History of FC Bayern Munich
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (June 2008)|
History to World War II 
The club was formed in 1900 when a number of football enthusiasts split from Münchner TurnVerein 1879 to escape the influence of the club's gymnasts, who did not hold a great enthusiasm for the new game – an attitude typical of the times. Almost from day one Bayern was a strong local side, but failed to have much of an impact beyond that.
For financial reasons, and to take advantage of better facilities held by other clubs, they twice entered into mergers. In 1906, they negotiated a union with Münchner Sport Club. As part of the arrangement the footballers gave up black as one of their team colours and adopted the red of their new partners, which they wear to this day. Bayern won their first title, as champions of the Bavarian league, in 1909 as a department of MSC. In 1919, shortly after World War I, Bayern left MSC, whose focus turned to field hockey and tennis, sports they are still active in today. Bayern then joined forces with Turn- und Sportverein 1890 Jahn München until leaving that club in 1923, and have remained independent ever since.
In these early days, Bavarian football was dominated by teams from Franconia, in the north of the state, notably 1. FC Nuremberg and their twin town neighbours SpVgg Fürth. In 1914, Fürth became the first team from the state to become national champions and by 1930 these two sides had accumulated eight titles between them. Bayern President Kurt Landauer, hold the office on and off from 1913 til 1933 and from 1947 well into the 1950s, adopted a strategic approach to building up the team and challenging this dominance. He hired William Townley as the side's first professional coach. The Englishman was the best coach on the market in Germany and had a championship with Karlsruher FV, in 1910, to his credit.
In 1926, the Bayern won the South German Championship, but found themselves outdone by local rivals 1860 Munich who, in 1931, became the first side from the Bavarian capital to reach the national final. Inside a year Bayern topped this by even winning the Championship in the final against Eintracht Frankfurt. The team coached by the Hungarian Richard Dombi triumphed through a penalty by Oskar "Ossi" Rohr and another goal by Franz Krumm 2–0.
But history was against Bayern. The advent of the Hitler regime saw the Jewish President Landauer resigning quickly, and the team visiting him in his Swiss exile did not help their fortunes in the new era. Dombi, also a Jew, moved on the Netherlands where he picked up the reins of SC Feijenoord in Rotterdam, and laid the foundations for the future greatness of the club. In the ensuing years the club decayed into irrelevance.
An interesting historical footnote is the fact that the last recorded football match played in the Reich was the derby between Bayern and 1860 Munich (3–2) on April 23, 1945. Less than three weeks later Germany capitulated.
Transition years 
After World War II, Bayern played in the Oberliga Süd which was one of five upper league conferences established in the western half of the country. Through the period from the formation of the Oberligen in 1947 to the creation of the Bundesliga, Germany's professional league, in 1963, they played as a middling side. The best they could manage in their division was third- and fourth-place finishes. They even found themselves relegated to the second tier 2nd Oberliga Süd for the 1956 season – the first and only time this has happened.
Bayern did enjoy some measure of success outside of regular league play. They captured the 1957 German Cup, just their second national trophy, on a 78th minute goal by Rudi Jobst against Fortuna Düsseldorf. October 16, 1962, marked the debut of the club on the European scene. In the opening round of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup they beat Switzerland's FC Basel (3–0), but then went out in the quarter finals against eventual finalist NK Dinamo Zagreb (1–4) and (0–0).
Early Successes in the Bundesliga 
With the beginning of the 1963–64 season the first German division – which until then had been split into five regional divisions – was unified into one national league, the Bundesliga.
The start of the new league saw disappointment for Bayern. As TSV 1860 had just won the last Oberliga championship – one of the few occasions they have been ahead of Bayern in that era – it was them who joined the new elite of German football. Bayern's newly elected president Wilhelm Neudecker, the father of the modern FC Bayern hired Zlatko "Czik" Čajkovski, a former Yugoslav World Cup player in 1950 and 1954, who had also achieved fame for coaching Cologne to the 1962 championship. This coup paid off, as he formed an aspiring team with the talented young players that should later be referred to as "the axis": goal keeper Sepp Maier, Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Müller. After missing out on promotion to the Bundesliga in 1964, finishing second in the league behind Hessen Kassel, Bayern won the Regionalliga Süd (II) in 1965 and gained promotion alongside future rival Borussia Mönchengladbach.
