x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Patience and peace crucial for Heynckes and Bayern

Coach 'tranquil' ahead of Champions League final against Chelsea.

Coach Jupp Heynckes looks on during a Bayern training session.
Coach Jupp Heynckes looks on during a Bayern training session.

Munich // Jupp Heynckes flushed a brighter shade of Bayern Munich red at the thought. Did he share the same gut feeling for how a match would turn out as his predecessor Louis van Gaal so enjoyed sharing?

"At my age I'd better not start looking for the places where I get some kind of tingling feeling," grinned the 67 year old. In his third spell as Bayern coach, one home game away from lifting a second Champions League, there is a calmness to Heynckes that is reflected in his players.

Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger amused themselves at suggestions that playing at their own stadium and the acres of German newsprint predicting certain Bayern triumph might prove the club's downfall. "I myself read a lot because I like reading about myself," was Schweinsteiger's response.

Heynckes, once an edgy disciplinarian in a coaching career that spans four decades and nine clubs, has spent a season working to take the tension out of Germany's grandest club. He has removed the dependency on the "aggressive pressing" Schweinsteiger yesterday cited as a factor in their 2010 Champions League final loss to Inter Milan.

"I think in this particular situation for my team, my players and the whole club it is important that I radiate this tranquillity I've been able to project throughout the entire season," Heynckes said. "If you speak to the players they'll tell you that. Before the semi-final against [Real] Madrid I insisted to them that we must be cool and patient in Bernabeu. And that also applies to tomorrow.

"We have two huge clubs with a huge tradition in European football and I think it is my duty with my considerable experience in international football that I provide this peace and tranquillity to the players. It's important the players are patient because we must first and foremost try to keep our goal clean. If we don't concede we have a chance to win."

The last sentence betrays the Achilles heel of a season in which Heynckes reduced Bayern's goals against to 22, increased their Bundesliga points total, yet still finished second to an inspired Borussia Dortmund.

Last week's German Cup final was turned over to the champions after the concession of an early goal, and only once this season have Bayern recovered a deficit to win.

Like Chelsea, Bayern are best on the counterattack. The power forward play of Didier Drogba is one threat ("He can score at any moment," said Heynckes. "And sometimes he's an outstanding actor on the pitch"). The coolness the German observes in his opposite number is another.

"I'm not surprised by Roberto Di Matteo's performance," he said. "If you look at his life, his career in sports, if you have seen him on the pitch as a player you know he is a very intelligent, cool and controlled person. In the difficult situation Chelsea were in they needed this kind of man, a man who would restructure the team and make it more compact."

In 1998, Heynckes was dismissed by Real a few days after winning the European Cup.

He advises Roman Abramovich not to dispense with Di Matteo whatever today's result: "Chelsea is a huge club and if you have the most important position in the club you will try to find the best possible coach, someone who has already won something, brought titles, who has all the attributes that you seek in this kind of job. But he makes an excellent impression on me, and if I was Abramovich I would continue with this young man."

sports@thenational.ae