The lack of fans in Lisbon gave an unusual air to Bayern Munich’s Champions League celebrations on Sunday, but there is every chance they will be back lifting that famous trophy again next year. Though it is easy to forget how little time Hansi Flick has spent in charge of Bayern Munich – he replaced Niko Kovac less than a year ago – his side have the feel of perennial champions.
Bayern went into the World Cup-style Champions League tournament as the favourites and proved that status was deserved by edging to victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the final.
Completing the treble having already secured the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal titles means Flick’s name immediately goes down in the history books alongside greats of the game such as Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho, who collected clean sweep at Manchester United and Inter.
So what’s next for Bayern Munich?
Transition time with key faces potentially moving on
Bayern’s team looks settled, but there could be some upheaval in the short period before the Bundesliga returns for the 2020-21 season next month.
Thiago Alcantara was near-faultless at the Estadio da Luz but it was widely assumed to be his final appearance for the German side. The Spanish midfielder is said to want a new challenge for the last phase of his career and he has been strongly linked with a switch to Liverpool.
Another player who could be on the move is David Alaba. The Austrian, who has thrived after a shift to central defence from left-back this season, has a year left on his Bayern Munich contract.
Manchester City are among the teams said to be interested in the versatile defender, who has won nine Bundesliga titles since joining Bayern as a youngster. Reports in recent days have also suggested ex-Bayern boss Pep Guardiola wants to take Thiago to Manchester as well.
Replacing both Thiago and Alaba would be tricky for the Bundesliga giants and Bayern also have to consider what they are going to do with loan stars Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Perisic, who both contributed to European glory in Lisbon.
Thiago’s compatriot Javi Martinez is also leaving, but he has only played a bit-part role of late.
Sane’s arrival boosts Bayern Munich attack
Perisic will presumably not be at the Allianz Arena next term with Bayern Munich having finally wrapped up the signing of Leroy Sane from Manchester City. Sane almost joined Bayern last year only to suffer a serious injury in the Community Shield, which delayed his switch to Munich.
A fit and on-form Sane would be one of the best wingers in Europe so his signing makes Bayern even more threatening, even if he first has to usurp Kingsley Coman to get into the team after the 24-year-old scored the only goal in the Champions League final.
Sane, Coman and Serge Gnabry providing support to Robert Lewandowski – the best number nine in world football right now – is an ominous sign that Bayern could get even better yet.
Many of their key players are either in their peak years – or approaching them – too. Take Joshua Kimmich as an example. He started the Champions League final at right-back but, like Philipp Lahm before him, is expected to move from that role and develop into one of the world’s top midfielders. Having provided the assist for Coman in Lisbon, Kimmich is already a star
A year ago, Thomas Muller’s future at Bayern appeared in doubt while his Germany career seemed to be over after he was unceremoniously dropped by national coach Joachim Low.
But Flick’s arrival into the Bayern hotseat coincided with Muller entering the most effective period of his career to date, the attacker breaking the Bundesliga assist record after forming an incredibly intuitive partnership with Lewandowski.
Muller feels like he has been around forever, but is only 30 and has many years left at the top. And if Muller is far from finished, it is frightening to think how good Bayern’s teenage prodigy Alphonso Davies could become in the future.
Retaining European crown not beyond Bayern Munich
Bayern won Europe’s top prize three years in a row during the 1970s and it is not out of the question that they could embark on a similar dynasty under the steady leadership of Flick.
Real Madrid’s three successive Champions League crowns under Zinedine Zidane showed dominating the competition can be done now. It had been 25 years since the last team to retain the trophy, AC Milan, but Bayern appear well placed to do so next year.
A short break before the new season means consistency will be crucial for the top teams and Bayern have been virtually unstoppable since Flick took charge.
Thiago out and Sane in means it will be a case of evolution, not revolution, at the Allianz Arena next term. Don’t bet against Bayern celebrating again at the end of next season, hopefully this time in front of fans.