The team, average age 22, immediately reached third place in the league in a year when a sparkling 1860 won their first and only national champions title. Even more important for Bayern was the win in the Cup final against MSV Duisburg (4–2), leading them into the Cup Winners Cup.
The team's star was the 20 year old Franz Beckenbauer who finished the season off by playing at the World Cup 1966 in England where he captured the imagination of a global audience. His efforts were rewarded with a third place in the voting for Europe's Player of the Year.
In the next season Bayern became the only third German team ever to defend the German Cup as Hamburg proved easy prey in the final and were wiped away with a record 4–0 win. The highlight was the participation in the European Cup Winners Cup in Nuremberg which the young team won in a dramatic final 1–0 against Rangers. The goal in extra time was scored by Franz "the Bull" Roth, who would win many other cup finals for Bayern.
A slowdown of progress in the 1967–68 season saw another Yugoslav, Branko Zebec taking over Čajkovski's job. He curbed the offensive style of the Bayern play and the discipline paid off when Bayern won the 1968–69 Championship with the Cup to boot: the first double in Bundesliga history. During the whole season Bayern used only 13 players.
Borussia Mönchengladbach, promoted to the Bundesliga in the same year as Bayern, emerged as serious rivals to Bayern's ascendancy. They would win the next two championships, and Bayern president Neudecker, on the recommendation of Beckenbauer, called on Udo Lattek from the coaching staff of the national team to take over the reins at Bayern. In his first year he only managed to return the Cup to the banks of Isar river, but with young and hungry reinforcements such as Paul Breitner and Uli Hoeneß he formed the team that achieved the first German Championship hat-trick in history.
1972 – the Watershed 
In the last match of the 1971–72 season Bayern sealed their return to Germany's top with a stunning 5–1 win against Schalke 04. Schalke needed a win to get the title but only ended up the best runner-up in Bundesliga history. This was also Bayern's first official match in the new Olympic Stadium. The sellout crowd of 80 000 assured the club the first gate in excess a 1 000 000 Marks.
Their home ground until then was the Municipal Stadion an der Grünwalder Strasse, colloquially referred to as the Grünwalder, or Sechz'ger ("Sixtier"), as it was owned before the war by TSV 1860. It was a pretty run down place with a maximum capacity of around 40 000, mostly standing places. Indeed it was so downmarket that Munich – the country's third largest city – had not hosted a single national team match since 1940.
The Olympic Stadium in its heyday considered one of the world's most beautiful and comfortable stadiums, meaning a major boost for Bayern's revenues, not only because of its mere capacity, but also because of the much higher number of premium-priced seats. Thus, the 1972 Olympics in Munich were a major boost for the club and assured them financial superiority at least until the 1974 World Cup with its flood of new and rebuilt stadiums in the rest of the country. Successive successful seasons on the European stage helped to fill the stadium in an era when the gate revenue was still the very major source of income. Sponsorships and TV rights were a welcome but minor addition to annual budgets that were then around five million euros. Transfer fee surpluses could also contribute, but, if achieved, meant generally a loss of quality in the team.
Beyond a quality leadership, the luck of having players of the highest quality grown from the own ranks or acquired cheaply as young talents and the fact that in those days the Italian and Spanish leagues were closed to foreign players, the perfect timing of the arrival of the new stadium was probably the most crucial point in securing Bayern a foremost position on the national and also European level. It allowed Bayern, (as opposed to rivals Mönchengladbach) to keep their major players on board, and even expand from there.
When Spain in 1973 re-opened its borders to foreign talent a giant 1.5m euro offer for Gerd Müller from FC Barcelona could be fended off and Barça had to make do with Johan Cruijff. On the other hand the national rivals from the Rhine, Mönchengladbach, had to let their superstar Günter Netzer go to Real Madrid. Soon thereafter Bayern could also hire the services of Jupp Kapellmann from Cologne's 1. FC for the then national record transfer fee of almost 400 000 euros.
