AP Photo/Matthias Schrader

Bayern Munich fans pay tribute to Jupp Heynckes, again

Leave a comment

MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich fans turned up in their thousands to bid farewell to Jupp Heynckes for a second time on Sunday.

The veteran coach is going back into retirement after leading Bayern to another league title. The side was five points adrift when he returned in October, but rebounded to wrap up the title with five rounds to spare.

[ MORE: Pellegrini to WHU inches closer ]

It might have been more for Heynckes, but Eintracht Frankfurt stunned the side to win the German Cup final on Saturday and Real Madrid emerged triumphant from the sides’ Champions League semifinal.

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge paid tribute to the 73-year-old Heynckes for bringing “old values” such as “humanity and empathy” back to the side.

“The little downside for us is that we would have liked to give our Jupp, our coach, the nearly perfect finish, but it didn’t quite work out,” Rummenigge said of the shock defeat to Frankfurt.

Heynckes led Bayern to the Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup titles in his previous stint in 2013, before he retired for the first time.

Bayern’s players were clearly still disappointed over Saturday’s cup defeat as they celebrated the league win on the Munich town hall balcony.

“It feels really bad, how the season ended,” said Thomas Mueller, who added that the team would try to “put a brave face on it.”

Report: Lewandowski unhappy with playing time at Bayern Munich

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Karl-Heinz Rummenidge may have done his best to quell rumors that Robert Lewandowski could leave Bayern Munich this summer, but the player’s camp may not be ready to give in.

According to a report by ESPNFC, a source close to Lewandowski said the Polish striker is unhappy about the playing time he has received this season.

Lewandowski, who will be 30 around the start of next season, scored a whopping 29 league goals this season as Bayern stormed to yet another monstrous Bundesliga title, but he saw spotty playing time down the stretch.

“Robert’s rhythm was clearly broken,” the ESPN source said. “He played almost every game over the past few years [and] even played with a shoulder injury at Real last year and he scored. He played with a face mask against Barcelona in 2015. He does not have this rhythm in 2018.”

Looking at the numbers, it’s a bit of a dubious complaint. Sure, he was rested for a good portion of the latter stages of the league season – since the turn to the 2018 calendar year, Lewandowski put up just five league 90-minute performances, scoring in four of those, including a pair of hat-tricks – however Bayern cruised to the Bundesliga finish line to win the league by 24 points and manager Jupp Heynckes will have wanted to rest his star striker for a deep Champions League run. Supporting that, Lewandowski played 505 of a possible 540 Champions League minutes in 2018. He also played every minute of their DFB-Pokal crown, grabbing a brace in the win over Bayer Leverkusen in the finals.

“He never told me that he felt he hadn’t played enough,” Heynckes told reporters on Friday to rebuff the reports. “I have repeatedly heard that we had an extremely stressful and intensive fixture list, therefore I gave him regular breaks with the big games in mind. For example, if he didn’t play a game in eight days, that’s a normal rhythm and he wouldn’t lose any playing rhythm.”

Despite his stunning league form, Lewandowski received criticism this season for his Champions League output. While he scored three goals in league play and another pair in a 5-0 win over Besiktas to start the knockout round, he was blanked after that, putting up five straight goose eggs as Bayern was booted in the semifinals by Real Madrid. Through his Bayern career, Lewandowski now has 11 goals in 21 Champions League knockout matches, but he has mostly failed to deliver when the team needs him the most.

Lewandowski’s contract with Bayern Munich runs through the summer of 2021, so any move would either have to be initiated by the club or forced by the player.

‘Greedy’ Bayern aims for win in Madrid

AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson
Leave a comment

Real Madrid doesn’t need much to qualify for another UEFA Champions League final.

A draw will do the trick. Heck, even a 1-0 loss gets the job done. Provided Real doesn’t lose by two or post a one-goal win a goal fest, Madrid will have a chance to taste the European Cup’s first three-peat since 1976.

[ RECAP: Spurs 2-0 Watford ]

That’s a standard held by Tuesday’s visitors, Bayern Munich, themselves authors of five titles and 10 final appearances.

Real, of course, has won a record 13 crowns, including the first five when the tournament boasted just the first place teams from Europe.

Real manager Zinedine Zidane doesn’t have to be secretive about the game plan.

“The key for us it to go out to win the game. No need to take chances, to play on the back foot, nor to do anything strange. We’ve got to go out and get an early goal. It’s a semifinal and we know the importance of the game. We know what we have to do.”

As for Bayern Munich, striker Thomas Muller says they need to be “greedy.” Manager Jupp Heynckes says it’ll be about guts and heart.

“Desire can move mountains in football,” Heynckes said. “We’ll be very awkward opponents. My team can surpass themselves in matches like this one.”

Kickoff from the Bernabeu is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. ET.

UCL Preview: Will CR7 continue to haunt Bayern Munich?

Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Bayern Munich hopes home field can be the key to its first win over Real Madrid in six tries.

The German powers have lost five-straight UEFA Champions League encounters against Real heading into Wednesday’s semifinal first leg at the Allianz Arena (2:45 p.m. ET kickoff).

[ MORE: LFC 2-1 Roma | Klopp reacts ]

Real knocked Bayern out of the 2013-14 and 2016-17 UCL, with Bayern eliminated Real in penalty kicks during the semifinal round of 2011-12.

All told, this is the 12th time Real and Bayern have met on the road to the European Cup.

