Robben pays the penalty for missed chances

Arjen Robben’s virtuoso performance for Bayern Munich against Barcelona in the Champions League could be his last for the Bavarians at the Allianz Arena.

The Dutchman doesn’t fit into the plans of incoming coach Pep Guardiola and is set to end a four-year stint in Munich that began with trophies but will be remembered for on-pitch fights with teammates, injuries and missed penalties that cost the club dear.

The 29-year old’s fine individual effort in the 4-0 first leg semi-final win against Barcelona showed just what the talented Robben is still capable of.

A brilliant dribbler, Robben is blessed with a near unparalleled first touch – and ego.

But the chances of Robben still being at Bayern Munich in September are as great as the Dutchman offering one of his teammates the chance to take a penalty in a big match.

‘‘I have a contract until 2015 but I wouldn’t close the door on anything,’’ Robben said recently. Galatasaray, Inter Milan and Tottenham have been touted as possible destinations.

The emergence of Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos has marginalised Robben, who is only back in the first team because of the latter’s injury.

Happier times: Robben and Ribery for Bayern

Happier times: Robben and Ribery for Bayern


Next season, Kroos is back. Bayern have already agreed to buy Germany’s outstanding young talent Mario Götze for €37 million. And Guardiola is known to be a fan of summer buy Xherdan Shaqiri.
Yet it all stated so well. Following a €25 million transfer from Real Madrid in 2009, the club’s new No.10 made his debut as a substitute against Wolfsburg on a bright August evening, banging in two smart goals in a 3-0 victory.
And what a first season it was in Bavaria: under fellow Dutchman Louis van Gaal, the free-scoring Robben led Bayern to the German league and cup double, netting 16 goals in 24 league matches, and was crowned 2009-10 Bundesliga player of the season.

Robben seemed a class apart in the Bundesliga: time after time, he would cut in from the right, skin a bemused defender or two before firing home with his left foot.
At that stage in his career, Robben seemed to be a lucky charm. This was the man who had won the Dutch Eredivisie with PSV in 2003, the Premier League with Chelsea in 2005 and 2006 and La Liga with Real Madrid in 2008.
Holding championship trophies aloft seemed to come easy: has any other footballer won five league titles, in four different countries, in the space of eight seasons?

There was plenty of cup success too, with Robben winning the FA Cup once and League Cup twice under Jose Mourinho in England.

Bayern: Robben on the losing side

Bayern: Robben on the losing side

In 2010, Robben converted a penalty as Bayern routed Werder Bremen 4-0 in the German Cup final. But that spot kick seemed to mark the turning point in his career: from being a winner, Robben turned into football’s nearly man.
First, there was the 2010 Champions League final against Inter Milan back on his former turf at the Bernabeau, where Robben cut a jaded figure in a 2-0 defeat. His stunning quarterfinal goal that knocked out Manchester United that season was quickly forgotten.
Worse was to come months later at the World Cup final in Johannesburg. Legendary status beckoned when Robben was one-on-one against Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas in the second half, but the Bayern winger spurned the chance and ever since has been blamed by his countrymen for wasting the Netherlands’ best ever chance of winning a World Cup.
The next season Bayern missed out on the Bundesliga title and last season some wondered if Robben was becoming a liability.

During a match in Bremen, a frustrated Robben punched Muller after a counterattack broke down. Robben has never been one to endear himself to teammates and his explanation of the Bremen incident hardly helped : ‘‘I shouldn’t have acted like that on the pitch, I should have done it in the dressing room.’’
As Muller’s stock has risen, so has Robben’s embarrassment over the affair. Last season another Champions League final was lost, with Robben missing an extra time penalty that would surely have won the final in Munich against Chelsea.

Earlier that month, Robben did score a penalty but was on the losing side as Borussia Dortmund crushed Bayern 5-2 in the German cup final. Weeks earlier, Robben had missed a critical penalty at Dortmund in a Bundesliga six-pointer that was won by Jurgen Klopp’s men.
It can’t be forgotten that Robben has been badly hampered by injuries since his 2010 high point.