1972, crowned with a championship that broke all records – most of them still intact – was year in which Bayern to became a global player. On top of this, six players from Bayern were part of the German squad, on of their most stylish of all time, that won the European Championship put just another exclamation mark to this watershed season. The defence of the title the following year with a record gap to the nearest suitor served in historic terms merely as confirmation of the new facts.
The third championship in 1974 coincided with Bayern also becoming the first German team to win the European Cup. In the last minute of extra time in the Heysel Stadium, full back Georg Schwarzenbeck surprised everyone (including himself) when he scored an equaliser against Atlético Madrid from 35 meters. The first ever replay of a European Cup final two days later saw two goals each from Uli Hoeneß and Gerd Müller, comfortably winning Bayern the cup.
Six Bayern players were also part of the German side that won the World Cup final of the same year against the Netherlands. In the following season the team's motivation on the national level was exhausted, but under coach Dettmar Cramer they still managed to score the big points. In 1975 Leeds United were defeated in the Champions Cup final in Paris when "Bull" Roth and Müller secured the defence of the cup with their late goals. Bayern then also established a new record of sorts: the only Champions Cup winner to date with a negative national league record in the same season. Within twelve months, in Glasgow, AS Saint-Étienne were beaten by another goal of Franz Roth and Bayern became the third, and to date last team to win the trophy in three consecutive years.
The Intercontinental Cup finals in December 1976 marked the end of this great era. Bayern prevailed once more. In a frosty Olympiastadion the playful Brazilians from Cruzeiro Belo Horizonte fell prey to goals by Jupp Kapellmann and Müller. A monumental defensive effort front of 117 000 held Cruzeiro to a nil-nil draw on their home turf. Within the next couple of years Beckenbauer and Müller left for the USA and Maier's career was ended by a car accident – after he had been ever-present for 13 seasons in the start line-up of the team, which was a world record. Bayern were in need of a new beginning.
Renewed Success in the 1980s 
Lack of success saw president Neudecker on the verge of contracting Max Merkel as new coach – the team unanimously voted against him. This novel type of revolution saw Bayern dominating the television news in a culture where sports were an irregular addendum to them. The resulting resignation of the autocratic president Neudecker, arguably the father of the modern FC Bayern, was again the top news item, even on the highbrow Tagesschau news in an era without commercial television.
Hungarian Pal Csernai, who had been assistant to Cramer's replacement, Gyula Lorant, became head coach. In his tenure he revolutionised the style of Bayern by introducing the spatial defence, then in Munich referred to as Pal System. When Paul Breitner returned via Braunschweig from his years with Real Madrid he formed a partnership with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. The FC Breitnigge, reinforced with Belgian goal-keeping legend Jean-Marie Pfaff, Klaus Augenthaler and striker Dieter Hoeneß (brother of Uli), brought success back to Munich. Two championships and a cup resulted from this era. Their dreams of another European Cup were thwarted in the final of Rotterdam against Aston Villa, when for a brief moment a man named Peter Withe stepped out of obscurity and scored the decider for the team from Birmingham. This was also the first official final that Bayern had lost in its history after twelve undefeated final appearances.
The era of Csernai came to an end when success no longer seemed assured and his eccentricity endangered the image of the club with their major sponsors. Udo Lattek was appointed for a second spell at the Isar, and he did not disappoint, despite initial financial issues. For hiring Danish playmaker Søren Lerby from Ajax to replace the retiring Breitner, Bayern had pledged "the last money", so president W.O. Hoffmann.
The cup victory in the 1984 final against Mönchengladbach was won in the penalty shootout, the first in the history of this competition. The young Lothar Matthäus, whose transfer to Munich for 1.2m euros was announced just weeks before, missed the first penalty for his old team.
After Rummenigge's transfer to Inter for a world record fee of more than 5m euros restored the club's finances, the team had now lost its superstars, but the reformed squad secured one more cup, as part of a double, and five championships inside six years including the second hat-trick, leading to the tenth title allowing the club to finally overtake 1. FC Nuremberg as record holders. But it became another generation to be denied continental glory when, in the 1987 Champions Cup final of Vienna, FC Porto prevailed thanks to two goals by Madjer and Juary in the last 13 minutes. The early Bayern lead through a header by Ludwig Kögl proved not enough.
