The Star Early Edition
Bayern send an emphatic message
DORTMUND: Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes started a short holiday with his wife and pets yesterday, but not without a warning to the rest of the Bundesliga.
“We’ll play better and I hope successful football when our injured players return,” the 72-year-old said.
The statement came after Bayern clinically beat big rivals Borussia Dortmund 3-1 to make it seven wins in seven games in all competitions since Heynckes took charge again on October 9 in succession of Carlo Ancelotti.
Bayern trailed then leaders Dortmund by five points at the time, and are now six ahead of them. Their Bundesliga lead going into the international break is four points over last season’s runners-up RB Leipzig.
Fears are mounting that Bayern will dominate in the same way as in Heynckes’ previously last season 2012-13 when they won the Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League title treble.
“It wouldn’t be a problem in our eyes if the race for the championship title were boring,” defender Mats Hummels said.
However, as Heynckes pointed out, Bayern will be even stronger once all injured players have returned for the second half of the season: Thomas Mueller, Franck Ribery, Manuel Neuer and Jerome Boateng.
“And now, the big boredom,” the Sueddeutsche Zeitung headline read yesterday in reference to the title race, and the Bild paper said on its website “No title is safe from Bayern.”
Dutch winger Arjen Robben swiftly dismissed any talk about another treble but Bayern have been impressive since Heynckes’ arrival.
Apart from the Dortmund game they also prevailed over Leipzig twice in the league and cup, and two victories over Celtic assured them of a last-16 berth in the Champions League with two games to spare.
All these victories came although Heynckes imposed a strict training regime after Ancelotti allegedly was too soft in this area.
“We haven’t only played a lot of matches but also trained a lot and very intensively. That put a big strain on the players. And that’s why many lately complained about muscle aches,” Heynckes said.
“It’s amazing how Heynckes has done it in such a short time,” Robben said of the turnaround after Bayern had gone winless in three Bundesliga games and a 3-0 loss at Paris Saint-Germain then put an end to Ancelotti’s term.
Robben, who also scored Bayern’s 89th-minute winner over Dortmund in the 2013 Champions League final and many other key goals in their duels, opened the scoring this time around to become Bayern’s best foreign scorer with 93 goals.
Robert Lewandowski and David Alaba scored as well for Bayern while stuttering Dortmund wasted several chances before getting a late consolation goal from Marc Bartra.
“We turned in an outstanding display against a very good team today, especially in the first half. You have to admit Dortmund had very good chances, but Sven Ulreich kept us in the game. The team were 100 per cent motivated, we absolutely wanted to win,” Heynckes said.