Bayern target end to silverware wait in 2013
With a commanding lead at the top of the Bundesliga and a place in the UEFA Champions League knock-out phase secured, German giants Bayern Munich aim to end their three-year wait for silverware in 2013.
Having finished their Champions League group-stage campaign with a 4-1 win over BATE Borisov in Munich to leave them top of their group, Bayern aim to be at the front of the queue when titles are decided next May.
The Bundesliga's top clubs end 2012 in rude European health with Bayern joining Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 in winning their respective Champions League groups.
"I am 100 per cent sure that we will be German champions (in May)," France star Franck Ribery has said.
Under current Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal, Bayern won the German Cup in 2010 as part of the domestic double before losing to Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan in that season's Champions League final.
Since then it has been two miserable seasons for Bayern, reaching its nadir last May when Borussia Dortmund lifted their second consecutive Bundesliga title as Munich tasted disappointment three times during a disastrous fortnight.
Aiming for redemption
Firstly, Dortmund were confirmed league champions on 5 May, winning the title by eight points with Bayern second.
Then Borussia hammered Munich 5-2 in the German Cup final on 12 May with Poland striker Robert Lewandowski scoring a hat-trick and Japan's Shinji Kagawa running Bayern's midfield ragged in a confidence-draining defeat.
The Bavarians went on to lose the Champions League final in their own Allianz Arena stadium on 19 May when Chelsea won the penalty shoot-out.
This season, Bayern are showing a steely determination and are bidding to reach their third Champions League final in four years.
"The fact is Bayern are showing a different nature compared to last season, they are greedy and bitter," admitted Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp.
Financially, the Bundesliga is booming with record attendances and both title rivals Bayern (€11 million) and Dortmund (€34.3 million) returning record profits for the 2011/12 season.
Deloitte figures for 2011 showed the Bundesliga is Europe's second highest earner in revenue bringing in €1,746 million, second only to England's Premier League (€2,515 million).
Spain's Javi Martinez became the Bundesliga's record signing when he joined Bayern Munich for €40 million in August from Athletic Bilbao.
Dortmund sold Kagawa to Manchester United for €14 million in July having bought him from Cerezo Osaka for €350,000 in 2010.
Borussia replaced Kagawa with Germany's rising star Marco Reus, a name to watch out for in the build-up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ in 2014, for €17 million from Borussia Monchengladbach.
Reus scored their goal in the 1-1 draw in the Champions League group game at Manchester City, then at Real Madrid in the key 2-2 draw and also found the net in the 4-1 win at Ajax which Dortmund produced despite just 33 per cent possession.