But Bayern knew they were taking a risk on the player when he arrived.
Most Bundesliga players are formally placed on an injury list after one month on the sidelines, after which they are paid the princely sum of €183 a day in lieu of their megabucks wages. The Dutchmen’s advisers insisted on what is known as the ‘‘Robben Clause’’ which stipulates that the player receives full pay for three months when injured.
That proved to be a master stroke for Robben, who has been restricted to 76 Bundesliga appearances over four seasons (albeit with an outstanding strike rate of 44 goals).

Even when he is playing, Robben has few ties to the dressing room. When Bayern celebrated clinching the title on the pitch at Eintracht Frankfurt, Robben was nowhere to be seen. German TV has even observed that his wife Bernadien never sits among the other Bayern WAGs in the VIP box at the Allianz Arena. Robben was rested for Bayern’s home match at the weekend, signalling a likely start for Wednesday’s second leg at the Nou Camp. A Champions League final beckons: what a rich irony it would be if Robben ends his Bayern career with another penalty kick.

Andreas Evagora
Deputy Head Eurosport2
Eurosport2 has live Bundesliga action on Friday with Hertha v Aue (18:00) in the second division, before Mönchengladbach v Schalke (20:30). Then on Saturday don’t miss Nuremberg v Leverkusen (15:30) and Dortmund v Bayern (18:30). On Sunday there’s Freiburg v Augsburg and Hamburg v Wolfsburg. Coverage in North and East Europe.

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Champions League triumph caps Bayern’s memorable day

In the space of 24 hours Uli Hoeness was involved in a tax avoidance scandal, the transfer coup of the season and a mauling of Barcelona in the Champions League semis. All in a day’s work for the Bayern Munich president, surely the most colourful football official in Europe.

Hoeness isn’t the first German multimillionaire to open a Swiss bank account but when he turned himself in on Monday there was genuine surprise and anger, in and outside football.

That’s because Hoeness is much more than the president of Germany’s biggest club: ‘‘Mr. Bayern’’ has become the go-to man for journalists looking for honest, but juicy, comments on matters of economics and finance.
He is hailed as the financial wizard who learnt to balance the books of his parents’ grocery as a boy in Ulm, before turning around Bayern’s economic woes in the 1980s.

As the earnest German magazine Der Spiegel put it, Hoeness has ‘‘gained a reputation as a voice of reason on political issues and even as something of a moral authority, attacking corruption and tax evasion.’’
The investigation into his tax affairs reached the highest levels of German politics, with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman saying: ‘‘Many people in Germany are now disappointed in Uli Hoeness. The Chancellor is among these people.’’

Bundesliga: Gôtze heading to Bayern

Bundesliga: Gôtze heading to Bayern

But while Germany went to bed on Monday reading headlines cursing Hoeness, it woke up to a transfer sensation: Borussia Dortmund wunderkind Mario Götze was heading to Bayern at the end of the season.
Whether these two events were linked, only Hoeness knows, but the timing of the announcement, a day before Dortmund hosted Real Madrid in the other Champions League semi-final, led many to cry foul play.
There were cries of anguish that Bayern’s use of their considerable cheque book would kill off competition, and make the Bundesliga a one-horse race.

HoenessOnly weeks before, Hoeness had predicted the Bundesliga would turn into a Spanish-style duopoly, with Bayern and Borussia overpowering domestic rivals in the way the pairs’ semi-final rivals do in Spain.

Tellingly, Dortmund coach Jorgen Klopp replied by telling an 18 April news conference that a Scottish-style monopoly, with Bayern in control, was far more likely. What Klopp knew then (and we know now) is that Götze had already told Dortmund he wanted to quit the club.

So having pulled off the managerial coup of the season by persuading Pep Guardiola to come to Munich, Hoeness has done the same with arguably Germany’s finest young talent.

So is this the end of competition in the Bundesliga?

