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How Jupp Heyneckes lifted Bayern Munich out of their early season stupor

ANALYST
Feature
582   //    25 Feb 2018, 22:49 IST

Javi Martinez has brought solidity to the Bayern midfield
Javi Martinez has brought solidity to the Bayern midfield
"I can assure you that I am not going to coach again. I had a worthy farewell," said Jupp Heyneckes back in June 2013.

And quite a worthy farewell it was indeed. Heyneckes had won the Bundesliga title four times as a player with Borussia Monchengladbach and a further three times with Bayern from the touchline – spanning a career that featured 1011 Bundesliga games as player and coach. A record-breaking season on the way to a historic trouble felt like the perfect parting gift.

Yet when the team struggled early on in the 2017-18 campaign, they turned to their beloved former manager. A tepid start to the Bundesliga season had frayed nerves, and a 3-0 mauling at PSG was the final straw. Ancelotti oozes charisma and a sense of calm – but Bayern Munich had become too calm for their own good, and were lulled in an early season stupor.

5 months later, Bayern hold an unassailable 19 point lead at the top of Bundesliga. They have stormed into the DFB Pokal semifinals. Besiktas has been tossed aside in the first leg of CL Round of 16. What exactly has changed?

How has Jupp Heyneckes lifted Bayern Munich out of their early season stupor?

#1 Reinstating Javi Martinez to midfield

Javi Martinez’s partnership with Bastian Schweinsteiger in central midfield was instrumental in Bayern’s successful 2012-13 season. Imposing his physicality on games, Martinez harried the opposition’s creative midfielders and drove his team forward to great effect.

Under Guardiola and Ancelotti, Martinez was pushed back into central defence, both due to tactical reasons and lack of personnel. After Heyneckes’ return, he has reinstated Martinez to his preferred holding midfield position and has shored up their midfield dominance in the process.

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