From Bayern's brilliance, via Jürgen Klopp to sausages and discos, it's our end of season German football awards
There were 13,039,267 people in the stands, 898 balls in the nets, 306 matches. But only one team.
Let's not pretend: the 50th Bundesliga season was a symphony in mono, a seven-inch single, a triumphal procession, a game of solitaire, a lonely red-and-white planet, an easy case for the Bundeskartellamt (Germany's competition regulator). Uli Hoeness's old dream of the competition needing binoculars to see Bayern Munich came true this campaign, as Jupp Heynckes's team powered away to win the league in April and finish with a barely credible 25-point gap ahead of Borussia Dortmund.
Bayern, blessed with a superb squad, an unusually strong team ethic and perfect coaching from Heynckes, experienced a rapturous season that culminated in an historic treble. On the way, more records were destroyed than at Comiskey Park's 1979 Disco Demolition Night, until the extra-ordinary looked almost mundane and the disproportionateness of it became unnerving. Borussia Dortmund's coach Jürgen Klopp wasn't the only one who feared for "Scottish conditions" in the German top flight, such was the Bavarians' dominance.
Last year's champions, by contrast, didn't have the depth and concentration levels to compete domestically, though they came close to winning the biggest prize of all in the Champions League final at Wembley. "Ninety-nine per cent is not enough, we need 100%," Klopp said after a 3-3 draw with Wolfsburg, a result characteristic of their season.
The Black and Yellows were also unsettled by Mario Götze's unscheduled defection to Bayern and Robert Lewandowski agitating for a move. On the whole, however, it was a successful season – the Champions League millions will help them cement their place as the Bundesliga's second-biggest club.
Third place was as good as a title for Bayer Leverkusen, too. Despite being led by the borderline dysfunctional coaching team of Sascha Lewandowski and Sami Hyypia, the Werkself were one of the few top teams aside from Bayern who managed to play to their potential in 2012-13.
Schalke got rid of their "manager of the century" Huub Stevens halfway through the season, teetered on the brink of collapse, then pulled themselves together just in time to squeeze into fourth.
SC Freiburg (5th) and Eintracht Frankfurt (6th) were the feelgood stories of the year for those of a non-Bavarian disposition. Coached by the Dr Emmet Brown lookalike Christian Streich, Freiburg proved that smart ideas and hard work can still outsmart bigger and lazier rivals. But theirs was a fairytale with a sad ending: most of the heroes were gobbled up by other predators and a big, bad Wolf(sburg, in the case of Daniel Caligiuri, who is off to the Volkswagen team).
Armin Veh's Eintracht also had an excellent season back in the top-flight and notched up the best result for a newly promoted team since Kaiserslautern won the league in 1998. Their attacking midfielder Alexander Meier, in particular, played like a man possessed.
Below the elegantly soaring Eagles, however, the league resembled a swamp, populated by small fry and big fish who had lost their way. The quality was so poor in mid-table that the monstrosity that was Hamburg – put together with a real connoisseurs' touch by their sporting director Frank Arnesen – could not even bungle into the Europa League. The Danish mastermind of HSV's recruitment policy bit the bullet, as did Wolfsburg's shopaholic Felix Magath and the Werder icon Thomas Schaaf, whose 14-year smileless reign came to an end. The former German-FA-sporting director Robin Dutt will take over next year.
Down at the bottom, things were very messy. Augsburg were the only club to keep their cool. Their manager Markus Weinzierl was left to carry on after going into the winter-break with only nine points; he kept them up. Also still with us next season but only just: TSG Hoffenheim, the billionaire-supported poster boys for the Bundesliga's traditional way of doing things.
They first fired Markus Babbel, and then his successor Marco Kurz and the sporting director Andreas Müller. Coach No3, Markus Gisdol, saved them in the relegation play-off against Kaiserslautern, after Dortmund had somehow managed to lose 2-1 at home to 1899 in the last game of the season. Fortuna Düsseldorf started strongly, then thought they had done enough already and ended up going down.
Their fellow newcomers Greuther Fürth, in their first-ever season in the top flight, could not win a single game at home. They replaced Mike Büskens with Frank Kramer, who had briefly sat on the Hoffenheim bench as well this season, to no avail. Not even their most famous supporter, Henry Kissinger, could wield enough influence to keep them up. The Bilderberg group's powers must be vastly overstated. Or perhaps that's what they would like you think.
Manuel Neuer; Philipp Lahm, Dante, Mats Hummels, David Alaba; Ilkay Gündogan, Bastian Schweinsteiger; Kevin De Bruyne, Franck Ribéry; Robert Lewandowski, Stefan Kiessling
(Second XI: René Adler; Daniel Carvajal, Matthias Ginter, Philipp Wollscheid, Atsuto Uchida; Javi Martínez; André Schürrle, Thomas Müller, Arjen Robben; Marco Reus, Mario Mandzukic)
3 Stefan Kiessling
The Bundesliga's top scorer (25 in 34 matches) made the most of Leverkusen's clever counter-attacking tactics. But Joachim Löw does not like his style. How many times will he score before missing out on the 2014 World Cup next season?
2 Robert Lewandowski
All of Dortmund's best performances came in the Champions League but the Polish striker was on song domestically, too. He scored 24 goals and established himself as one of Europe's most complete centre forwards.