Probably not, and Götze’s €37 million switch is not necessarily a bad thing for ‘‘Bundesliga Inc.’’The 20 year old’s release clause was significant but not mind boggling (it was less than Bayern paid for Javi Martinez) and suggests that the player fancied a transfer well before the end of his contract. Had Götze not moved back to Bavaria, where he grew up, he would surely have ended up in Spain or England: that would have been the Bundesliga’s loss.

Indeed, had Bayern Munich splashed the cash on another player, their fee would probably have gone to a foreign club and not stayed in Germany. With Bayern’s cash, Dortmund have a substantial sum to boost their squad.
Klopp has proved savvy in the transfer market in the past, with four-goal hero Robert Lewandowski a snip at €4 million.

Poaching the best of the rest in Germany is nothing new for Hoeness (Manuel Neuer from Schalke, Mario Gomez from Stuttgart, Miroslav Klose from Bremen and Lukas Podolski from Cologne are four examples in recent years).
The result has been domination, but only on a par with big clubs in other countries. As things stand, Barcelona have won the last five Ligas, Inter Milan the last five Serie A crowns and Manchester United the last five Premier League titles. How many times have Bayern been German champions in the last decade? You guessed it, five.
Perhaps this is some kind of law of nature in European football: the best teams win the league one season in two.
In any case there is too much focus on Dortmund. Schalke 04 and Hamburg have the tradition and potential to challenge for the title: that they have made too many mistakes on and off the pitch is not Bayern’s problem. How Hamburg must be ruing their decision not to hire Klopp before he went to Dortmund (legend has it that HSV’s punctilious board objected to Klopp turning up to his interview without a tie).
Hoeness’ unwelcome tax probe may have been unrelated to the Götze transfer but Bayern Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge saw a connection to the team’s 4-0 humiliation of Barcelona on Tuesday.

‘‘The Hoeness affair gave us even more motivation against Barcelona because Bayern is a family,’’ Rummenigge said.
Bayern came into the match with 19 wins in 20 matches in all competitions (Arsenal do have something to show for after all this season) and their last two Bundesliga matches read more like tennis scores than football results: Bayern beat Wolfsburg and Hannover (who were previously unbeaten at home in 2013) 6-1, 6-1.

Those performances were a mere warm up for Tuesday. Barcelona were perhaps preparing for the usual slow, slow, quick, quick, slow of Champions League semi-finals, but were blown away by the intensity and power of Bayern’s play from first minute to last. (Dortmund and Bayern, incidentally, both showed that possession statistics are among the most useless in football: Bayern had just 37 percent of the ball in their semi-final, Dortmund 44 percent).
Bayern: Robben scores against Barcelona Bayern: Robben scores against Barcelona
All this, remember, without top scorer Mario Mandzukic, and two players who were automatic first team choices before long-term injuries, Toni Kroos and Holger Badstuber.

So the week started with the most powerful man in German football being investigated for tax evasion, but by Tuesday night his Bayern team were the toast of football for signing Götze and humiliating Lionel Messi and Co.
Hoeness is now hoping those three incident will be overshadowed by three trophies at the end of the season. The Bundesliga title has already been won. Strugglers Stuttgart await in the German Cup final. A Champions League victory in London would round off an unforgettable season.

Andreas Evagora
Deputy Head, Eurosport2

Eurosport2 has live Bundesliga action on Friday with Ingolstadt v Braunschweig (18:00) in the second division, before Fürth v Hannover (20:30). Then on Saturday don’t miss Bayern v Freiburg (15:30) and Dusseldorf v Dortmund (18:30). On Sunday there’s Mainz v Frankfurt and Schalke v Hamburg. Coverage in North and East Europe.

