Bayern boss Heynckes hails 'Muller that I know' in defeat of Celtic
MUNICH -- Bayern Munich interim coach Jupp Heynckes said he "saw the Thomas Muller that I know" paying tribute to his captain's performance in the 3-0 Champions League win over Celtic.
Following their humbling by Paris Saint-Germain last time out, which cost Carlo Ancelotti his job, Bayern and Heynckes returned to winning ways against the Scottish Champions. It was the 72-year-old's first game in the competition since lifting the trophy in 2013 at Wembley against Borussia Dortmund.
Robert Lewandowski's powerful header was well saved by Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon but Muller, