Football: Historic league title can't heal Bayern's European hurt

Munich's Philipp Lahm and Thomas Mueller celebrate winning the German Championships.
Munich's Philipp Lahm and Thomas Mueller celebrate winning the German Championships.PHOTO: EPA

BERLIN (AFP) - Thomas Mueller admitted even winning a fourth straight German league title on Saturday could not compensate Bayern Munich for their third consecutive Champions League semi-final exit in mid-week.

Robert Lewandowski netted twice as Bayern were confirmed as the first club to win four German league titles in a row after their 2-1 victory at Ingolstadt.

Second-placed Borussia Dortmund's 1-0 defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt left Bayern an insurmountable eight points clear at the top of the table with one game left.

The result at Ingolstadt means Bayern have now won the Bundesliga title in each of Pep Guardiola's three years in charge in Munich before he leaves to coach Manchester City next season.

But Bayern's title triumph came just four days after the heartbreak of their European exit at the hands of Atletico, who reached the final on away goals after winning the first-leg 1-0 in Madrid and losing 2-1 to the Bavarians in Munich.

 

"This isn't a consolation for being knocked out of the Champions League," said Mueller.

"We can be sad about, but now is not the right time to talk about a Champions League semi-final."

But Mueller admitted there was relief at finally having their historic fourth straight league title confirmed.

"We've played brilliantly together," said the Germany forward.

"It's a great achievement to have won this title, particularly as Dortmund were the best runners up in Bundesliga history.

"We saw again today that every opponent gives everything when they play against us.

"People think it's easy to win the title, but it always seems hard in August.

"Of course we have a lot of quality, but without the right attitude, that doesn't count for much."

Bayern took the lead at Ingolstadt's Audi-Sport Park when Franck Ribery was fouled by home captain Marvin Matip in the area and Lewandowski drilled home the resulting spot-kick on 15 minutes.

The Poland hot-shot, the Bundesliga's leading scorer, then added his second when he drilled home Xabi Alonso's superb pass from a tight angle for his 29th league goal of the season.

Ingolstadt's Australia striker Mathew Leckie was denied by Manuel Neuer but the hosts pulled a goal back on 42 minutes when Moritz Hartmann converted a penalty after a push from behind from Alonso.

Bayern will chase another German league record in their final home game against Hanover next Saturday as, having conceded only 16 goals so far in this Bundesliga season, they can break their own best mark of 18 from the 2012/13 season.

Ingolstadt coach Ralph Hasenhuettl, who is leaving to coach second-division promotion hopefuls RB Leipzig next season, poured praise on Guardiola.

"First of all, Pep, you aren't just a great coach, you are also unbelievably humble, if anyone deserves to win the title, it's you," said Hasenhuettl.

"You have taken this team up to a new level, which is unbelievable.

"You have also shown what an incredible person you are."

Guardiola was similarly full of compliments after making Bundesliga history.

"I want to pay a big compliment to my colleague (Hasenhuettl)," said the Spaniard.

"Secondly, I want to pay a huge compliment to the whole club.

"Thirdly, a compliment to these unbelievable players, for all those who have helped us, whether they have played a lot, or hardly any, minutes.

"Of course, I want to play a big compliment to Borussia Dortmund who have played a crazy, crazy, crazy season."

Guardiola also praised his predecessor, Jupp Heynckes, who steered Bayern to the 2013 treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup titles, which started the German league run of four straight wins.

"I want to share this with Jupp, we have managed something special," added Guardiola.

"I learnt a lot from him.

"There have been many legends at Bayern Munich, but he for me is the real legend.

"Thank you, Jupp - thanks for everything."