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Odd couple in fight for survival

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Odd couple in fight for survival

Bundesliga: Ji-Force boosts Augsburg

Bundesliga: Ji-Force boosts Augsburg


Augsburg and Hoffenheim are like chalk and cheese but the clubs have a fight for survival in common as the Bundesliga season draws to a close.
At the winter break, the teams looked doomed to visiting the likes of Ingolstadt and Erzgebirge Aue in the second division next season: Hoffenheim had a mere 12 points from 17 matches, Augsburg 9.
But in their own ways, they have scraped together enough points to have a fighting chance of avoiding the dreaded drop.
The Bavarians of Augsburg, currently 16th, are the archetypal hard-up strugglers. The club nearly went bust a decade ago and only returned to professional football in 2006, yet played in the top flight for the first time last season.
Money is tight and 12 goals from their first 17 games told a tale of struggling journeymen, misplaced passes and backs-to-the-wall defending. Augsburg’s nickname, The Fuggers, is not an insult, but a reference to an industrial family that long controlled the city.
Think Wigan Athletic, without the charm.
But plucky Augsburg have been magnificent in 2013 –only four Bundesliga teams have won more points.
Meanwhile, one place behind are Hoffenheim. Bankrolled by billionaire software mogul Dietmar Hopp, they are Germany’s nouveaux riches. As one of only two Bundesliga clubs not owned by the fans (the other, Bayer Leverkusen can be forgiven because of their historic links with the club’s owners), Hoff are largely unloved by German fans.
While Hoffenheim, and fellow strugglers Greuther Furth and Wolfsburg chopped and changed coaches, Augsburg’s decision to stay loyal to 38-year-old Markus Weinzierl proved a masterstroke.
Weinzierl, who took over from Jos Luhukay last summer, got his tactics spot on in Sunday’s 2-0 win against Champions League chasing Eintracht Frankfurt.
Playing an attack-minded 4-1-4-1 formation, Augsburg dominated from first whistle to last.
Ji Dong-Won, on loan from Sunderland, scored two terrific goals, and had a third inexplicably ruled out in between. The South Korean has been astute signing, starting all 12 games in 2013. Now armed with ‘‘Ji- force,’’ Augsburg are starting to believe in a survival miracle. Paolo di Canio take note.
Elsewhere, former Arsenal keeper Alex Manninger, who has been through more clubs than Adam Scott, looked a reliable shotstopper, while Tobias Werner and rejuvenated Czech Jan Moravek were outstanding in midfield.
Every survival bid needs a talisman and Augsburg’s comes in the form of top scorer Sascha Mölders, one of those players who makes up in commitment what he lacks in talent.
Playing his 50th match for Augsburg, Mölders showed all his qualities against Frankfurt: tireless work rate, brave heading and a sitter missed in embarrassing style. After a career in the lower leagues, Mölders is relishing his moment in the spotlight.
Having badly smashed his nose in a vital win against Hoffenheim, a reporter asked Mölders if he had considered coming off.

‘‘No, I’ve got four kids, why should I care about my looks?’’ was the reply.

Augsburg fans certainly appreciate the burly forward: dozens wore plasters over their noses for the team’s next match.
Jokes aside, Mölders needs to recapture his goalscoring form: after five strikes in the first six matches of 2013, he has gone more than 500 minutes without finding the net.
Still, Mölders and Augsburg are used to Houdini acts. Last season they had just 15 points at Christmas, before amassing 23 in the second to survive. This term, they only have six wins under their belts, but four have come in the last seven games.

