Apart from their beer, culture and Oktoberfest, football has a soft spot in every German’s heart.
German football may not be popular all around the world, like their Spanish and English counterparts. Still, the sense of passion and enthusiasm among the supporters will drive you nuts. Speaking of German football, we straight head onto the most successful German team, FC Bayern Munich.
Originating from the land of Bavaria, this club has gone head-to-head with other European superpowers like Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Manchester United etc. Bayern’s best achievement in recent years came in the season 2012/13 under the guidance of Jupp Heynckes, who won their maiden treble.
Things got pretty bumpy ever since the eternal success, Heynckes departed after that season and Pep Guardiola came in to fill the void. The Spaniard has revolutionised the Spanish style of play and has brought dominance through it in Europe. Guardiola did experiment with the squad and always tried to get the best out of his players. Some bizarre transfers and repetitive falling out on the hands of Spanish opponents saw him leave the throne.
Bayern appointed Carlo Ancelotti, the Italian was deemed to be the perfect replacement for Pep and for Bayern but fate had other ideas. Despite some controversies, Bayern were again humbled by Real Madrid 6-3 on aggregate in the Champions League quarterfinals.
The Italian had some genuine issues with understanding the style of play and he was repeating the same mistakes. This season, Bayern were drawn in the same group with Paris Saint Germain, the French giants have become a strong force in a very short time with their explosive trident of Neymar, Mbappe and Cavani. It was a stern test for Ancelotti’s Bayern and as expected, the Bavarians were again humiliated with a 3-0 scoreline and Carlo Ancelotti’s reign was soon over.
The conditions seemed vulnerable but there is always light after darkness as Jupp Heynckes came in. The guardian protector came back from retirement to rescue and get the Bavarians back on track. Just with his return, it was looking like a different team altogether. With very little time, the difference was noticeable. Bayern were back in their dominant best in Bundesliga, they also took a sweet revenge against PSG as they defeated the French giants 3-1 at the Allianz Arena.
Bayern are currently sitting top of the table in Bundesliga and having drawn Besiktas for the round of 16, the German giants again look like a team which can replicate the 2012/13 season. The in-depth analysis of the changes implemented by Jupp Heynckes after his return
1. Restructuring the midfield
Bayern do have some world-class midfielders at their disposal, the likes of Thiago, Vidal, James, etc. but still the midfield was an area of concern for the Bavarian. Jupp Heynckes made some changes as he quickly brought Javi Martinez back to midfield. Javi was partnered by Vidal, whose energy was used both during attack and defence.
Javi who can also play as a centre-back has the ability to win back possession and that’s exactly what he does in the midfield. He wins back the ball and starts the buildup from deep in midfield. Something which Xabi Alonso did throughout his career. When required Javi would also draw back in the defense, forming a 3 at the back which has produced results o many occasions, hence he does solidifies the midfield and even helps the defence.
Martinez has been proving his prowess through solid performances
With energitic midfielders like Tolisso and Vidal alongside, Javi can just sit back and pull the strings just like a deep-lying playmaker. It has also allowed James to play a free role in both 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1 formations. Which helps him in laying defence-splitting passes towards Lewandowski who more often than not finds the back of the net.
2. Trust in Youth
Kimmich and Coman are the future of Bayern Munich
One thing that must be appreciated that Jupp Heynckes has trusted in young players like Kingsley Coman, Joshua Kimmich, Niklas Sule, etc. Coman was a mere benchwarmer under Carlo Ancelotti. But with Heynckes’ return, the Frenchman has played more matches and has certainly looked more confident.
His blistering pace and trickery can cause trouble to any defence but he needs a cool head on his shoulders. Trusting in these youngsters will only be beneficial for the club in future and someone like a Coman or Kimmich are valuable assets for the club.
3. Using Thomas Muller in the best way possible
Thomas Muller can be a one-dimensional player, but he is a workhorse and no one can deny that. Ancelotti tends to use him on the flanks and Muller who is not known for his flair was being overpowered by opposition defenders way too many times. With Jupp’s return, Muller has gone back to his normal position of a withdrawn forward, just behind the classic centre-forward Robert Lewandowski.
Muller is a player made for that role, his main attribute is his instincts, he pounces on loose balls and be at the right position at the right time. Yes, with players like James and Thiago in the team, Muller has had to sit on the bench at times but still, the squad rotation was done pretty well by the 72-year-old manager.
4. Defensive solidity
Most of Jupp Heynckes teams are known for its defence. The defence has been more solid now with Javi Martinez acting as a shield in midfield. During Carlo’s reign, the defence were all over the place, the Italian could not organize the backline and teams were finding it pretty easy to break it down as it was vulnerable. Manuel Neuer’s long-term injury was a major setback for the Bavarians, but Heynckes had full trust on Sven Ulreich.
The 29-year old goalkeeper hardly featured for Bayern through the years and it was very obvious because of the presence of Manuel Neuer. But it was a big call for the German goalie to step up in Neuer’s absence and Ulreich till now has answered all the questions thrown at him. Yes. he did stumble in the initial stages, but once the confidence was built there was no looking back. He has developed immensely under Jupp’s guidance. The confidence of the players are now high under Jupp and hopefully they can take it forward this season.
The Backup Goal Keeper has shut his haters in style
5. Bringing in a backup striker for Robert Lewandowski
Bayern through these years lacked a proper replacement for Robert Lewandowski. Thomas Muller was termed as an option but the German does not have the attributes to play as a classic centre-forward. So this problem was not fixed until Heynckes’ return as Bayern roped in Sandro Wagner from Hoffenheim, Wagner has been a Bayern youth academy player in the past and with stern competition in the squad, he left his boyhood club.
With his return, it means Lewandowski can now take rest in some of the less important fixtures and focus on the crucial ones. The Polish forward will be less fatigued now and can concentrate on the crucial fixtures.