Is Bayern Munich's run the greatest in sports history?
To say Bayern Munich's current run in the Bundesliga is nothing short of historic would be an understatement. Twenty matches into the 2020-21 season - Bayern Munich holds a seven-point lead over RB Leipzig for the top spot on the table.
The best sports betting sites love Bayern Munich to repeat as champion - and if they do, they will have won nine consecutive Bundesliga titles. The run over the last decade is so impressive we can start to argue it is one of the greatest in the history of sports. But is it the greatest?
The Arguments for Bayern Munich
Winning, winning, and winning some more is pivotal if you want to be considered the great of all time.
Consecutive Bundesliga Champions
If you look at the most successful clubs and teams in their sports, Bayern Munich's current run is one of the best in any sport ever.
Bayern Munich is currently tied with the 1960s Boston Celtics - who won eight straight titles from 1959 to 1966 (and won 11 titles between 1957 and 1969). But the NBA was a young league back then, with only nine teams competing for the NBA Championship in 1966. As the league expanded since the 1960s and 1970s, no team has won more than three straight titles.
Munich's eight straight titles have thrust them past the New York Yankees (27 titles) and Montreal Canadiens (24 titles) for the most titles in a league's history. However, they are still behind Real Madrid (34) and Juventus (37) for the most titles in the five major football leagues in Europe.
Impressive Records at the Champions League
Bayern Munich's success in the last decade is not limited to the Bundesliga. They have captured two UEFA Champions League titles in the previous eight years - and more impressively - set the record for most consecutive wins with 15. They also set a few years before the record for consecutive home wins with 16.
The Arguments Against Bayern Munich
Who you play and who you beat matters when comparing the most incredible runs in history.
Quality of the Competition
Bayern Munich's run would be more impressive if the competition in the Bundesliga were better. The quick rise of RB Leipzig adds some more validity to Bayern Munich's claim of best ever - but it is hard to make the argument beating two clubs (RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund) consistently for the title is more impressive than some other runs.
For example - if you compare Bayern Munich to the two great dynasties in NFL history - the 49ers of the 1980s and 1990s and the New England Patriots of the 2000s and 2010s - you may lean towards the NFL teams even if they won less than Bayern. Why? Because the competition was better. Those teams beat Hall of Fame players and coaches, stopped other teams from becoming dynasties, and did it against more competition (32 teams in the NFL since 2002).
The NFL also has a hard salary cap - which means each team has access to the same resources. Despite the competition and fairer playing field these teams faced, they won a combined 11 Super Bowls.
Not the Best Team in the Champions League
Although they have had success in the Champions League, they have won half as many titles as Real Madrid over the last eight years. If the Champions League is the highest level of competition, more weight should be put on a club's success in it over their respective league.
Bayern Munich repeating as winners in 2021 would help their case. Three in a row would cement them as the most incredible team - at least in European history.
Where We Land on Bayern Munich
We need to wait and see how they do in the Champions League before proclaiming them the greatest ever. They may need to do it for a tenth year for North American sports fans to give them full credit. However, they are certainly amongst the greatest success stories in sports - especially if you condense it down to this century.
Image by Kinfut, Creative Commons BY 3.0