Bayern Munich enjoy a special place in German football. They are both the most popular club, while at the same time the most hated. The antipathy towards FC Hollywood stems mainly from their almost continual success and the financial might which sees them plunder all the best talents from the Bundesliga.
The past decade has seen the Bavarians win the German league crown on six occasions, but they have had to face challenges for top spot from the likes of Werder Bremen, Borussia Dortmund, VfB Stuttgart and more recently Wolfsburg.
They have been guided (with varying levels of success) by Ottmar Hitzfeld (twice), Felix Magath, Juergen Klinsmann and, temporarily, Jupp Heynckes, with a whole host of fantastic players on display at the Allianz Arena.
The decade began with the club’s long-awaited fourth European Cup following a penalty shoot-out victory over Valencia. That went a long way to make up for the pain of their dramatic loss to Manchester United in 1999. Bundesliga titles followed in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2008.
Oliver Kahn (1994-2008)
The moniker of ‘legend’ shouldn’t be used too lightly, but in the case of Oliver Kahn, that is just what he is to Bayern Munich. Alongside Sepp Maier, Kahn will go down in the annals of Bayern history as the finest goalkeeper ever to play for the club. He joined from Karlsruhe in 1994 and enjoyed 14 years of uninterrupted dominance between the sticks for the Bavarians. He won eight Bundesliga titles (six of which came in the decade in question here) as well as six DFB Pokals and the Champions League in 2001.
Willy Sagnol (2000-09)
Sadly, Frenchman Sagnol was forced to retire last season, but Bayern fans will retain extremely fond memories of the right-back for his nine years at the club. He joined from Monaco in 2000 and amassed 184 league appearances for the German giants. The Allianz Arena loved screaming “Willliyyyy” as the Frenchman bombed forward from his full-back berth on one of his trademark forays into the opponent’s half. He was forced to retire prematurely at the age of 32 due to a serious Achilles injury.
Sammy Kuffour (1993-2005)
The Ghanaian was a rock at the back for Bayern for more than ten years. He won the Champions League in 2001 which made up in some way for the heartbreak of losing the 1999 final in Barcelona to Manchester United. The lasting image of the African was him prone on the floor following the last-gasp defeat to United pounding his fists on the grass. His wholehearted approach endeared him to Bayern fans and he played 175 Bundesliga games winning the title four times in the ‘noughties’.
Lucio (2004-present )
The current Brazilian international team captain has been marshaling the Bayern back four since 2004 when he joined from Bayer Leverkusen. He has won the ‘double’ on three occasions and is seen as a key element of the current side. He can be rather unorthodox at times and various Bayern trainers have tried to control the wild runs forward. His attacking appetite comes from being a Brazilian, but he remains one of the toughest defenders in world football.
Philipp Lahm (2005 - present)
Local boy Philipp Lahm is an elite full-back and Bayern through and through. He joined the junior team as an eleven year old and rose speedily through the ranks. Two years on loan at Stuttgart honed his skills and confirmed to Bayern that his future lay with them. He prefers to play at right-back, but has played most of his career on the opposite flank to superb effect. He was wooed by Barcelona last summer, but stayed true to his home-town club and signed an extended deal until 2012. Despite being just 25, he has won the league and Cup double on no fewer than three occasions.
Michael Ballack (2002- 2006)
Ballack my not be the most popular figure at the Allianz Arena now since his defection to Chelsea, but that comes down to the fact that Bayern fans resent losing a talent such as his. Such is the financial clout of the Bavarians that they can plunder the best talents in the Bundesliga and Ballack was certainly that while at Bayer Leverkusen. An impressive World Cup tournament in 2002 saw Bayern shell out €12.9 million for him. In four seasons at Bayern, Ballack won three Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal doubles and scored 47 goals in 135 matches. He was reportedly the only “guaranteed” starter in the Bayern midfield while Felix Magath was at the helm.
Ze Roberto (2002-2006 & 2007-2009)
Such is the high esteem with which Brazilian legend Ze Roberto is held at the club, that former trainer Ottmar Hitzfeld wasted no time at all in bringing him back from Santos after his predecessor Felix Magath had deemed him surplus to requirements. The double Copa America winner has four league and Cup doubles to his name as well as 169 appearances for the Bavarians. His second spell proved his quality and he added more of a goalscoring threat to his game. He has since left the club, but there were no shortage of takers for his signature with Hamburg eventually winning out.
Bastian Schweinsteiger (2002 - present)
Despite being just 24, Schweinsteiger is one of the longest serving players in the current Bayern squad. He graduated via the youth ranks and was handed a surprise debut as a substitute in a Champions League fixture with Lens by Ottmar Hitzfeld. His Bundesliga debut followed soon after and in his first season he helped Bayern to the double.
‘Schweini’ was surprisingly sent back to the Bayern Amatuer side by Felix Magath, but since then he has been a permanent fixture in the Bayern midfield. He has won the Bundesliga four times and the DFB Pokal four times. He has been linked with a move away from the club on various occasions, but is difficult to imagine him wearing anything other than the Bayern Munich shirt.
Franck Ribery (2007 - present)
Frenchman Ribery has only been at Bayern for two seasons, but such is the impact he has made on the club and the Bundesliga as a whole that it is difficult to omit him from the ‘Team of the Decade’. Until the signing of Mario Gomez, he was the Bavarians’ record signing at €25 million and his time at the Allianz Arena has seen reporters running out of superlatives to describe his performances. Bundesliga defenses have been terrorized and Ribery’s reputation as a world star has been enhanced to such an extent that all the top clubs now seem to want to sign him.
Roy Makaay (2003-2007)
Rudolphus Anton Makaay, better known as Roy, was the undisputed top striker at Bayern before the arrival of Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose. The Dutchman joined the club in 2003 from Deportivo La Coruna and scored goals for fun. In four seasons with Bayern he scored 78 goals in just 129 matches giving him an average of better than a goal every two games.
Claudio Pizarro (2001-2007)
The Peruvian striker is still bagging goals in the Bundesliga with Werder Bremen, but his six seasons at the Allianz Arena were where he developed his reputation as a top goal-getter. Three Bundesliga titles were gained during his time in Bavaria, while he hit the back of the net 71 times in 144 league appearances. Chelsea wasted no time at all snapping him up on a Bosman free transfer, but he failed to reproduce his Bayern form at Stamford Bridge.
Sagnol - Kuffour – Lucio - Lahm
Schweinsteiger - Ballack – Ze Roberto - Ribery
Makaay – Pizarro
Mathew Burt, Goal.com
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