Bayern target to end silverware wait
With a commanding lead at the top of the Bundesliga and a place in the Champions League knock-out phase secured, German giants Bayern Munich aim to end their three-year wait for silverware in 2013.
Having finished their Champions League group-stage campaign with a 4-1 win over BATE Borisov in Munich on December 5 to leave them top of their group, Bayern aim to be at the front of the queue when titles are decided next May.
The Bundesliga's top clubs end 2012 in rude European health with Bayern joining Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 in winning their respective Champions League groups.
"I am 100% sure that we will be German champions (in May)," France star Franck Ribery has said.
Under current Holland coach Louis van Gaal, Bayern won the German Cup in 2010 as part of the domestic double before losing to Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan in that season's Champions League final.
Since then it has been two miserable seasons for Bayern, reaching its nadir last May when Borussia Dortmund lifted their second consecutive Bundesliga title as Munich tasted disappointment three times during a disastrous fortnight.
Firstly, Dortmund were confirmed league champions on May 5, winning the title by eight points with Bayern second.
Then Borussia hammered Munich 5-2 in the German Cup final on May 12 with Poland striker Robert Lewandowski scoring a hat-trick and Japan's Shinji Kagawa running Bayern's midfield ragged in a confidence-draining defeat.
The Bavarians went on to lose the Champions League final in their own Allianz Arena stadium on May 19 when Chelsea won the penalty shoot-out.
This season, Bayern are showing a steely determination and are bidding to reach their third Champions League final in four years.
"The fact is Bayern are showing a different nature compared to last season, they are greedy and bitter," admitted Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp.
Financially, the Bundesliga is booming with record attendances and both title rivals Bayern (11m euros) and Dortmund (34.3m euros) returning record profits for the 2011-12 season.
Deloitte figures for 2011 showed the Bundesliga is Europe's second highest earner in revenue bringing in 1 746m euros, second only to England's Premier League (2 515m).
Spain's Javi Martinez became the Bundesliga's record signing when he joined Bayern Munich for 40 million euros ($52.34 million) in August from Athletic Bilbao.
Dortmund sold Kagawa to Manchester United for 14 million euros in July having bought him from Cerezo Osaka for 350 000 euros ($450 000) in 2010.
Borussia replaced Kagawa with Germany's rising star Marco Reus, a name to watch out for in the build-up to the Brazil World Cup in 2014, for 17 million euros ($22 million) from Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Reus scored their goal in the 1-1 draw in the Champions League group game at Manchester City, then at Real Madrid in the key 2-2 draw and also found the net in the 4-1 win at Ajax which Dortmund produced despite just 33 percent possession.