Bayern wrap up Bundesliga in record time
By Ciaran Fahey ,AP Thursday, March 27, 2014, 12:01 am TWN
BERLIN -- Bayern Munich set a new milestone in its dominance of German soccer on Tuesday, beating Hertha Berlin 3-1 to wrap up the quickest Bundesliga title in 51 years of the league.
Goals from Toni Kroos, Mario Goetze and Franck Ribery sealed the unbeaten defending champions' 24th German title with seven games to spare, bettering the mark set in last year's record-breaking campaign by one game.
Adrian Ramos pulled one back from the penalty spot for Hertha, but there was to be no denying Pep Guardiola his first Bundesliga title in his first season as coach.
"We worked very hard for this title. When you win by 25 points people can think it's easy. But it's not easy, especially after the last season with three titles," the Spaniard said. "When you win 19 games one after the other, it speaks for the mentality of the team."
Bayern's 19th consecutive win, its 10th consecutive victory away from home, and its unbeaten run of 52 games are all Bundesliga records.
Bayern finished 25 points ahead of Borussia Dortmund last season and is even more dominant this campaign.
"We can see you, but we still need a telescope," Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp said.
Of 27 games so far this season, Bayern has won 25 and drawn the other two. It has also scored more goals (79) and conceded fewer (13) than any other side by a large margin.
"It's impressive," Klopp said. "You have to take your hat off to the consistent performances they deliver on the pitch and the drive they have."
Klopp's side had to settle for a 0-0 draw in the Ruhr derby with Schalke despite dominating. Dortmund remained one point ahead of Schalke but slipped 25 behind Bayern, the first side to win the Bundesliga as early as March.
"We're all very surprised as we expected it in February," Schalke general manager Horst Heldt joked. "But seriously, it was a magnificent season from Bayern."
Bayern's celebrations were reserved by usual standards, perhaps an indicator of how predictable the title race had become.
Players donned T-shirts with the number 24 referring to Bayern's championships on their backs, while Guardiola remained on the bench speaking with his wife on the mobile phone. There were none of the traditional "beer showers" and no trophy was presented.
"Congratulations to Bayern, especially to coach Pep Guardiola," Germany coach Joachim Loew said. "He developed the team even further and clearly left his mark in terms of dominance and possession."
Many wondered how Guardiola could match the success enjoyed under predecessor Jupp Heynckes, who led Bayern to its first treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup victories last year.
Guardiola led Barcelona to 14 titles in four seasons in charge of the club where he played most of his career as a stylish defensive midfielder. But there was no guarantee he could replicate that success in Germany, a country he had only experienced as a visitor before.
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