Going into 2017/18 on the back of an unprecedented five consecutive Bundesliga title wins, all appeared well on the surface at Bayern Munich.
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Despite goal-king Robert Lewandowski’s best efforts, the shine soon began to fade, however. After a defeat at Hoffenheim was soon followed by a worrying draw at home to Wolfsburg, coach Carlo Ancelotti was let go when Bayern then suffered a UEFA Champions League defeat to Paris Saint-Germain.
Jupp Heynckes downed his gardening tools to answer the emergency call from Säbener Strasse and under the 72-year-old’s charge, the transformation has been startling. Now in his fourth stint at Bayern as a coach, the former treble-winning boss has reversed what was at one stage a five-point deficit to top-of-the-table Borussia Dortmund into an eleven-point lead at the halfway stage – and all without injured captain Manuel Neuer.
Since taking over on Matchday 8, the experienced tactician has overseen 15 wins in 16 games in all competitions – including triumphs against rivals Dortmund and RB Leipzig – with a reverse against Borussia Mönchengladbach the only minor setback.
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Although Bayern stumbled briefly, Lewandowski’s form never faltered and that he leads the Bundesliga scoring charts with 15 goals from 17 games will surprise few. A winner against Cologne on Matchday 16 – his 166th in Germany’s top division – took the prolific Pole into the top 10 list of all-time Bundesliga goalscorers.
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Colombian star James Rodriguez was always likely to take time to settle in Bavaria following his two-year loan switch from Real Madrid. Yet having found his Bundesliga feet quicker than anticipated, the top scorer at the 2014 FIFA World Cup has excelled in a midfield role provided by Heynckes, scoring twice and providing three goal assists to Bayern’s cause. “I think Munich is a beautiful city, the club is great and I would like to stay here for many years, the 26-year-old enthused.
- Bayern have scored in all 16 competitive games under Heynckes this season.
- The defending champions have topped the standings going into the winter break for the past seven seasons.
- Lewandowski has found the net in all eight of Bayern’s home Bundesliga games this term.
Following their impressive turnaround, Bayern are now strong favourites to make it six straight Bundesliga titles, with talk of another treble under Heynckes unlikely to unsettle the Bavarian giants. It’s who will take over from the much-travelled coach come the season’s end that has most observers stumped but with striker Sandro Wagner now added to the mix, the tactician will merely be content to keep the champions ticking over for the time being.
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