By Enis Koylu
As the final whistle blew on Wednesday evening, the only great obstacle stopping Bayern Munich from winning a domestic double had been successfully negotiated. Not only was the 1-0 DFB-Pokal win over Borussia Dortmund a cathartic moment of vindication for Arjen Robben, but it gives them a fantastic chance of handing Jupp Heynckes the perfect leaving present.
After last season's disappointment, the time had come for Bayern to prove that they were still the kings of Germany and silence the young upstarts from the Westfalenstadion, who had stolen that crown.
And that is just what they have done. Dortmund's season has been far from disappointing, but Bayern have simply been too good for Jurgen Klopp's charges, and everyone else, as shown by their 17-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga.
|MATCH FACTS | Bayern 1-0 BVB
At the back, meanwhile, they were no less impressive. Dortmund surged forward with Ilkay Gundogan, Marco Reus and Mario Gotze, but could not find a way past Dante and Daniel Van Buyten, while Robert Lewandowski, the subject of supposed interest from Bayern, was completely nullified.
On this evidence, they have no need for the Poland international whatsoever.
Their feats are all the more impressive when you consider the season BVB have had thus far. They have been prone to leaking goals, particularly without influential centre-back Mats Hummels, but their attack has been fearsome, carving team after team apart.
This is the same side that showed up Manchester City and outclassed Real Madrid in the Champions League, and yet they could not find a way past Bayern.
With all due respect to the likes of Stuttgart and Freiburg, there is nothing stopping the Roten from claiming a domestic double.
Of course, the Bundesliga and the Pokal are just two-thirds of the story. Bayern's pursuit of a fifth Champions League title has been a long and heartbreaking one, but they look to be among the favourites for the competition this season.
Short of a miracle that Arsenal, vanquished 3-1 by the Bavarians at home in the last 16, do not look capable of providing, their place in the quarter-finals is assured, and they will be confident of righting old wrongs this year.
Dortmund have arguably been the most impressive side in this season's Champions League, emerging unbeaten from a group that featured the champions of England, Spain and Netherlands. And yet Bayern completely outplayed them.
The quality at Heynckes' disposal is obvious, and perhaps unmatched elsewhere on the continent. Their first XI is as good as anything in Europe, and they possess an unrivalled strength in depth. That the likes of Robben and Mario Gomez, established names in European football, hardly ever start, is truly astonishing.
Barcelona are starting to stumble, Real Madrid leak goals (and have a deplorable record against German teams) and Manchester United's shaky defence would certainly be threatened by the likes of Franck Ribery, Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos and Mario Mandzukic.
AC Milan and Juventus, while in good form, are no match for the Bavarians. This is their chance to put the final defeats of 2010 and 2012 behind them and finally claim their place at the top of the continental tree, just as they have within Germany.
Heynckes is a legendary figure within German football, and with his third spell in charge at Sabener Strasse set to come to an end in the summer, the crowning achievement of his career may come in his final season.
And, with Pep Guardiola set to arrive in the summer, the good times will continue in Munich.
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