Bundesliga: Hoffenheim fight for survival

Bundesliga: Hoffenheim fight for survival


That’s the kind of experience missing at moneybags Hoffenheim, who began this season as they did last, targeting European qualification.
While Augsburg decided to hang on to one coach, Hoff dumped three.
Former Bayern Munich and Liverpool star Markus Babbel was shown the door in December, after less than a year in charge. Caretaker Frank Kramer was replaced by Marco Kurz, who was then sacked in favour of the little-known Markus Gisdol.
Early signs are promising for the former Schalke assistant coach. He started with a 3-0 victory against Fortuna Dusseldorf and was only denied a second win on Saturday by a late Wolfsburg equalizer.
After two wins and two draws in five matches, Hoffenheim’s expensively assembled squad is sensing survival. But one look at the club’s fortunes with goalkeepers gives the impression that fate is conspiring against them.
Babbel brought in former international Tim Wiese. Dubbed the ‘’Scandal Keeper’’ by the German press, 25 goals conceded in 10 Hoffenheim games now seem the least of his problems. Dropped and despondent, Wiese was fined by the club for what police called ‘‘rude’’ behaviour in a men’s toilet at a party while he was dressed as a prisoner.
This week Wiese, who has not played since January despite being the club’s best paid player, missed training after waking up with half a tooth missing. What of his replacement? Heurelho Gomes, loaned from Tottenham, started well, but broke a hand in the Dusseldorf win and is out for the season.
Ahead of this weekend’s fixtures, Augsburg are in the playoff spot on 27 points, with Hoffenheim three points back.
If Gisdol’s men get anything from a visit to third-placed Bayer Leverkusen, they will be full of confidence ahead of winnable home matches against Nuremberg and Hamburg.
Augsburg also have three away games left, starting with a visit to Borussia Monchengladbach on Friday. Trips to Freiburg and Bayern Munich look daunting, so Weinzierl will need maximum points from home matches against cup finalists Stuttgart and rock bottom Furth.
Above those two, 15th placed Fortuna Dusseldorf are now suddenly in real trouble and will be hoping Augsburg and Hoffenheim quickly return to their losing ways.

Andreas Evagora
Deputy Head
Eurosport2

Eurosport2 has live Bundesliga action on Friday with Bochum v St Pauli (18:00) in the second division, before Monchengladbach v Augsburg (20:30). Then on Saturday don’t miss Dortmund v Mainz (15:30) and Bremen v Wolfsburg (18:30). On Sunday there’s Stuttgart v Freiburg and Nurenberg v Furth. Coverage in north and east Europe only.

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Bundesliga: Ji Force boosts Augsburg's hopes

Bundesliga: Ji Force boosts Augsburg’s hopes

Bundesliga: Hoff making late bid for survival

Bundesliga: Hoff making late bid for survival

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Bundesliga Über Alles

Borussia Dortmund's Reus and team mates celebrate after defeating Malaga to win Champions League quarter-final second leg soccer match against Borussia Dortmund in Dortmund

History will be made when the draw for the Champions League semi-finals takes place in the Swiss town of Nyon on Friday. For the first time, two German teams will be in the pot, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

And yet Dortmund were just one minute away from being knocked out by Malaga on Tuesday at the Westfalen Stadion. Jurgen Klopp’s men didn’t play well that evening but had arguably been the better side over the two leg. Malaga’s second goal by Eliseu, despite being offside, looked to have ended Dortmund’s European adventure. They had other ideas and sensationally scored two goals in two stoppage time minutes to stun Malaga. 

Neven Subotic exclaimed “I’ve never experienced anything like that, only in Hollywood films.” Goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller was more critical. “It was crazy at the end but I must say that we didn’t play good football today.It’s possibly our worst match in the Champions League this season but we possessed huge desire and found the will to win the match.”

That never say die spirit has taken Dortmund to their first semi-final in Europe’s premier club competition in 15 years and after staring elimination in the face they’ll now be confident of going all the way.

Bayern’s route to the semi-final was less dramatic but more impressive as they beat Juventus 4-0 on aggregate. Leading 2-0 from the first leg, they were tested in the opening 20 minutes but crucially didn’t concede an early goal thanks to the excellent Manuel Neuer. They killed off Juve hopes when the tireless Mario Mandzukic pounced to head home the opening goal.

Different routes

Dortmund ignited the Champions League when they won the Group of Death in style. They forced Real Madrid into the runners up spot leaving Ajax third and Manchester City, the world’s richest club, rock bottom.

The pundits were unanimous. Sir Alex Ferguson and Joe Mourinho tipped Dortmund to go all the way to the May final at Wembley. But they haven’t  been as impressive in the knockout rounds. Their will to win got them past Malaga but they’ll have to rediscover their early season form if they’re to lift the big trophy.