Udo Lattek decided to retire afterwards and Bayern, keen on refilling their coffers, let go of quite a few players.
The new coach, Jupp Heynckes, already at his former post in Mönchengladbach successor of Lattek, started with a title-free season, after which Matthäus and Andreas Brehme went to Inter from where a generous reimbursement was received. Also Pfaff and three more players left. As Olaf Thon and Stefan Reuter were the most prominent newcomers, hopes were not high, but in the next couple of years two more championships were won. Augenthaler's retirement and the sale of Jürgen Kohler and Stefan Reuter to Juventus badly depleted the squad. Two seasons without any trophies followed, and cost Heynckes his job.
Søren Lerby rejoined the club as manager, unfortunately his tenure proved to be an absolute disaster as weak signings and ineffective tactics left Bayern facing an unthinkable relegation by the time Lerby was sacked in early 1992. Making matters worse B 1903 Copenhagen ousted Bayern from the UEFA Cup with ease with 6–2 / 0–1. Erich Ribbeck took over as coach, working with Franz Beckenbauer as director of sport, and managed to steer the club to safety.
The club was not keen on repeating the disaster of 1991–92, and in the next season Bayern spent 12m euros on the new players. Thomas Helmer (4m), Brazil's captain Jorginho (2.8m) and Lothar Matthäus (2m) topped the bill of a list that also included Mehmet Scholl. Calming the nerves of the thrifty president Dr. Fritz Scherer, economics professor at Munich University, was the sale of Stefan Effenberg and Brian Laudrup for 8.5m euros to Fiorentina. The rebuilt side came close to winning the title, but just missed out. Ribbeck's tactics (which were felt to be overly negative) were blamed for this, and when the following season looked to be going no differently, Beckenbauer dismissed Ribbeck and took control of the team himself. An immediate upturn in form saw Bayern take that year's title.
Kaiser Franz's status as a club legend was reinforced, and a few years later he became president, with Giovanni Trapattoni being hired as the first Italian coach in the Bundesliga. "Trap" gained the respect of the pundits, but problems (supposedly caused by Trappatoni having a poor grasp of German) saw the team in disarray. After a sixth place finish, Trappatoni returned to Italy, and Otto Rehhagel was appointed manager, with the hope that he could bring the success he had earned with Werder Bremen to a team that was by then often referred to as FC Hollywood. As the team continued to have more impact on the social pages of the tabloids than on the pitch "King Otto's" tenure was cut short due to disagreements with the board, and Beckenbauer steered the club to victory in the finals of the 1996 UEFA Cup against Girondins from Bordeaux. Zidane, Dugarry, Lizarazu and Holland's Witschge are outclassed 2–0 and even 3–1 away. Jürgen Klinsmann scored a record breaking 15 goals in this European campaign that led Bayern to their first continental trophy in 20 years, after eliminating, amongst others Benfica, Nottingham Forest and FC Barcelona.
Giovanni Trapattoni returned as coach – now with a fluent grasp of German – and rewarded the renewed trust with an immediate championship, followed by League runner-up and a cup win the next season, after which he once more returned to Italy.
Beginning of the new Millennium 
The next six years would be marked by enormous success. It was the time when Ottmar Hitzfeld succeeded Udo Lattek as most successful German coach, even finding a spot for himself amongst the greatest European coaches of all time.
In his first season in 1999 Bayern won the league title, but undeniably the highlight was the unforgettable UEFA Champions League final in Barcelona. Bayern led early after a Mario Basler free kick and controlled most of the match, but Manchester United sensationally turned the match in stoppage time. Inside 90 seconds Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær transformed an excellent performance of Bayern into the sight of uninhibited tears by Samuel Kuffour and co. Adding insult to injury, Bayern lost in a penalty shootout in the national cup final against Werder Bremen two weeks later. For Lothar Matthäus it was the second time that he missed a decisive penalty in a cup final.
