Well, if there was any debate to be had over who was the best club side in the world, then Bayern Munich have just categorically ended it.
Their defeat against Liverpool in the quarter-finals of last season’s Champions League was supposed to be the end of an era. As recently as December, they were written out of the Bundesliga title race, and Hansi Flick – interim manager – was a joke.
Yet here they stand, yet to lose in 2020, having capped off a treble by being crowned champions of Europe.
They put 15 goals past Chelsea, Barcelona and Lyon on their way to the showpiece with Paris Saint-Germain, and the expectation was that Bayern would show up and blow the French champions aside. That assumption did the Parisians a disservice; they’re a formidable team in their own right and were never going to roll over.
But from the minute Kingsley Coman rose to convert Joshua Kimmich’s cross, the trophy was only going to one team.
Bayern showed a will to win on the big stage that dismisses any remaining doubts over their status as Europe’s best. The relatively short period in which they’ve gone from Bundesliga also-rans to the best around led to the odd suggestion that their form could be a flash in the pan that would eventually run out of steam.
Yet against PSG, they showed that they don’t have to be at their electric best to get the big one over the line.
They showed the sort of invincibility that separates the great teams from the awesome ones; whether it was Manuel Neuer throwing himself at the mercy of Kylian Mbappe or Serge Gnabry doubling back to remind Neymar who he was playing against, they found a way to outwit and outlast Thomas Tuchel’s side when it mattered most.
Flick doesn’t get enough credit for his ruthless tactical decisions but here his value was laid bare. Coman was by no means an automatic starter and questions were raised when he started ahead of Ivan Perisic, but his decisive header and bright, terrorising performance showed why he was there.
To say Robert Lewandowski has been integral to their success this season would be the understatement of the century, but even an understated performance from their 55-goal striker failed to derail their effectiveness. They had a game plan; get tight, cut off the supply to Neymar, nullify the pace of Mbappé.
And despite superstars like Lewandowski, Gnabry and Alphonso Davies having off-nights, the whole was far greater than the sum of its parts.
In eight short months, Bayern have transformed themselves from a disjointed band of misfitting miscreants into one of the most well-drilled, cohesive teams European football has seen. Having found the balance between individual brilliance and selfless endeavour, they look a frightening prospect, and are going to take some beating if Liverpool, Real or anyone else want to knock them off their perch.
For now, however, they will be basking in the glory of a first treble since 2013. Flick’s Bayern are history-makers; let’s let them enjoy that fact before we worry about them laying waste to the rest of Europe in the years ahead.