Bayern Munich's Pizarro celebrates with his teammates after scoring against Juventus during their Champions League quarter-final second leg soccer match in Turin

Bayern were business like as they won their less glamorous group, even losing to outsiders Bate Borisov in Belarus. Like all great champions they have saved their best till the business end of the tournament. They served notice of their brilliance in the last 16 when they gave Arsenal a masterclass at the Emirates in London. And it was more of the same against Juventus. This time they were equally as good both home and away, not conceding a single goal. As a result, it’s now Bayern who are hot favourites to lift the Champions League title in London.

Juventus coach Antonio Conte was impressed. “It’s difficult to play against such a strong skillful team. In both legs, we played against a great team that has shown it’s one of the best in Europe. They have the potential to be one of the best Bayern teams of all time.”

 Transfer Talk

So Bayern and Dortmund are both through to the semi-finals but there remains a fundamental difference between them. In the past few months half of this Dortmund team have been linked to big money transfers, mostly to the English Premier League. Robert Lewandowski is also on Juventus’ radar while Barcelona and Real Madrid want Matts Hummels. In each of the last two seasons Dortmund have lost a big name player, first Nuri Shahin and then Shinji Kagawa. If they’re to at least stay competitive it’s vital they keep hold of Marco Reus and Mario Gotze. But that’s easier said than done as the Lewandowski transfer saga shows. In stark contrast hardly any of Bayern’s big names are the subject of transfer talk. Why ? The answer is simple. The Bavarians can match what the rest of Europe’s big clubs pay.

Antonio Conte is pessimistic about the state of European football. “Today, I see teams like Real Madrid, Bayern, Barcelona, Manchester United, Manchester City, as clubs that are economic superpowers, with 450 million euros they arrive at the market, put down their money and pick out the best players.”

This simply makes Dortmund’s achievement even more impressive.

UEFA Co-efficent

The upshot of both team’s success will be felt by other teams in Germany’s top flight. The Bundesliga will consolidate the fourth place that they won for this season and could overtake the English Premier League. The semi-finals will feature the two best German clubs and the two top Spanish sides of all time. Spanish football is enjoying a golden age and the Liga is well clear at the top of the Uefa co-efficent. But given that football goes around in cycles what short term effect would there be if a German team were to win the Champions League at the end of the season ?

With 6 games to play, Bayern clinched their 22nd Bundesliga title at Frankfurt last Saturday to stay on course for a unique treble. When they knocked Dortmund out of the German Cup in February they finally looked to have got the ‘Black and yellow’ monkey off their back. And now there’s the tantalising prospect of an all-German Champions League final. Arjen Robben says “We’d like to be kept apart from Dortmund in the next round but you don’t have a choice in these things. What comes, comes. They are big games with four great teams.”

Whatever happens in Friday’s draw and the rest of tournament, one thing is certain. The Bundesliga is on the rise.

Tony Jeffers
Eurosport 2 Commentator

We kick off the weekend’s Bundesliga action on Friday with a European summit as Freiburg host Hannover. On Saturday it’s the deposed champions Borussia Dortmund against rock bottom Greuther Furth (15:30). The match of the weekend pits fourth against third as Schalke host Bayer Leverkusen(18:30). On Sunday Stuttgart entertain Borussia Moenchengladbach(15:30) followed by Augsburg against Eintracht Frankfurt (1730) two teams with contrasting goals.

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The unstoppable Bayern machine

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What a week it’s been for Bayern Munich.
Last Saturday they hammered Hamburg 9-2 in the biggest win of the season and Hamburg’s worst defeat in 43 years. They have one foot in the Champions League semi-finals after Tuesday’s impressive home victory over Juventus and the week’s not over yet. Victory at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday will secure them a record 22nd Bundesliga Title.

Who better to sum up Bayern than Antonio Conte, the coach of the Italian Champions and Serie A leaders after Tuesday’s defeat. “They’re a team which is really young, a team that runs a lot, a tall team, a physically strong team, a really powerful team, we didn’t just find that out today. We congratulate Bayern for playing a great match, we tried to do the best we could but it wasn’t enough.”