In the next season Bremen saw Bayern take their revenge with a 3–0 victory in a repeat of this cup final and thus Bayern achieving its third double. In Europe the campaign of the team now dominated by goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, midfield engine Stefan Effenberg and striker Giovane Elber ended in the semifinal encounters with later winners Real Madrid (0–2, 2–1).
In 2001, after a quarter of a century of absence the European Cup eventually returned to Munich. Bayern exacted revenge against 1999 winners Manchester United in the quarter finals with two wins (1–0, 2–1). The semifinal again witnessed a revenge fixture, this time Real Madrid were the opponents: Bayern won both matches against the Castilians (1–0, 2–1). At the final in Milan, Valencia CF from Spain came off second best, like in the previous year. In a hardly memorable match all goals where achieved by spot kicks. In the end Bayern prevailed deservedly in the penalty shootout (1–1 (5-4p)). The backbone of this team was Oliver Kahn who held three penalties and whose mental fortitude was also crucial for winning the national championship just a few days earlier. In the heartbreak finish of the Bundesliga Bayern stayed ahead of Schalke through Swedish defender Patrik Andersson's goal in Hamburg in literally the last second of the season and assured the club a third consecutive title. For runners up Schalke 04, their 4½ minutes of championship celebrations proved premature.
In the next season the team was not able to win a record 4th consecutive Bundesliga title, or the cup. In the Champions League quarter-final later winners Real Madrid prevailed with 3–2 aggregate win (2–1 0–2).The saving grace was the win of the Intercontinental Cup in Tokyo against Boca Juniors of Buenos Aires through a goal of Sammy Kuffour in extra time.
National glory returned in 2002–03 when Bayern achieved its fourth double by winning the Bundesliga with the second largest gap ever to the runner up and a straight 3–1 win over 1. FC Kaiserslautern in the cup final. However, the whole season was overshadowed by Bayern's unceremonious exit from the Champions League in the first group stage, without so much as a single win in six matches. In the following season the team, enhanced with the 19m euros acquisition of Dutch striker Roy Makaay from Deportivo La Coruña, overcame at least this hurdle, but even an underperforming Real Madrid in crisis managed to eliminate the Reds in the round of the last 16. Bayern itself was not reaching any consistent form all year and even the formerly sturdy defence proved highly vulnerable. In the end the second place in the league was not descriptive of Bayern's strength but rather of inconsistent performances by the competitors. The cup elimination by second division Alemannia Aachen was symptomatic for a season in which the team showed not a single convincing performance. Even the newcomers Michael Ballack and the World Cup winning defender Lúcio could not make a difference.
At the end it was decided to that Hitzfeld should leave the club and Felix Magath, as player part of the Hamburger SV side of the late 70s to mid 80s which was so highly competitive with Bayern and also successful in Europe, was given the chance to put his mark on a new Bayern generation. In his first year in charge he steered the club to a double.
Beginning with the 2005–06 season, Bayern moved from the Olympic Stadium to the new Allianz Arena, which the club owns jointly with local rivals TSV 1860. Since the move, Bayern has won most of their matches there, and the stadium was well received by the fans: almost all home matches were in front of sell-out crowds. It was again the national double that could be celebrated in the new ground at the end of the season; however, the club's performance on international level proved once more to be rather dismal: a crushing 1–4 defeat by AC Milan in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League put a quick end to their campaign. The Championship Plate and the Cup were also farewell presents for Bixente Lizarazu and Jens Jeremies, two players who ended their career after many successful years for the club. The loss of influential player Michael Ballack to Chelsea on a free transfer greatly upset Karl-Heinz Rummenigge who has moaned about Chelsea's spending power being "Not acceptable or fair."
