Jupp Henyckes’s return made Bayern into slick champions once again
Jupp Henyckes’s return made Bayern into slick champions once again - America News

Jupp Henyckes’s return made Bayern into slick champions once again

  • 4 month ago

For Bayern Munich, Mia san Mia – the Bavarian dialect and the club’s motto, a slogan for their unerring unity – became Mia san Meister, commonplace these days, after they racked up their sixth successive Bundesliga title. The cries of campeones, that could be heard from inside a throbbing away dressing room at the Augsburg Arena and the conga, led by Juan Bernat and Rafinha, that snaked around the pitch, in front of those delirious supporters cherishing another domestic crown, are the fruits of another season that, for a club defined by trophies, is only just starting.

In-house, however, celebrations were purposely low-key. The players embraced, enjoyed a post-match (non-alcoholic) beer, according to Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, or two, but, generally, this was a brief kind of bliss, more so a nod to having scribbled a tick in the box. Yes, they boogied to Billie Jean and Stayin’ Alive and they clearly enjoyed the occasion, cradling a championship shield made of cardboard, without prolonging the party.

FC Bayern München (@FCBayern)

Meisterschaft Nummer 6⃣ in Serie! 🎉🏆 #MiaSanMeister 🔴⚪ pic.twitter.com/DUuz4mv5kJ

April 7, 2018

For Bayern and Jupp Heynckes, the 72-year-old manager who is expected to call it quits – again – in the summer, it is still possible to replicate the incredible treble they managed five years ago. It is no surprise then that Bild billed Heynckes, who has won 19 of 22 league matches this season, as the Vater des Erfolgs – the father of success, and Kicker described him as der Baumeister, the master architect, a man who, to use their analogy, “made a stuttering Ferrari slick again”. If they can sweep aside Sevilla, they will reach the semi-finals of the Champions League on Wednesday, and possibly the DFB-Pokal final the week after. As proved by the pre-cursor to sealing the title, that 6-0 demolition job against Borussia Dortmund, Bayern are, as many feared, champions in their own stratosphere.

Hence why, this week, Uli Hoeness scoffed at the idea of introducing play-offs in a bid to make the division more exciting, less predictable. In some quarters, Bayern’s 28th German championship is regarded as ein Armutszeugnis, a damning indictment of the state of the Bundesliga. As Franck Ribery, who clinched his eighth title on his 35th birthday put it, by winning the league, they have merely achieved only their first objective this season. “The joy was already there,” Thomas Müller said, adamant he and his team-mates are determined to celebrate, “but only in May”. The overarching aim, underwritten by Bayern’s staff and players is to become des Dauerchampions, perennial winners. Ribery and Arjen Robben – at the club for nine and 10 years respectively – are expected to earn new contracts, the chief executive Rummenigge all but confirmed amid the celebrations. “What we have experienced over the past six years is a dream,” Rummenigge, who said he would enjoy a celebratory cigar at home, enthused. “Jupp has done a phenomenal job. And yet the merry-go-round continues, we still want more [trophies] this year.

After an indifferent start to this campaign under Carlo Ancelotti, crushed by Paris-Saint Germain in Europe and trailing Dortmund by five points in the league, Bayern have prospered after a return to the customary-cool manner in which they dispatch teams, even when pegged back, as they were on Saturday afternoon. As Süddeutsche Zeitung painted it, the route here was “first bumpy, but then darn commanding”. But that comical own goal by Niklas Süle was never going to prove a party-pooper, for this Bayern team are scarcely spooked, rarely rattled. Post-match, Rummenigge cited the squad’s confidence – “they are not arrogant”– as well as their professionalism, while there was a classy touch by Heynckes, saluting his predecessor, Ancelotti. “He is not only an outstanding coach but also an outstanding person,” Heynckes said, before Ancelotti returned the niceties.

In six months, Bayern’s tried and tested formula, almost a back-to-basics approach has unequivocally paid off. Previously on their way out, Ribery and Robben, whose current contracts expire in June, have relished the responsibility of being entrusted to do damage going forward, alongside Sandro Wagner, who has five goals in five starts since arriving from Hoffenheim in January. In central midfield, Javi Martinez has flourished defensively and, slightly further forward, Arturo Vidal has too, adding goals to his game. At the back, Heynckes has strengthened the centre-back partnership between Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, re-established as one of the meanest pairings around in recent weeks. In goal, Heynckes has had to rely on the previously derided Sven Ulreich – having been unable to call upon Manuel Neuer, who returned to training this week – and even the 37-year-old, already once retired (does that sound familiar?) Tom Starke.

For the reserves, and those who did not feature in Augsburg, including Robert Lewandowski and Thiago Alcantara, there was a training session at 10am on Sunday and on Monday, the total focus returns to entertaining Sevilla. “We’ll find an opportunity to celebrate later and do it hard,” Heynckes, whose eyes were wet as he stood, soaking up the supporters’ joy at full-time, had said. For Sule, Sebastian Rudy and the again impressive James Rodriguez, this was a maiden title they will never forget.

As the away fans incessantly chanted “Jupp, Jupp, Jupp, Jupp” from the stands in Augsburg at the final whistle, it was even harder to fathom a amusing pre-match anecdote, courtesy of Heynckes himself, who excitedly returned to the top table to speak to journalists after finishing his press conference. “I got into the lift this morning in my hotel, and on the fifth floor an old couple got in with three suitcases,” Heynckes said on Friday, of an encounter with American tourists. “It was quite cramped inside. He was quiet but she was friendly and said ‘good morning’, so I said ‘good morning’ back. I was holding a Bayern Munich bag so she asked ‘oh, are you a Bayern Munich fan?’ I said, ‘yes, sure’.”

Talking points

• There is still life in der Dino yet. Hamburg clinched their first win in 132 days, a 3-2 victory over Schalke thanks to the Hunt-Hammer, as Bild put it, the striker Aaron Hunt six minutes from time. Their hopes of celebrating their 100th birthday in the Bundesliga are almost extinct, but the smallest glimmer of hope remains. “It was important we showed we are still here,” Hunt said.

• With the World Cup on the horizon, Hans-Joachim Watzke’s untimely thoughts on Mario Götze could go one of two ways. “Somehow, he’s missing something,” Watzke, Dortmund’s managing director, said of the Germany midfielder’s form, adding that his move to Bayern hindered his progress.

• Just like his brother, Thorgan Hazard can turn a game on its head. He scored two late goals – his 10th and 11th goals of the season – to keep Borussia Mönchengladbach’s hopes of playing in Europe next season alive.

• Bruno Labbadia is off the mark, he has his first win as Wolfsburg manager. Daniel Didavi scored twice as die Wölfe took a huge step towards safety with a 2-0 win at Freiburg.

Pos Team P GD Pts
1 Bayern Munich 29 55 72
2 Schalke 04 29 12 52
3 Borussia Dortmund 28 15 48
4 RB Leipzig 28 6 46
5 Bayer Leverkusen 28 12 45