Five key players in Bayern Munich’s title win

Robert Lewandowski's 35 goals in 39 games helped Bayern Munich land a sixth successive Bundesliga title and attracted envious glances from Real Madrid
AFP

Berlin (AFP) – Here are five key players who helped Bayern Munich win the Bundesliga title for the sixth season in a row on Saturday:

ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI

The Poland striker has again been Bayern’s top scorer and equalled the Bundesliga record of scoring in 11 consecutive home league game this season.

He has netted 35 goals in 39 games for Bayern so far this season, showing the kind of threat that has sparked rumours from Spain linking him with a move to Real Madrid.

Indeed, Bayern have grown so reliant on Lewandowski’s goals this season that he asked for a back-up striker to be bought so he could play “15 or 20 minutes less in a game”.

Sure enough, Bayern responded by paying 13 million euros ($16 million) for Germany striker Sandro Wagner in January, who has hit six goals in ten games including one in the title-clinching win over Augsburg.

THOMAS MUELLER 

Carlo Ancelotti never figured out where best to play Mueller, who he saw as a winger.

However, when the veteran Jupp Heynckes replaced the Italian in October, Mueller was given licence to roam the space behind Lewandowski.

The Germany midfielder has not looked back, revelling in his role and taking over Bayern’s captaincy with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer sidelined by injury.

Mueller’s return to form has been good for club and country as demonstrated when he equalised for Germany against Spain with a superb strike from 25 metres out.

SVEN ULREICH

Had Neuer not fractured his foot for the second time in 2017 last September, Ulreich would have probably endured a frustrating season on Bayern’s bench as reserve goalkeeper.

He had went public on his wish to leave before the season started, but when injury struck Germany goalkeeper Neuer, Ulreich took over between the sticks at Bayern.

He has impressed with a string of key performances and kept 11 clean sheets in his 23 Bundesliga appearances before Saturday — the best quota in the league.

JAVI MARTINEZ

After four seasons mostly spent as a centre-back, Martinez has been a revelation since being returned to the defensive midfield role while helped Bayern win the 2013 treble.

Both Pep Guardiola and Ancelotti used Martinez as a defender, but that all changed when Heynckes returned.

Martinez has been the key to Bayern’s game linking the defence and attack, backing up the centre-backs and using his height and strength in the box when going forward.

“I’m playing further forward in a position I’ve always played in. It coincides with a good dynamic in the team, which is why I’m really happy,” said the Spaniard.

JOSHUA KIMMICH

Since World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm finally retired at the end of last season, Kimmich has made the right-back berth his own for club and country.

His most impressive display was in the 4-0 rout of Mainz at home last September when he laid on goals for Mueller, Lewandowski and Robben.

Solid in the tackle, blessed with good pace and the supplier of pinpoint crosses, Kimmich, like Lahm before him, is dangerous going forward and reliable in defence.

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