Posts Tagged ‘Jupp Heynckes’

Germany’s most successful side take on Europe’s, as Bayern Munich and Real Madrid revive an old rivalry.

Munich have won the Champions League four times – more than any other German side; Madrid have won it nine times – more than any other side in history. Neither, however, have done so in ten years.

Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes is no stranger to this competition, or to Real Madrid: he led Los Blancos to the Champions League title back in 1998. His opposite number, Jose Mourinho, has won this competition twice: firstly, with Porto in 2004, and then with Inter in 2010, when they beat the Bavarians in the final.

Bayern aren’t exactly heading into this game in the best form. On Saturday, they were held to a 0-0 draw with Mainz, in a rather dull encounter. More pertinently, they lost to Dortmund last Wednesday, and also lost any chance they had of winning the title.

By contrast, things are going extremely well for Madrid. On Saturday, they brushed off Sporting Gijon with a fairly routine 3-1 win. Last Wednesday, they stuck four past their city rivals Atletico, and they’re currently four points clear of Barcelona in La Liga.

Having both rested players at the weekend, neither side has any real injury concerns. Bastian Schweinsteiger may not be fully match fit, but such is his importance that he is likely to start.

There are likely to be a few key battles throughout the pitch, not least if Mourinho decides to pit Cristiano Ronaldo against the young Austrian David Alaba, who is in line to start at left back.

Similarly, Bayern’s biggest threats could come from out wide, with Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben – who has a point to prove against the club that sold him – coming up against the solid if unspectacular Alvaro Arbeloa and the attack-minded Marcelo.

Mario Gomez is the second highest scorer in the Champions League this season, with 11 goals (only Lionel Messi has more), while the in-form Karim Benzema may just get the nod over Gonzalo Higuain.

The odds seem to be in the favour of Madrid, something supported by Edson Karimi of Bayern blog Red Robbery. He said: “Real Madrid play the second leg at home, have a deeper squad and can win dirty whereas Bayern need the lead, struggle to play well without the ball and haven’t been in a good form recently.”

His sentiments were echoed by Corey Fiske, of Real Madrid Football Blog, who said: “I am very confident in the match, but I would not go so far as to say we will make the final. Being favorites is fine, but I will not say we will win the tie, only that I like our chances and given Bayern’s loss to Dortmund and draw to Mainz, their loss of the league title yet again has to give Real Madrid a psychological advantage. Then again, if Real were to lose the Clasico sandwiched in between the two legs, the tables could turn. It should be a great tie, and I am looking forward to it.”

Let the games begin…

Prediction: 1-2

 

Make your own prediction, or discuss the potential teams etc, using the comments box…

Kroos: Schweinsteiger’s long-term replacement?

Toni Kroos is, arguably, the reason more hasn’t been made of the absence of Bastian Schweinsteiger.

That’s not to say Bayern don’t miss him – any side would miss a player of his ability; nor is it to say Kroos is a better player – because he isn’t…yet.

But by the looks of things, he’s certainly on his way, and while Schweinsteiger’s injury may not have benefitted Bayern, it has benefitted Kroos.

Kroos was born in the town of Greifswald, and first emerged through the youth team of his local side – Greifswalder SC (now Greifswalder SV 04). Due to the club’s links with Hansa Rostock, it wasn’t long before he made the move there. And it was at Rostock he was spotted by Bayern Munich.

Kroos was snapped up in 2006 – aged just 16 – and moved to Bayern’s youth team. However, such was his potential, he was making his debut by the age of 17.

His ability didn’t go unnoticed by his senior teammates. Miroslav Klose said of him: “When you see in training, the talent he already has at such a young age, he really is a world-class player. These thoughts were echoed by legendary ‘keeper Oliver Kahn, who said: “He’s the best I’ve seen for years at youth level.”

In January 2009 he was sent on loan to Bayer Leverkusen for 18 months, a move that would ultimately be the making of him. He established himself in the Leverkusen side almost immediately, but it was the following season – his first (and only) full one with the side – that he really made an impact.

He featured in 35 games for Leverkusen in the 2009/10 season, scoring nine goals and helping Leverkusen achieve a 4th place finish. Unsurprisingly they wanted to keep him; even less surprising is that Bayern said no.

Heynckes: big impact on Kroos' career

Since then he’s gone from strength to strength, and, especially since Jupp Heynckes – who he played so well under at Leverkusen – took over, he has began to establish himself as a first team regular.

As mentioned, the injury to Schweinsteiger has perhaps benefitted him. He’s since been deployed in a slightly deeper role, and after perhaps initially looking slightly uncomfortable, now appears to be reveling in it.

The same can be said at international level. He’s came along at a time of plenty for German football, especially in terms of attacking midfielders, yet still made the squad for the 2010 World Cup and is almost certain to do so for Euro 2012.

As stated, he isn’t on Schweinsteiger’s level yet. But if he keeps going the way he is, he may not be long before he reaches it, and perhaps even surpasses it.

“Just a few years ago, Kroos was arguably Germany’s biggest talent. He joined Leverkusen on loan and, under Heynckes, played an incredible season. Hopes were high but when he returned to Bayern with coach Louis van Gaal, he struggled. But now that Heynckes is back, Kroos is better than ever. Probably the closest you’ll get to a playmaker in modern football, his passing is world-class. The only thing Kroos lacks is speed, aside from that he’s brilliant. A superstar in the making.” Bayern Munich blog Red Robbery. Twitter: @redrobbery

“Toni Kroos is looking Schweinsteiger-esque, and when you compare the two at age 21, Kroos is a much better player. The question now is whether he can round off his game with a bit more defensive class; if he can, he will be world class.” – Clark Whitney, goal.com German football editor. Twitter: @Mr_Bundesliga