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Wednesday March 26, 2014 MYT 6:36:17 AM
Wednesday March 26, 2014 MYT 6:37:01 AM
by karolos grohmann
(Reuters) - When former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola agreed last year to join Bayern Munich this season, the Bavarian club was in the middle of challenging for three trophies.
A few months later his predecessor Jupp Heynckes crowned his retirement with the first German club treble of domestic league and cup titles and the Champions League.
Many asked how Guardiola, who won 14 trophies in four years with the Catalan club, could improve on Bayern's amazing season.
Fast forward seven months and the Spaniard's side are shattering every single record in their path, extending their unbeaten league run to 52 games with 19 straight victories.
They clinched the Bundesliga title in record time on Tuesday with a 3-1 win at Hertha Berlin, becoming the first team to claim the championship as early as March.
Their last domestic league defeat was back in October 2012 with Guardiola's team a more offensive, quicker and versatile machine than last season's model.
The Spaniard was instantly under pressure after losing the German Super Cup to rivals and Bundesliga runners-up Borussia Dortmund in July but he never flinched, scooping up the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup trophies.
Bayern ended Barca's nine-game Champions League-winning streak in November while remaining in a class of their own domestically.
Guardiola did not hesitate to tinker with the foundations of the team, successfully moving one of the world's best fullbacks - captain Philipp Lahm - into a holding midfielder.
The arrival of Thiago Alcantara from Barcelona and Mario Goetze from Dortmund added even more depth to the squad.
Guardiola's rotation system never triggered any major rows with big name players as Bayern cruised into a huge Bundesliga lead by the winter break and never looked back, leaving second-placed Dortmund 25 points adrift with seven games left.
An expected crisis with winger Arjen Robben, who had a brief dispute with Guardiola over a penalty in October, never materialised with the Dutchman scoring 10 goals and setting up another six in the league so far in a sparkling season.
"My wife is at times more difficult than Robben," Guardiola joked a week ago. "To explain to her my rotation system is more difficult than explaining it to Robben."
Bayern continued winning against an unsettling backdrop, with the club's president Uli Hoeness convicted in a high-profile tax evasion case earlier this month, as Guardiola kept the focus of the players firmly on the pitch.
"The Bundesliga is the most important title," he said recently.
With Bayern's sights set on an unprecedented back-to-back treble, and Manchester United awaiting in the Champions League quarter-finals, Guardiola will feel some weight lifted off his shoulders as his team hunt for even more silverware.
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