Bayern Munich can dominate Champions League for years to come as Real Madrid and Barcelona fall behind

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It would be easy to believe otherwise given their failure to put a ramshackle Real Madrid to the sword, but Bayern Munich are going places. Just not to Kiev in a few weeks’ time.

Bayern were nothing but underwhelming over the course of two legs. It was like watching a technically gifted boxer go at it against a slugger and being dragged down to his opponent’s level. And there’s no team that can play rope-a-dope and land an ugly knockout blow the way this year’s Real Madrid can.

There was very little from Bayern to be impressed by. Goalkeeper Sven Ulreich may have inexplicably collapsed to the Bernabeu canvas on Tuesday night, but Jupp Heynckes’ side were staggering long before then.

The mistake would be to judge the club’s potential on those two performances. Indeed, they are something of a mystery to most fans except for when they come down from the hinterlands of the Bundesliga and compete in European competition.

Quietly, though, they have been vacuuming up some of the country’s – if not the world’s – best talent at a time when many other of Europe’s top clubs are either crumbling or stagnating.

The Champions League-winning era that saw Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery end many a full-back’s career is moving towards a swift conclusion and Robert Lewandowski, to whom scoring goals is as easy as picking daisies, is on Real’s radar.

There won’t be a mad dash to the market if and when they depart. That’s because the Bayern hierarchy have had the foresight to sign players long before they even need them.

Putting James Rodriguez to one side, the six other players that were signed in the last two transfer windows are not yet first-choice starters.

They broke their transfer record, though not the bank, for France midfielder Corentin Tolisso, 23, to the tune of €41.5 million. Kingsley Coman, the 21-year-old winger, also signed on a permanent basis, as did another one in Serge Gnabry – who was immediately loaned to Werder Bremen. Germany centre-back Niklas Sule, 21, and midfielder Sebastian Rudy, 28, also rocked up at the gates of Allianz Arena from Hoffenheim. And if they weren’t greedy enough, Bayern raided the same side again in the winter to land 30-year-old striker Sandro Wagner.

Kingsley Coman is one of many hot prospects in a young Bayern squad.

Kingsley Coman is one of many hot prospects in a young Bayern squad.

Next year another rangy midfielder in Leon Goretzka, who if you haven’t heard about yet you will have done after the World Cup, will make Munich his home too.

It’s a policy that Bayern have pursued for years, though never as aggressively as last summer. What makes it suddenly so intriguing is that all their insurance policies are in place while other European big guns are wondering where their next stars will come from.

Barcelona, for instance, were forced to pay well over the odds for Ousmane Dembele when Neymar left for Paris Saint-Germain. They can hardly be blamed for not predicting PSG would pull their expensive Brazilian rug from under them, but Barca were never exactly stuffed to the gills with depth either.

The Catalans also spent €100m plus on Coutinho – and their squad is still in desperate need of freshening up with Andres Iniesta on his way out too. The perfect replacement is Thiago … the one they let go to Bayern.

The same problem applies to Real. There is no truly promising young defender behind Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, or a striker behind Karim Benzema.

Marco Asensio is an exception in midfield yet Dani Ceballos, named the player of the Under-21 European Championship last year, barely gets a look in under Zinedine Zidane. The beauty of the Bundesliga for Bayern is that it is competitive without being energy-sapping – they can rotate their youngsters in and out at will while keeping the rest of the league at arm’s length.

It’s not so hard then to process a dip in Spain – it’s happening already. With Cristiano Ronaldo, with Lionel Messi, those two giants will always be there. A line of succession, however, is not.

As for PSG, the bullets may be gold, but their approach in the market has been scatter-gun. Why did they let young French talent like Tolisso, Coman and Dembele evade their clutches? Why was Paul Pogba lured from Manchester United by Juventus, not them?

The only squad in Europe that can match the almost bottomless pit of Bayern talent is Manchester City. They’ll be back as a Champions League force under Pep Guardiola. And as long as incoming manager Niko Kovac does not tear such a well-penned plan to shreds, so will Tuesday’s losers.

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Watch: Jupp Heynckes claims Bayern Munich were 'the better team' in Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid

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Jupp Heynckes and Bayern fell to Real Madrid.

Even though Bayern Munich failed to get past Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final, Jupp Heynckes believes his side were the better team.

After the 2-2 draw in the second leg that saw Madrid advance to the final where they’ll vie for a third straight European crown, the Bayern boss claimed his team were superior in the semi-final.

“If you look at both games, we were the better team,” Heynckes said. “But unfortunately we couldn’t make the final.”

Whether Bayern were the better team or not, the only thing that matters is the second half of Heynckes’ statement.

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Watch: Bayern Munich boss Jupp Heynckes on Real Madrid being 'given a gift' with Sven Ulreich's blunder

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Sven Ulreich's costly mistake hampered Bayern.

However you want to slice it, the howler by Bayern Munich goalkeeper Sven Ulreich in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid was a massive blow to the Germans’ hopes.

Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes said as much, stating that their “opponent was given a gift”.

Heynckes, however, was also proud of his team’s ability to respond to the blunder, saying: “We shook ourselves off, fought back and played well.”

It wasn’t enough though as Real advanced to the final on a 4-3 aggregate.

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