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Time Zone: Europe/Brussels 
Champions League 2018/19: Can Bayern Munich Genuinely Challenge?

Bayern Munich are a side steeped in history when it comes to the European Cup, with the German giants winning the competition on five occasions. However, in recent years, Bayern have struggled to make a major impact at the latter stage of the competition, with their last victory back in 2013. 

Only Real Madrid (13) and AC Milan (7) have bettered Bayern’s European Cup record, whilst Liverpool and Barcelona have both matched their feat of picking up five trophies.

The club’s most successful spell came in the mid-seventies, when Franz Beckenbauer led Bayern to a hat-trick of trophies in 1974, 1975 and 1976. Since the competition's switch to the Champions League, Bayern have been successful on just two occasions, winning the trophy in 2001 and then their last success in 2013.

For a club of Bayern’s stature, their recent performance in the competition is a disappointment, particularly since their 2013 triumph.

Bayern dominate the Bundesliga, with the 2017/18 campaign bringing a sixth consecutive title, with many of those titles often won before the latter stage of the Champions League. Again, next season, they are heavy favourites to pick up a seventh consecutive Bundesliga title, priced at 1/7 in bet365’s Bundesliga betting market, despite not yet kicking a ball.

  However, their recent domestic success hasn’t helped them in the Champions League. Since 2013, Spain have dominated Europe’s elite competition, with Real Madrid winning four titles and Barcelona also adding their fifth. Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Liverpool have all reached the final in that time, with Bayern unable to compete in the final.

The 2017/18 competition saw Bayern reach the semi-finals, not for the first time in the last five years, but they came up against Real Madrid, who were 4-3 aggregate winners, before going on to beat Liverpool 3-1 in the final.

Bayern will obviously want to defend their Bundesliga trophy next season, but a big ambition from them will be mounting a challenge in the Champions League again. The big question is whether Niko Kovac’s side have enough about them to mount that challenge.

"Champions League Final Wembley 2013." (CC BY-ND 2.0) by (Mick Baker) rooster

A core of Bayern’s player, including the experienced Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Muller, have just crashed out of the World Cup 2018 in Russia, with an embarrassing exit at the Group Stage. How that affects their ageing squad remains to be seen, as whilst they will have a point to prove, the quality they once possessed is clearly no longer there.

Others, including Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery, are certainly at the twilight of their career, whilst strong rumours suggest that Robert Lewandowski could well be on his way out of the club ahead of the 2018/19 campaign.

It’s certainly going to be interesting to see the direction Bayern go in next season. Of course, they are expected to challenge for the Bundesliga, with it still highly unlikely that the chasing pack will overhaul them domestically. However, the big question lays with their chance of European success. Does this squad have enough about them to challenge for club football’s major honour?