Bayern have used last season’s crushing home defeat to Chelsea in the Champions league final as incentive to bounce back even stronger and make amends. Everywhere you look in the last two games there were signs of Bayern’s talent and unshakeable belief.

Strength in Depth
Peruvian striker Claudio Pizarro made only his third Bundesliga start of the season against Hamburg and scored his first goal of the campaign. He liked the feeling so much he went on to add three more and make two assists to create Bundesliga history. Instead of demanding more playing time, the 34-year-old Peruvian seemed happy just to be part of the success. “I feel great. It’s so good to play for this team and to score goals.” Yet his reward was to be an unused substitute for the Champions League quarter final first leg against Juventus where the normal pecking order in attack was restored with Mario Mandzukic as first choice and Mario Gomez a late substitute.

Versatile Muller
When Toni Kroos hobbled off after just 13 minutes against Juventus that might have been a disaster at most other clubs. Not for Bayern though and not just because Arjen Robben was a more than able deputy. The flying Dutch winger didn’t directly replace Kroos on the pitch. That job fell to Thomas Muller and the task wasn’t just to create but also to neutralise the threat of veteran playmaker Andrea Pirlo. Not easy if you haven’t trained for it but the 23 year old took it in his stride once again showing his intelligence and versatility. Not that he’s ‘a jack of all trades and a master of none’, far from it. Last Saturday, Heynckes paid Muller the ultimate tribute by resting him for the game against Hamburg. This was hardly surprising as Muller has been the first choice ahead of Robben all season, missing only five games. And he rewarded his coach with a goal and another solid display. He’s indispensable for both club and country. At only 23 years old his CV makes for very impressive reading. He’s already won 41 caps, and at the last World Cup Finals he was voted best young player after finishing joint top scorer.

The Heynckes Factor
Jupp Heynckes is one victory away from becoming the oldest coach to win the Bundesliga title and could become the first coach to win the treble in Germany and yet he will lose his job to Pep Guardiola at the end of the season. It goes without saying that this is motivating the 67 year old to make history. The Bayern management may have been praised for winning the race for the former Barcelona coach but their treatment of Heynckes has left a bitter taste. Who knows Is there room for another ex Bundesliga legend on the Bayern board ? Heynckes was like a proud father glowing in praise following his side’s performance. “I have to compliment my team. Tonight my players once again played great football in every aspect of the game. They were perfectly positioned on the pitch and that’s why I think a 2-0 win is alright. We could have scored another goal, but a 2-0 win in the quarter finals against Juventus is a good result.”

The attention now switches to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday where a Bayern victory will secure them their record 22nd Bundesliga Title. There will be no celebration though because four days later Bayern have to finish off their Italian job in Turin. And they’re not getting carried away as Arjen Robben stressed. “We need to stay focused and calm. We are all aware of the experience we had against Arsenal in the last round. We learned from it and are on our guard.”

Which is not to say they don’t feel confident if Franck Ribery is anything to go by. “I think we can win everything this year. We have to manage our matches well. I think for the Bundesliga we will be champions, we can reach the final of the German Cup and we can go far in the Champions League.”

The Bundesliga title is a formality but the next two weeks will determine if Bayern stay on course for that unprecedented treble. After losing two Champions League finals in the past three seasons, it might be a case of third time lucky. Even their biggest critics would surely not begrudge Bayern that honour.

Tony Jeffers
Eurosport 2 Commentator

Eurosport 2 kicks off the weekend Bundesliga action on Friday with a relegation six pointer when Hoffenheim host Fortuna Dusseldorf (20:30). On Saturday we’re live when Bayern Munich could be crowned champions if they beat Eintracht in Frankfurt (15:30). That’s followed by a match for Europa League places as Hamburg entertain Freiburg (18:30). On Sunday, we feature two games between four sides all still with a chance of Europa League places. Don’t miss in-form FC Nurnberg at home to Mainz (15:30) followed by Hannover 96 – VFB Stuttgart (1730).

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