It was the quarterfinal stage last season that saw Cristiano Ronaldo score five times over two legs including both goals in a 2-1 first leg win in Germany. He also scored twice against the Bavarians in 2013-14, and twice in 2011-12 (though he missed the first penalty of the semifinal shootout).

Real’s German midfielder, Toni Kroos, is quite wary of the superpowers from his home nation:

“I’ve been playing alongside a lot of Bayern players for many years now in the national team, but if you look at Bayern’s possible line-up, you can see that they have a lot of very good players. They’re in better shape than they were last year and we’ve got to go out and play our game.”

Real boss Zinedine Zidane knows there’s a juicy subplot with James Rodriguez on loan at Bayern and very much enjoying his football, but says it’s media-driven and nothing on the mind of Zizou or James.

“I didn’t want James to go, he decided to go. I never had any problem with James and it’s more about what is said in the press,” Zidane said, according to Goal.com. “I think he will be motivated because he is a football player. He doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone. Anyone that thinks I am against James is wrong. He will want to go out and prove himself but because he likes football and that’s it.”

Rodriguez has six goals and 12 assists across 34 appearances for Bayern this season, though just one assist has come in the UCL.

Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes says James’ exit from Real might’ve been desired but it wasn’t easy for the player.

“He was a little depressed,” Heynckes said. “I took care of him, I had lots of talks with him, and step by step he found confidence. He is more relaxed within the team. Our fans here, when they see him play football, they enjoy it. Above all he is a player who has fantasy, has an overview. He is more open-minded and gives the impression he feels well and has settled in Munich.”

Bayern wins sixth straight Bundesliga crown – with help from Heynckes

AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
Leave a comment

BERLIN (AP) Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes has earned his retirement at the end of the season.

Again.

After returning to the helm in October, Heynckes’ Bayern won its record-extending sixth straight Bundesliga title on Saturday with a 4-1 win at Augsburg.

No other team has come close since Bayern claimed the treble in 2013 under Heynckes, who has said he will go back into retirement at the end of this season – despite Bayern’s attempts to keep him on.

Bayern sealed its record 28th German championship, including the solitary pre-Bundesliga title in 1931-32, with five rounds to spare.

Here’s a look at why Bayern keeps winning in Germany:

HERO HEYNCKES

Bayern’s lackluster start to the season is all but forgotten due to the rapid turnaround instigated by Jupp Heynckes on his return for his fourth stint as coach in October.

Bayern was five points behind Borussia Dortmund after slipping to two draws and a defeat in its opening seven league games, but Heynckes started with a 5-0 win over Freiburg, led the side back to the top and claimed the title with 18 wins in 21 games, including the victory in Augsburg.

A perfect record in the German Cup – four wins from four – and Champions League – seven from seven – sees Bayern well placed in both competitions for a possible repeat of the treble achieved in Heynckes’ previous stint in 2013.

The only issue Bayern has with Heynckes is that he won’t continue. The 72-year-old former striker has long maintained that he will go back into retirement once the season is done.

Bayern coach Heynckes and Franck Ribery (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

TACTICS

Jupp Heynckes reverted to the 4-2-3-1 system he favored in the treble-winning season for most games this time round, but he has also shown willingness to tinker with the system depending on the opponents.

He also coaxed a better work-rate from his players, starting with league top-scorer Robert Lewandowski, who pressurizes defenders for the ball and helps to win back possession.

Heynckes returned to the wide areas as key facets of the side’s attack. Franck Ribery, despite celebrating his 35th birthday against Augsburg, has enjoyed a renaissance on the left wing. Kingsley Coman (before his injury) and Arjen Robben have also excelled, helped by overlapping pace from David Alaba and Joshua Kimmich.

IMPROVEMENT

Arturo Vidal was criticized by Jupp Heynckes shortly after returning, saying the combative midfielder wasn’t working hard enough and that others were ahead of him in the pecking order.

But the Chile midfielder, familiar to Heynckes from their days together at Bayer Leverkusen, responded as Heynckes undoubtedly knew he would and has since emerged as one of the team’s key players in fighting for midfield possession. Vidal has also chipped in six goals.

James Rodriguez is another player to have blossomed under Heynckes, returning to the form that prompted Real Madrid to pay a reported 80 million euros for his services in 2014. Madrid could yet regret letting him go.

MONEY

Bayern is by far the richest club in Germany thanks to lucrative sponsorship deals, TV money, ticket sales and other sources of revenue. Last season the club posted a record turnover of 640.5 million euros ($759 million) with profits up 22.2 percent on the season before.

Borussia Dortmund, the next nearest challenger, lags well behind with turnover of 405.7 million euros for 2016-17.

Bayern’s financial clout means it can afford to turn down mega-money advances for its best players. Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge recently ruled out Robert Lewandowski moving to Real Madrid. Bayern can also cherry-pick the best of what the rest of the Bundesliga has to offer.

Schalke’s Leon Goretzka is joining for free next season.

COMPETITION

Bayern had no challengers for the title after Borussia Dortmund’s early promise collapsed. Schalke, the best of the rest, is clearly not at the same level, despite its improvement under new coach Domenico Tedesco. Bayern has scored almost twice as many goals.

Faced with the added strain of European football, last year’s runner-up Leipzig was unable to mount a challenge.

Dortmund faces another summer of rebuilding, while Bayer Leverkusen has been too inconsistent to mount a challenge under new coach Heiko Herrlich.

“It looks like we’ll also be German champions next year,” Heynckes said last month.