The treble is still on. Bayern Munich may not be at their brilliant, Bavarian best. They may not have the swagger they once had. But Jupp Heynckes can sure make them win.
Bayern battled to a 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday night, booking their place in the German Cup quarter-finals.
Having knocked out both Dortmund and RB Leipzig, only a fool would now bet against Bayern to win the tournament in May.
That means that Heynckes, who won the treble with Bayern in 2013, is still theoretically able to repeat the feat this year.
Yet Bayern’s performance was, once again, not that of a destructive treble-winning side. Once again, they fell prey to complacency at the wrong moment. Once again, they were still able to grind out a victory. It isn’t pretty, what Bayern are offering at the moment, but it is efficient.
Bayern were dominant in the opening phases, with Arturo Vidal hitting the bar and chances falling to both James Rodriguez and Thomas Muller.
It seemed little more than an inevitability when Jerome Boateng headed Bayern into the lead on 12 minutes. Rodriguez’ outswinging free-kick was first headed onto the bar by Niklas Sule, before Boateng popped up just inside the box to head the ball into the far corner.
The goal seemed to stir Dortmund, who rediscovered some defensive stability to keep Bayern at bay for half an hour, though they remained hopelessly trapped inside their own half
With 35 minutes gone, Aubameyang’s makeshift replacement Andriy Yarmolenko should have levelled the scores. Christian Pulisic’s cross beat David Alaba in the box to give Yarmolenko acres of space at the far post, but Alaba recovered to clear the Ukrainian’s shot off the line.
Moments later, Bayern had doubled their lead. A sharp one-two between Muller and Robert Lewandowski saw Muller break free in the box and loop a delightful chip over Roman Burki.
It was Burki who then saved Dortmund from obliteration just after half-time. With two brilliant saves, to deny first James and then Mueller, the Swiss keeper kept Dortmund with their heads above water.
If Bayern had been merciless in the first half, they were playing on autopilot by the time the hour mark rolled around. If not before, then the sense of urgency drained from Bayern’s game when Franck Ribery was substituted off on 60 minutes.
The Frenchman was celebrated by team mates and players alike as if it were his beneficiary game. Bayern were ripped from their contented slumber on 76 minutes, though, when Yarmolenko finally broke through. Shinji Kagawa sent in the cross, and the Ukrainian towered at the far post to head the ball in.
What Bayern faced in the last 15 minutes was hardly an onslaught – Dortmund are still too shaken from recent weeks to offer that much – but it was certainly nervier than it should have been.
The treble is still on. Bayern are still in all three competitions. They will almost certainly win the Bundesliga, and, barring a miracle, will probably turn that into a domestic double. The Champions League is another question. The rest of Europe may not fear Bayern on the basis of these performances, but they should at least take note of the efficiency.