The five best Bayern sides ever:
In 1974, Bayern Munich would win its first of three consecutive European Cups and the nucleus of the team -- Sepp Maier, Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck, Franz Beckenbauer, Paul Breitner, Uli Hoeness and Gerd Müller - would go on to defeat the mythical Dutch side of Johan Cruyff in the 1974 World Cup final for West Germany. But the real peak of the team had arguably come a year before. After their European Championship triumph with the national team (the class of 1972 is generally accepted as the best ever German team), Beckenbauer and Co. dominated the Bundesliga in devastating fashion. They were top of the table from the first to the last match day and finished 11 points ahead of 1.FC Köln -- 16 points if the three-point-rule had been in force. Udo Lattek's team had everything: balance, fantastic individuals and great attitude. At the back, Maier, "the cat from Ainzing" saved the few shots that got past the gracious sweeper Beckenbauer and the man who did the dirty work, "Katsche" Schwarzenbeck. In midfield, the tireless running of Franz "Bulle" Roth and frequent forays from Breitner, the self-styled Maoist, supplied Müller and Hoeness, a sensational striking partnership between a "fox in the box" (Müller) and a pacey winger (Hoeness). Müller scored 36 goals in 34 Bundesliga games that season. The only blip of Bayern's imperious campaign came in the European Cup when it was knocked out by eventual winners Ajax Amsterdam in the quarterfinal. Maier took the 4-0 defeat in the Dutch capital so badly that he threw his kit into the canal underneath his hotel room.
Sepp Maier - Franz Beckenbauer - Johnny Hansen, Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck - Franz Roth, Rainer Zobel, Paul Breitner - Franz Krauthausen, Uli Hoeness - Wilhelm Hoffmann, Gerd Müller. (1-2-3-2-2)
With larger-than-life characters Stefan Effenberg, Oliver Kahn, Mario Basler and Matthäus in the squad, Bayern was fully lived up to its "FC Hollywood" tag. But they could play a bit, too. Effenberg, in particular, never looked better in central midfield. The gifted but volatile Basler had his best ever season in Munich and a fine supporting cast (French left-back Bixente Lizarazu, Brazilian striker Giovane Elber and mercurial trickster Mehmet Scholl) ensured that the Ottmar Hitzfeld-trained team ran away with the Bundesliga title. In Europe, they topped a Champions League group that included Manchester United and Barcelona, and had little problem dispatching Kaiserslautern and Dinamo Kiev on the way to the fateful final (a 2-1 defeat to Manchester United), where they coped well without the injured Lizarazu and Elber. The defeat in Barcelona was followed by another loss in the German Cup final, as Bayern's treble aspirations were thwarted. Two years later, Effenberg and Kahn would lift the Champions League trophy in Milan but by then the thrilling 4-3-3 system had given way to a much more conservative 5-3-2. In pure footballing terms, the class of 99 would have been more deserving champions of Europe.
Oliver Kahn - Markus Babbel, Thomas Linke, Samuel Kuffour, Bixente Lizarazu - Stefan Effenberg, Lothar Matthäus, Jens Jeremies - Giovane Elber, Carsten Jancker, Mario Basler. (4-3-3)
In 1983, Udo Lattek returned for a second spell in charge and immediately won silverware again. A German Cup in 1984 was followed by a hat trick of championships and one more cup win (in 1986). The squad reeked of class throughout this period but was probably best in 1986, when Danish tyro Sören Lerby and Lothar Matthäus ran the show in midfield. In goal, the Belgian international Jean-Marie Pfaff was at the height of his powers. Sweeper Klaus Augenthaler commandeered an impressive defensive line that included two more eventual 1990 World Cup winners in Norbert Eder and Hansi Pflügler while the perennially underrated Roland Wohlfahrt and Michael Rummenigge, Karl-Heinz's younger brother, were the leading scorers at the other end. Like their 1982 predecessors and the 1999 side that lost in dramatic fashion against Manchester United in Barcelona, this team were denied their biggest triumph in cruel fashion: a 1-0 lead in the European Cup final against FC Porto in 1987 was overturned in the space of two minutes. First Algerian striker Rabah Madjer scored with an outrageous back-heel, then Juary finished off a remarkable comeback (80') Lattek and his men would not recover from the defeat in Vienna. The manager left at the end of the season and team effectively fell apart.
Jean-Marie Pfaff - Augenthaler - Norbert Eder, Helmut Winklhofer - Hansi Pflügler, Lothar Matthäus, Sören Lerby, Norbert Nachtweih - Michael Rummenigge, Dieter Hoeness, Roland Wohlfahrt. (1-2-4-3)
It took Bayern half a decade to build another successful team after the defection of Breitner (Real Madrid), Beckenbauer (New York Cosmos) and Gerd Müller (Fort Lauderdale) in the mid Seventies. By 1982 though, the Bavarians were (nearly) top of Europe again. Coached by the Hungarian Pal Csernai, they didn't quite have an array of superstars at their disposal but compensated tactically. Csernai adopted a more cautious and measured approach that relied on disciplined positional play and the fantastic understanding between Breitner, now back as central midfielder-cum-playmaker, and forward Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (European Player of the Year 1980 and 81), who had developed into one of the world's best players. The team's nickname at the time,"FC Breitnigge," reflected the duo's importance. After two domestic titles, it stormed to the European Cup final against Aston Villa in Rotterdam where it missed a plethora of chances and were desperately unlucky to lose 1-0. In retrospective, the team's crowning moment had come three weeks earlier, in one of the most memorable German cup finals in history. Bayern was trailing 1. FC Nürnberg 2-0 at halftime but came back to win 4-2, with Dieter Hoeness (brother of Uli) heading in the final goal despite heavily bleeding through his head bandage.
Manfred Müller - Wolfgang Dremmler, Klaus Augenthaler, Hans Weiner, Udo Horsmann - Bernd Dürnberger, Kurt Niedermaier, Paul Breitner, Wolfgang Kraus - Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Dieter Hoeness. (4-4-2)
Bayern needed a win in its last Champions League group stage game away to Juventus to stay in the competition. It won 4-1 in Italy to progress to the next round and effectively save the job of Dutchman Louis van Gaal, who was struggling to implement his tactical concept and a change toward a possession-based football in his first year at the Allianz Arena.
In the second half of the season, however, the team truly came into its own. New recruit Arjen Robben scored a number of highly important miracle goals, young forward Thomas Müller was making waves with his intelligent runs and Bastian Schweinsteiger, at last in his coveted central midfield role, evolved into a world-class player. Van Gaal's attacking style achieved a feat that was beyond the previous great Bayern sides: the whole of Germany took a liking to them. Bayern ran away with the league, destroyed Werder Bremen 4-0 in the German Cup final but once again stumbled at the final hurdle, when two sweet counterattacking moves by Inter Milan undid them in Madrid. If only some of the great defenders from an earlier vintage had been available instead of Daniel van Buyten and Martin Demichelis, things might well have turned out differently against Jose Mourinho's men.
Hans-Jörg Butt - Philipp Lahm, Martin Demichelis, Daniel van Buyten, Holger Badstuber - Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mark van Bommel - Franck Ribery, Thomas Müller, Arjen Robben - Ivica Olic (4-2-3-1)