Same coach. Similar players. Bayern Munich are on the path towards a treble five years after accomplishing the feat. How does this year's team stack up with the 2013 version? DW breaks it down.
April will be a very important month for Bayern Munich.
They have all but wrapped up the Bundesliga, but they face crucial tests in the Champions League and German Cup, the two competitions they will need to win to complete their first treble since 2013.
In Jupp Heynckes, they certainly have the coach to do it. The 72-year-old led the Bavarians to their first-ever treble five years ago — winning the Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League — and he has come out of retirement to try to repeat that feat.
Before the first leg of Bayern's Champions League quarterfinal tie against Sevilla, Heynckes talked about how similar his current team is to his treble-winning one five years ago.
But how does this year's Bayern stack up with their 2012-13 counterparts? Here's a position-by-position breakdown of the two sides.
Goalkeeper: Advantage treble Bayern
Bayern's treble year was the beginning of Manuel Neuer's rise to world-class status. He was not quite the "sweeper keeper" we know today, but he was still among the best in the world. He kept five clean sheets in the Champions League that season, four of which came in the quarterfinals and the semifinals.
Read more: Manuel Neuer: The people's champion
Though he has performed well above expectations while filling in for Neuer — who is still recovering from a broken foot — Sven Ulreich is not in the same goalkeeping class. However, Bayern could very well win a treble with Ulreich between the sticks, which makes him no slouch.
Defense: Advantage 2018 Bayern
Philipp Lahm was at the peak of his powers in 2013 and David Alaba came into his own that season as well. But Heynckes had his work cut out for him in the center of defense, masterfully rotating Dante, Jerome Boateng and an aging Daniel Van Buyten.
This season, the 72-year-old coach has worked with arguably the three best German central defenders — Boateng, Mats Hummels and Niklas Süle. Boateng and Alaba have significantly improved over the past five years, and Joshua Kimmich may be able to out-do Lahm's stellar treble season — Lahm had 19 assists in 47 appearances in all competitions in 2012-13, Kimmich has 16 in 36 this season.
Midfield: Advantage 2018 Bayern
This year's midfield for the Bavarians is very similar to that of 2013. Both sides had a quality playmaker (Toni Kroos in 2013, James Rodriguez in 2018), a destroyer (Luiz Gustavo in 2013, Arturo Vidal in 2018) and a box-to-box contributor (Bastian Schweinsteiger in 2013, Thiago in 2018) — not to mention that Javi Martinez played as a defensive-minded midfielder in both teams.
One could argue that the quality of Kroos and Schweinsteiger was greater than Rodriguez and Thiago. However, Bayern has more depth in midfield this year than they did in 2013. Corentin Tolisso and Sebastian Rudy are two bench players that could slide in seamlessly, whereas a post-peak Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and a very unproven Emre Can rarely made the bench in 2016.
Mario Mandzukic, Mario Gomez and Thomas Müller (from left to right) provided Bayern Munich with a menacing attack in 2013
Forward: Advantage treble Bayern
With 35 goals in 38 games for Bayern this season, Robert Lewandowski has proven he is unquestionable better than Mario Mandzukic was in 2013 — the Croat had 22 goals in 40 appearances for Bayern that season. One could also argue that Thomas Müller is twice the player he was five years ago.
That said, there is no comparison. In 2013, Franck Ribery had the best year of his career, for which he earned the UEFA Best Player award. Arjen Robben was also at his peak, evidenced by his crucial goal in the German Cup against Dortmund and the game-winner he scored in the Champions League final. Jupp Heynckes also had two world-class strikers in Mandzukic and Mario Gomez, who scored a combined 41 goals in Bayern's treble year.