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Bayern too good for the rest

Berlin: Bayern Munich ran away with yet another league crown at the end of a turbulent season marked by an historic failure for German clubs on the European stage and worrying news on the financial side.

Bayern wasted no time in sealing an 18th title, capturing the trophy with four games left to take some consolation after failing to survive the opening group stage of the Champions League.

“This is the start of a new era,” Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said after his players were presented with the coveted silver dish following their final home game of the season last weekend. The side has an away fixture at Schalke 04 to end the season on Saturday.

“Our goal now is the Champions League,” said Hitzfeld. “When we enter a competition, we always want to win it.”

Germany’s biggest draw were not the only ones to fare poorly in Europe. For the first time since the 1956-57 season, there was no German representative in the last eight of any European competition.

The German clubs had started the campaign full of hope, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund having just reached the finals of the Champions League and the Uefa Cup respectively, but it all went horribly wrong.

Bayern, reduced to chasing more domestic silverware, soon made it clear that they were too good for the rest of the Bundesliga while living up to their FC Hollywood nickname with more squabbling and scandals than ever.

The Bavarians were involved in a bitter row with German soccer authorities for getting themselves a lucrative top-up through a secret marketing deal with the troubled KirchMedia group.

“I wish people would concentrate on our performances on the pitch because we’re a football team,” Bayern commercial director Uli Hoeness said at one stage.

Nobody listened and Oliver Kahn, Bayern’s goalkeeper and captain, also attracted unwanted publicity after admitting that he had betrayed his pregnant wife by having an affair with a barmaid. There was more bad news for German clubs on the money front.

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