Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes the mastermind of revenge over Real Madrid

Kit Holden
Jupp Heynckes 300x225 Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes the mastermind of revenge over Real Madrid

Jupp Heynckes sees his side beat Real Madrid 2-1 in the Champions League semi-final first leg

Jupp Heynckes has had his fair share of unfair dismissals. His first spell at FC Bayern ended with dismissal for failing to win consecutive titles. Just under a decade later, Heynckes took Real Madrid to their first European Cup success in 32 years and was rewarded, once again, with the sack.

The first of those injustices was later atoned for: a rare public apology from Uli Hoeneß, and two more spells as Bayern coach have successfully expelled the demons of Munich in 1991. Heynckes’ relationship with Real Madrid is quite different. The quintessential victim of the Spanish club’s vicious politics, Heynckes might have allowed himself a moment to enjoy the sweet taste of revenge at the final whistle on Tuesday night.

He wouldn’t have shown it, of course. A gentleman to the last, Heynckes’ ostensible respect for his former club and their latest controversial coach has been impeccable in the build up to this semi-final tie. But with a slender advantage heading into the second leg, the chance to pip his former club to the Champions League Final must seem like the perfect climax to an imperfect season for the Bayern coach.

Having lost the title with two disappointing results against Dortmund and Mainz, Bayern’s season could well have imploded in front of their very eyes at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday night. Their dream of playing a European Cup Final in their own stadium looked in serious danger, as the team who could not scrape a home victory against Mainz 05 came up against an opponent who have only been beaten by two different teams in the current season.

But if Bayern’s domestic dominance is currently at its lowest ebb for two decades, their power in Europe has sky rocketed in the last few years, and their victory over Real Madrid was a testament to how far they have come.

Even the tactical mastery of Mourinho, which has slain greater opponents than this Bayern side, was unable to muscle its way into pole position last night. Real’s formidable front line was, for the best part of the evening, thwarted by what is essentially a patchwork defence. Heynckes’ decision to  transfer Austrian midfielder David Alaba to left back in recent weeks has proven inspired, with the 19-year-old coping just as well with Angel Di Maria as he had with any Bundesliga winger.

The coach’s decision to move Toni Kroos from defensive midfield to fill the gap left by Thomas Müller in attack was equally impressive. The German midfielder who, no more than a year ago, was struggling to usurp Sami Khedira for a place in the national side, decidedly outshone the Real Madrid player on the rare occasion of being pitted against him.

Throw in the ubiquitous, irritating presence of Franck Ribéry, the solidity of Manuel Neuer and a well positioned Mario Gómez, and you have a Bayern side who, even in as delicately poised a game as this, were excellent value for their 2-1 first leg advantage.

There are, no doubt, still some issues to address. Should the away goal prove crucial, Bayern’s defence may live to rue their lemming-like behaviour in the build up to Mesut Özil’s tap-in, and, had Cristiano Ronaldo and his free kicks had a better night of it, Jerome Boateng’s clumsiness in and around the box could have left his team with a few more away goals to be concerned about.

In general, though, this was a triumph for the old gentleman of European football management, and his young team of pretenders. Real Madrid may well progress in the second leg; Jupp Heynckes may not have created a truly legendary Bayern outfit over the past 12 months. But he has sent out a message nonetheless. A message to the two behemoths of Spain, that their superiority over the rest of Europe is, after all, not quite so absolute.

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