For the 2006–07 season, Bayern thinned out their squad with Michael Ballack and Zé Roberto leaving the club (the Brazilian did not get along well with Magath), José Paolo Guerrero being sold to Bundesliga rivals Hamburger SV and Bixente Lizarazu and Jens Jeremies ending their careers. German international Lukas Podolski moved to Bayern after months of speculation concerning his future after the relegation of his former club 1. FC Köln. To strengthen their defence, Daniel van Buyten was signed from Hamburger SV. Due to the club's early exits in the previous years expectations on international level were toned down by the clubs officials, also reflecting their reluctance to spend extremely high sums on "superstar" players, despite the widespread opinion among observers that a new high profile playmaker was needed to replace Ballack. However, when Dutch star striker Ruud van Nistelrooy's ambitions to leave Manchester United became public, Uli Hoeneß expressed the intention to sign him for Bayern, ultimately failing to do so when van Nistelrooy chose to join Real Madrid. The very final day of the 2006 summer transfer period would still see Bayern making a major announcement as they picked up Dutch international Mark van Bommel who had fallen out of favor at FC Barcelona. Those calling for a real "number 10" were disappointed with this move, as van Bommel is a defensive midfield "worker" rather than a creative playmaker; nonetheless, his leadership qualities and uncompromising style of play would prove important for the team, eventually securing him the captain's armband after Oliver Kahn's retirement in 2008.
After an unconvincing first half of the season, Magath was sacked in January 2007 over fears of not qualifying for the following season's Champions League. He was replaced by Hitzfeld, returning for his second spell in charge. He was, despite his best efforts, not able to turn it around and qualify with Bayern Munich for the 2007–08 Champions League campaign, which "relegated" the Munich squad to the UEFA Cup, in which they had last played in the 1995–96 season. A 0–2 home defeat against AC Milan in the Champions League and a devastating 0–2 away defeat at later Bundesliga Champions VfB Stuttgart in particular caused the club officials to re-evaluate the team at hand that finished fourth in the Bundesliga; it was already stated well within the 2006–07 season that the following year's team would be drastically different.
Months before the season's end, Bayern started courting Werder Bremen's star forward Miroslav Klose without first talking to the club, greatly upsetting Bremen officials, who stated that they fully expected Klose to honor his contract that ran until 2008. Uli Hoeneß replied that if Bremen insisted on Klose playing another season with them, the transfer would definitely take place one year later. It was probably when it became apparent that Klose would be "the player that will join Bayern" for over a year if he stayed that Werder Bremen eventually agreed on the transfer for a purported sum of about 12 million euro.
Apart from Klose, the two most prominent signings for the 2007–08 season were Italian World Cup winner Luca Toni and French midfielder Franck Ribéry, with the latter transfer alone costing Bayern a club record fee of 25 million euro. Other prominent players to join the "new" Bayern for the 2007–2008 season were German internationals Marcell Jansen and Jan Schlaudraff. These five were completed by Argentinian youth international José Ernesto Sosa, Turkish international Hamit Altıntop (from Schalke 04) and the returning Zé Roberto for his second spell with the Reds after one year with FC Santos.
The other side of renewing the team was a number of notable players leaving the club. Owen Hargreaves was signed by Manchester United after Bayern had refused the transfer a year earlier. Claudio Pizarro and Roque Santa Cruz left for English clubs; Pizarro joined Chelsea FC, while Santa Cruz quickly rose to prominence at Blackburn Rovers, scoring 19 goals in his first Premier League season after 31 Bundesliga goals in eight years at Bayern. Roy Makaay moved to Feyenoord Rotterdam, seeing his starting team chances dwindle with the signings of Toni and Klose. Ali Karimi left the club after two seasons, while Andreas Görlitz was loaned to Karlsruher SC. With Hasan Salihamidzic and Mehmet Scholl, two players left the club who had played many years for Bayern Munich. Salihamidzic signed for Juventus, while Scholl ended his career at the age of 36, playing in the last match of the season and scoring his last goal. He would be given a farewell match before the start of the new season, when Bayern played against FC Barcelona for the "Franz Beckenbauer Cup".
The effort made would immediately prove fruitful in a successful Bundesliga campaign that saw Bayern dominating the league and exclusively occupying the top spot of the table throughout the whole season, only being defeated twice in 34 matches and setting a new Bundesliga record for least goals conceded at 21. They also completed another double as they defeated Borussia Dortmund in the cup final.
