Bayern Munich end a triumphant year celebrating the world club title and tightening their grip on the Bundesliga following defeats of rivals Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund.
Bayern remain seven points clear of Leverkusen and 12 ahead of Dortmund with a game in hand and go into German football’s winter break celebrating five trophies this year.
Saturday’s 2-0 Club World Cup final victory over Moroccan champions Raja Casablanca in Marrakesh gives the club its third intercontinental title and follows the treble of Champions League, league and cup titles, plus European Super Cup.
“Five trophies in one year is an incredible success for Bayern,” coach Pep Guardiola said.
“I’m very happy for the club and very proud of my players and the fans. We have a two-week break ahead of us, and we’ll come back to tackle the challenges that lie ahead. We’re very happy with our achievements, but we have to look forward.”
Bayern are very much in control in the league where they next have a visit to Borussia Moenchengladbach on January 24 to open the second half of the season, while they have again been pitted against Arsenal in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Bayern have gone a record 41 league matches without defeat, and this season have won 14 and drawn two of their 16 games.
Meanwhile Borussia Dortmund, who have been their main rivals, have faltered recently as coach Juergen Klopp struggles to compensate for injuries to several key players.
Dortmund slipped at home Saturday to a 2-1 defeat by Hertha Berlin and have lost three successive home games for the first time since April 2000, picking up only four points from the last six games.
Klopp says the winter break cannot come soon enough.
“Especially the last third of the year was unbelievably tough for us,” he said.
“We can really use the winter break and a rest. We have gotten ourselves in this position and have things that we need to think about during the break. That’s what I will do now, and on January 5 (when training resumes) we start from scratch again.”
Leverkusen also ended the year tamely with a 1-0 home defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt and another 1-0 loss on Saturday, this time at Werder Bremen, who had been shipping goals recently.
Dortmund and Leverkusen, both also in the Champions League last 16, meanwhile have to look out for Moenchengladbach and Wolfsburg, who are both challenging hard.
Promoted Hertha Berlin under Dutch coach Jos Luhukay have proved a surprise, the victory in Dortmund moving them to sixth, level on points with Schalke, whose coach Jens Keller has been the subject of German media speculation on his future at the club.
Hanover’s Mirko Slomka is also under pressure after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Freiburg means his side has lost all eight away games of the season — a negative record last achieved by Eintracht Frankfurt 25 years ago.
Slomka, however, was given a vote of support from club boss Martin Kind, who told Germany’s ARD television the club would continue to work together with the coach.
“He has our confidence. We we will look together to see how we can get out of this,” he said.
Nuremberg under Dutchman Gertjan Veerbeek, who was appointed at the end of October, have meanwhile set a league record of ending the first half of the season without a win at all — a goalless draw with Schalke their 11th draw of the season.
It keeps Nuremberg second bottom, level on 11 points with promoted Eintracht Braunschweig, who picked up their third win of the season with a 1-0 defeat of Hoffenheim.