Champions Again But Bayern Plan Makeover to Remain on Top | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 08.05.2006
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Champions Again But Bayern Plan Makeover to Remain on Top

With praise for another record-breaking season still ringing in their ears, Bayern Munich's hierarchy begin to plan for another season of dominance.


Bayern Munich's team celebrate their title win but who'll still be there to enjoy the next one?

Bayern's 1-1 draw with Kaiserslautern on Saturday coupled with SV Hamburg's 4-2 loss against Hertha Berlin helped the club to a 20th domestic title adding to their cup triumph over Eintracht Frankfurt.

The title win gave the Bavarian giants another record: the first team to win a league and cup double in successive seasons.

"It is great to wrap up the title with a week to go," said Bayern Munich coach Felix Magath. "To defend the double is unique and the team has been exceptional. We can all be very proud of our achievement and there will be some celebrations tonight for sure."

Magath arrived from VfB Stuttgart in July 2004 and has lifted back-to-back doubles in his first two seasons.

"Full credit to Felix (Magath). He has won two league and cup doubles in a row. That is mightily impressive," said general manager Uli Hoeness.

Bayern were far from convincing against lowly Kaiserslautern but captain Oliver Kahn saluted his team for winning a sixth title in eight seasons. "Kaiserslautern made it difficult but we have a lot of experience in title battles and used it," said the German international goalkeeper.

"We have dominated the league this season and deserve to win the title. You need to come up with the big points at the right time and we did that."

Closest rivals gracious in defeat

Bundesliga 33. Spieltag 1. FC Kaiserslautern gegen FC Bayern München

Andreas Ottl squeezes in the title-winning goal

SV Hamburg were Bayern's main challengers this season but their manager Thomas Doll admitted the best team had won. "Congratulations to Bayern on their title win," Doll said. "They were the best team and deserved to finish top."

Werder Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf, who led the club to the title in 2004, also saluted Bayern's achievements. "I offer my compliments to Bayern. They were incredibly consistent all season and that is the difference," said Schaaf.

Former Bayern star Mario Basler congratulated his ex-club -- where he won three Bundesliga titles -- but admitted he was hoping for some stronger competition in the future. "Well done to Bayern but to be honest it is getting a bit boring now," Basler said.

Bayern have won 20 domestic titles with FC Nuremberg the next best on nine although their last triumph came way back in 1968.

Bayern oils the revolving door for summer sales

For Bayern to win their 21st title next season, there will have to be a change of personnel as a number of senior players -- most notably the Chelsea-bound Michael Ballack -- are considering ending their association with the record-breaking Bundesliga champions.

Fußball-Bundesliga, 30. Spieltag, FC Schalke 04 - 1. FC Köln

Even physical restraint is unlikely to stop Podolski leaving

While speculation is rife about those who will be on their way out, one who seems destined to be on his way in is FC Cologne striker Lukas Podolski.

The 20-year-old international forward is regarded as one of Germany's best young players and since his current club are due to be relegated at the end of this season, it seems most likely that he will continue his career in the top flight by joining the powerful Bavarians for the next campaign.

"We'll carry out talks with a view to getting him by July 1," Bayern manager Uli Hoeness told reporters in Cologne. According to Hoeness, a deal with Podolski's agent for the player was "as good as agreed" although Bayern have yet to speak to Cologne.

Prince Poldi and Van Buyten targeted

UEFA Cup Hamburger SV - FC Thun

Van Buyten could be saying his farewells to Hamburg

Another addition could be rivals SV Hamburg's inspirational captain Daniel Van Buyten. "He has let it be known that he wants to come to us," Hoeness said of the 28-year-old Belgian centre-back. "Now he has to discuss it with Hamburg."

But whoever comes in at the Allianz Arena, it will be very hard to fill the void left by the expected departure of Ballack, Germany's one true world star. Ballack has scored 13 league goals this season from midfield and has been instrumental in helping Bayern to their third double in the four years since he joined them from Bayer Leverkusen.

Ballack represents more than goals and creativity to Bayern. His association with the club has helped the one outstanding German team command a higher profile on the global soccer stage.

Ballack defection a sign of Bayern waning power?

Fußball Bundesliga 2005/2006 Michael Ballack FC Bayern München

Ballack lured by Chelsea's money and future success?

However, his anticipated loss to the English champions will expose Bayern's shortcomings both on and off the pitch where richer and potentially more successful clubs can swoop for their players in the same way as Bayern feed of their rivals in the domestic transfer market.

Off the pitch, even if Podolski and Van Buyten come, the Bavarians will still need to find someone who can play such an effective all-round game in midfield and bring that star quality to the team.

Hoeness believes that man will be Julio dos Santos, the 22-year-old Paraguay midfielder who joined Bayern in January but who has yet to make his Bundesliga debut. "He's going to have a big impact," Hoeness said.

In the Bundesliga, that may be true. But the real question for a club which craves European success as much as Bayern is: can he be the new Michael Ballack? The most likely answer to that is that you cannot replace the irreplaceable.

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