Bayern Munich: Summer signings have made the difference
Mario Mandzukic and Dante have exceeded expectations at the Allianz Arena this season
Bayern Munich has been a winning machine all season long in all competitions after suffering a devastating end to the 2011/12 season.
The Bavarians lost the German Cup final, the Bundesliga title to Borussia Dortmund and, of course, the Champions League final against Chelsea.
With the heartbreak of losing the Champions League final in front of their home fans, Bayern coach Jupp Hynckes set out over last summer plotting how to bounce back without mercy for the 2012/13 season. He sat down carefully and drafted up a list of players who could help his team become revered opposition for the rest of the world.
Heynckes had captured Xherdan Shaqiri as early as February 2012, along with Dante from Borussia Mönchengladbach in April 2012, but then set out to add Mario Mandzukic and Javi Martinez.
Dante cost a mere £4m, while Shaqiri and Mandzukic came at a price of £10m and Martinez was a club record at £34m respectively. Martinez has been rock solid since his arrival forming a formidable partnership in the middle of the park with Bastian Schweinsteiger. However, it has been the form of Dante and Mandzukic that has really caught the eye of the football world despite costing the Bavarians a pocket change.
Since moving to the Allianz Arena the 29-year-old Brazilian, Dante, has hit his peak of form. He has been a wall in front of Manuel Neuer and has not put a foot wrong in the Bayern defence.
Dante is a tough-tackling defender who reads the game very well, is strong in the air and uses the ball brilliantly. He has been an ever-present figure in the Bayern defence all season and has been one of the best if not the best defender on form all season long in Europe.
Bayern can take all the praise for that as at a cost of just £4m - surely now looks like a steal for them as they are reaping the rewards of a man on top form who is not on earth at the moment.
The Bavarians have kept 21 cleans sheets in 34 Bundesliga matches and Dante can take lots of plaudits for that. Bayern have conceded just 18 goals which is the fewest in the Bundesliga and is a very impressive record.
Dante is also a threat from set-pieces and has caused problems for lots of teams in the penalty box. He has scored one goal for Bayern Munich and has two assists. He has made a name for himself in Europe over this season and his form as earned him a spot in Brazil's 2013 Confederation's Cup squad.
Mandzukic is another great addition to the Bavarians. The Croatian striker has been in great form all season after a good showing at Euro 2012. Mandzukic has added another dimension to Bayern's attack as he is very mobile, strong and has some amount of pace.
The summer signing has the ability to hold the ball up, beat his defender and offers a good outlet wide when the likes of Franck Ribery, Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben are not out wide. His movement and comfort with the ball at his feet has been great all season and is the reason he has kept Mario Gomez on the bench all season.
Mandzukic has scored 20 goals in all competitions this season and has bagged two assists as well. The Croatian has surely exceeded his expectations and will be looking to end the season on a high as he will feature in the Champions League final at Wembley as well as the German Cup final. He will be hoping to be on the scoresheet in both encounters and will be hoping to taste glory in his first season with the Bavarians.
With all the hype surrounding the transfers of Robin van Persie, Eden Hazard and Luka Modric, it has been Dante and Mario Mandzukic who has done the most on the pitch where it matters most.
Bayern Munich made great additions to their squad last summer and it has paid off immensely as they have captured the Bundesliga title by 25 points and they are in the German Cup final and the Champions League final.
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