1 Franck Ribéry
Ten goals and 15 assists but above all an uncompromising winner's attitude and impressive defensive workrate. The 30-year-old Frenchman epitomised Bayern's consistency and hunger this season.
Dante. The Brazilian came to Munich for €4.7m (£4m) from Gladbach. Rarely has a centre-back been more influential. The 29-year-old brought a calm elegance to Bayern's back-line, allowed them to press higher and kept everyone happy in the dressing room with his positive attitude.
6 Juan Arango v Frankfurt (unbelievable)
4 Ivica Olic v Freiburg (skill and style)
3 Mame Diouf v Schalke (Bicycle-kick from outside the box? Why not?)
2 Marco Reus v Gladbach (superb technique)
1 Thomas Müller v Hamburg (the sheer cheek of it)
Dortmund's 3-2 win at Bayer Leverkusen was an advert for the league. The battle of the Bender twins (Lars v Sven) truly had everything: missed penalties, converted penalties, a spirited fightback and a masterclass from Robert Lewandowski.
3 "You can't turn a sausage stand into a mega disco in three days" (Norbert Meier pleads for patience)
2 "Up front, it was bananas, and at the back, it was bananas" (Nils Petersen sums up Werder's troubles at both ends)
1 "Of course we adjust to the opponent. But we didn't put on any spacesuits and didn't train in the nude either" (Norbert Meier ahead of a game against Bayern)
Tim Wiese. The former Werder keeper was forever linked with a move to Real Madrid in the summer but then ended up at Hoffenheim, where a succession of managers preferred him sitting in the stands.
Simon Rolfes. The Leverkusen midfielder was dismissed after coming on as sub for a mere 75 seconds against Düsseldorf.
"Only Bayern and Dortmund are better, squad-wise," Hoffenheim coach Markus Babbel at the beginning of the season.
Bild's headline "Van der Vaart: ein Dreier fehlt ihn zum absoluten Glück" (three points are missing for total happiness) ostensibly referred to Rafael van der Vaart's wish for a win against Mainz 05 but came in the context of revelations that he had transferred from his wife Sylvie to Sabia Boulahrouz, the ex-wife of a former team-mate Khalid Boulahrouz. "Dreier" can also be translated as "threesome".
Martin Kind. "Some of our fans are not Bundesliga or Europa League class," said the 68-year-old Hannover president, "they are arseholes."
"It's hard to concentrate when you're 8-0 up" – Bastian Schweinsteiger
Jürgen Klopp wasn't amused when an unknown reporter asked him to reply to his question "without clichés".
"I see you for the first time, and you tell me what to say. Thanks, respect," Klopp shot back, "What's your genre, animal documentaries?"
Thorsten Fink. "The final match day always comes up with its own stories. All of a sudden, frogs jump and finks fly," the HSV coach explained.
Jürgen Klopp. After adopting some of Dortmund's pressing game, Bayern should be known as FC Beijing, felt the Borussia coach: "They do it like the Chinese, they look at what others are doing and then they copy it."
Chelsea's on-loan striker Kevin De Bruyne complained about Germans being "stiff", about a "lack of warmth" at Werder and about the manager Thomas Schaaf not talking to him after the 3-1 defeat at Augsburg. The most shocking, unsettling accusation from him was not even picked up by the German wires, however.
"The training is almost completely tactical," he said, adding that he preferred to run around instinctively. Tactical training? Under Schaaf? Maybe those German lessons that the 21-year-old so casually dismissed – "I don't like it" – might not have been a bad idea. Perhaps then he might have understood what was going on.
"Don't look at me so stupidly," David Alaba playfully admonished Franck Ribéry in a post-match interview, before slapping the Frenchman gently in the face.
"When we get going, things get tough for any opposition. Unfortunately, we rarely get going," said Jürgen Klopp.
"As a Bundesliga manager, you have to ask yourself, do I take this hard, difficult path or do I say 'kiss my ass?'" the VfB Stuttgart coach Bruno Labbadia wondered. "We are not the rubbish bins for everyone else, we are not idiots. It can't go on like that."
"I wanted Eto'o but the president must have heard Edu," said Mike Büskens.
Felix 'Saddam' Magath had his squad running through the Wolfsburg woods. When they finished, they found that most of their water bottles had been emptied on purpose by the coach. Magath tried to justify this exercise in sadism as an "educational measure" afterwards – "I wanted them to learn to share resources as a team," he claimed – but the episode was symptomatic of a course that saw seen him veer dangerously close to a caricature of himself. He was soon out in the woods by himself.
"Everyone has failed here, including the bus driver," said a mightily angry Horst Heldt after Schalke's 2-2 draw at Fortuna Düsseldorf. Said bus driver, the splendidly named Lars Laser, had not done anything wrong, however.
"It's not a good face, it's a difficult face. If one must apologise for their face, I'll do it" – Jürgen Klopp explains he didn't insult the fourth official verbally but might have offended his aesthetic sensibilities by coming too close.
Szabolcs Huszti scored a sensational winner last-minute winner against Werder Bremen, jumped over the advertising board, mounted a fence and took off his shirt in jubilation while the crowd went wild. When the Hannover midfielder returned to the pitch, Deniz Aytekin showed him one yellow card for the fence-climbing and another one for exposing his breasts. Huszti was sent packing, before Ayetkin blew the final whistle.
Franz Josef Wagner knows the score. "A snowflake is like a baby's fart," wrote Bild's reliably bonkers chief columnist.