When it comes to winning the treble, Jupp Heynckes is the only man to talk to in German football. Having masterminded Bayern Munich’s unprecedented haul of Bundesliga, DFB Cup and UEFA Champions League in 2013, the 72-year-old has revealed five key points that could help the record champions repeat their historic feat in 2018.
Speaking to German publication Sport Bild, Heynckes made it clear he believes Bayern still have some work to do if they want to regain European football’s highest honour for the first time in five years. “Being honest, we still have to improve,” said the veteran tactician.
Watch: Comparing goal machines Jupp Heynckes and Robert Lewandowski
Elaborating on his plan for success, the 72-year-old laid out five key areas in which there can be no margin for error, if the club want to achieve that goal of European glory.
1) Health and physical condition
For the Mönchengladbach native, the most important element in potential success, and especially in the Champions League, is having a full squad available to him. “Our players have to remain healthy and in the best physical condition,” Heynckes said.
However, the Bundesliga champions have suffered a blow in recent weeks with the news that Kingsley Coman has undergone surgery on an ankle injury, which will keep him sidelined for several months. Furthermore, four-time World’s Best Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has been out of action since September and is not due back until late in the season, and Thiago Alcantara has also only recently returned from a long-term injury lay-off.
2) Giving more than your all
The Bayern boss stresses that giving your all and being at 100 per cent at all times is not always enough in the Champions League. According to Heynckes, you need “to give that extra percent” to win the coveted trophy.
Since the 72-year-old returned to the Allianz Arena hot seat, Bayern have been at their consistent best, winning all but two of their 25 competitive matches. From five Champions League games, Bayern have a clean sweep of five victories, including a 3-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain and a commanding 5-0 triumph over Besiktas in the first leg of their Round of 16 tie. Seven different players have scored for the Bavarians in those games: Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Müller, Coman, Joshua Kimmich, Javi Martinez and Corentin Tolisso. Bayern are firing on all cylinders right now.
3) More motivation
For a man who has won everything there is to win in football, Heynckes recognises that there is a difference between wanting something and really wanting it, and that burning desire to win the Champions League has to be shared by the entire team. According to Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal, “We talk about that in the changing room and we’re all in agreement that we want to win everything this season.”
Easier said than done, as Bayern have discovered in recent years. Since lifting the Champions League trophy after victory over Borussia Dortmund at Wembley in 2013, the Bavarians have fallen at the semi-final stages three times in the quarter-finals once, to eventual winners Real Madrid last season. For Heynckes, it’s clear what’s needed: “The players have to be more motivated and show more passion.” Walking the walk, and not just talking the talk.
It’s a key word in Heynckes’ vocabulary. The team is more important than any individual. The club’s motto of ‘Mia San Mia’ – we are who we are – should resonate with every player both on and off the pitch.
“Every player has to be there for each other,” as Heynckes said. For him, this means taking your chance when picked and fighting to support your teammates. That sentiment is needed more than ever in the Champions League, even in the coming second leg at Besiktas. Despite holding such a commanding lead over the Turkish champions, Bayern can expect a hostile atmosphere in Istanbul.
As a coach who has lifted the Champions League twice before, Heynckes knows what it takes to do so. Bayern are united as a club under their coach, and everyone is pulling in the same direction at all levels. “We all have to engage with the idea. A positive atmosphere has to reign around the club from the top to the bottom,” Heynckes asserted.
But the positivity doesn’t just end there. The Bayern coach remains confident that Neuer will be back in time for the latter stages of the competition, although he admits his presence may not necessarily be needed for success in the tournament.
“Sven Ulreich has been a more than able deputy this season, winning the respect and appreciation of everyone at the club,” Heynckes said. “Of course we’d like if Manuel could play by April, and I want him to be fit enough to go to the World Cup in Russia also.”