Pre-season top transfers Ribéry and Toni would also prove to be league's most influential players. Franck Ribéry was usually named the league's most technically gifted player and often seemed virtually unstoppable by the opposing defense lines; he scored 11 goals and 8 assists and was voted Germany's Footballer of the Year at the end of his first Bundesliga season. Luca Toni became the league's top scorer with 24 goals, scoring a total of 39 goals in 46 official matches. His popularity was further increased by achieving feats like scoring four goals in a 6–0 UEFA Cup win against Greek club Aris BC, a "perfect" hat-trick in a Bundesliga match against Hannover 96 and four braces within 10 days in a UEFA Cup match, two Bundesliga games and the domestic cup final. His strike partner Klose, however, played a disappointing season overall, starting very strong with eight goals in his first six matches and only two more for the rest of the season.
Bayern's "unwanted" (as the club aspires to play in the Champions League exclusively) UEFA Cup campaign saw mixed performances against teams clearly perceived as weaker (such as Bolton Wanderers, Belenenses or Getafe CF), but they managed to reach the semifinals where they were eliminated in a humiliating 0–4 away defeat to Russian champions and eventual cup winners Zenit St. Petersburg.
The 2008–09 season saw former Bayern star and German national coach Jürgen Klinsmann taking charge as the team's new coach, while long-term goalkeeper and captain Oliver Kahn ended his career. The team performed inconsistently in the domestic league while initially achieving strong results in its Champions League campaign: most notably, Bayern advanced to the quarterfinals after a record joint leg 12–1 victory over Sporting Lissabon. However, the next round saw Bayern's exit after a humiliating 0–4 defeat against eventual champions FC Barcelona. On the heels of a crucial Bundesliga loss against rival title contenders VfL Wolfsburg and in danger of missing a Champions League spot for the next season, Klinsmann was sacked and replaced with veteran coach Jupp Heynckes, who was brought back from retirement for the last remaining matches. Heynckes managed to win a string of games and eventually secured the second place for Bayern, but had no plans to stay at the club.
Prior to the 2009–10 season, Bayern made major changes to both the squad and the management, hiring Dutch coach Louis van Gaal and strikers Arjen Robben and Mario Gomez, with the latter purchase setting a new club record fee of € 30 million. Shortly before the end of the year, long-term manager Uli Hoeneß retired from that position and assumed the club's presidency. After a rocky start into the new season, the team began to pick up steam in late fall, defeating Juventus 4–1 in a make-or-break Champions League group stage match and steadily ascending in the Bundesliga. Led by a brilliant Robben who scored a string of crucial goals in all competitions, Bayern was eventually able to secure both domestic titles and advanced to the Champions League final in Madrid. While they were ultimately unable to overcome Inter, finishing as runners-up still meant that the 2009–10 season was Bayern's most successful in almost a decade.
After the team's highly successful run in previous year, the Bayern management deferred to van Gaal's assessment that no further transfers were needed in the run-up to the 2010-11 season. Some players who had already been transferred away on a loan basis the year before, like Luca Toni and José Sosa, were sold outright. Returnee Toni Kroos, who had also spent the last one-and-a-half years on loan at Bayer Leverkusen, was the only notable addition to the squad. Bayern again had to deal with a string of injuries that befell key players, most notably Robben, who missed the whole first leg of the season due to a harmstring injury that he had picked up when preparing for the 2010 World Cup with his national team. The team got off to a very poor start in the league, only scoring eight points out of the first seven Bundesliga games and quickly conceding a substantial lead to eventual champions Borussia Dortmund. Hampered by consistently weak showings of its defense, Bayern finished the first leg of the season in 5th place, 14 points behind Dortmund. The winter transfer period saw the addition of Luiz Gustavo (from Hoffenheim) against the departures of captain Mark van Bommel (to Milan) and central defender Martin Demichelis (to Málaga). While Bayern did much better during the season's second leg, scoring the most league points of all teams, Dortmund's lead would eventually prove insurmountable. At the European level, Bayern looked poised to take revenge on Inter Milan for their final loss the year before, but despite a 1-0 away victory, the team exited the competition after a 2-3 home loss. Having already agreed to terminate his contract at the end of the season, van Gaal was ultimately sacked outright on April 10. Former assistant coach Andries Jonker took over the team and managed to win the third place in the league, achieving the minimum aim of reaching a Champions League qualification spot.