Soccer-Bayern consistency pays off with ninth straight Bundesliga title

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Bundesliga - Bayern Munich v Borussia Moenchengladbach
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MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - Bayern Munich on Saturday earned their ninth consecutive Bundesliga title after RB Leipzig's 3-2 loss at Borussia Dortmund and their own later 6-0 demolition of Borussia Moenchengladbach that put them 10 points clear with two games left to play.

While the Bavarians claimed their 31st German league title and their 30th Bundesliga crown since the introduction of the top division in 1963, they had to work harder for it than in past seasons.

Their six-title haul in 2019/2020 came amid interruptions in play due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning Bayern have had to dig much deeper this term to stay so dominant in Germany.

By the time the Bundesliga campaign got under way in September they had won five of those titles, with a sixth following in early 2021 with the Club World Cup crown.

But their busy schedule meant Hansi Flick's team never had a summer break to recover from an intense season, with the Champions League final in August followed by the regular season start only weeks later.

This meant they had to play through while rivals Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig enjoyed a longer break, fewer international competitions and a much lighter schedule.

Bayern's fatigue started to show after the first few months and a run of eight consecutive league games when they fell behind by at least a goal.

But despite a far from solid backline, the Bavarians lost none of those eight matches, winning five and drawing three.

Their winning cards up front remained top striker Robert Lewandowski who, after taking the world player award for last season, picked up where he left off, and a rejuvenated Thomas Mueller.

Lewandowski has scored 39 times in their 32 league games so far and is within touching distance of Gerd Mueller's all-time record of 40 league goals in one season, set in the 1971/72 campaign.

For Mueller, who together with David Alaba became the first Bundesliga player to win 10 league crowns, it was a season that could see him earn a Germany callup for the Euros after more than two years, having scored 10 goals and set up another 17.

That consistency proved decisive as title rivals Borussia Dortmund's rollercoaster season eventually put them out of contention, leaving Leipzig as the only real threat to Bayern's enduring domestic dominance.

But a strong finish kept Bayern in front as Leipzig wobbled.

The eventual champions have now won eight of their last 10 league games, while Leipzig managed just five wins in the same period.

As Flick departs after less than two full seasons in charge, to be succeeded by Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann, he will leave knowing that Bayern have now won more than half of the 58 Bundesliga titles since 1963 - including two under his own short leadership.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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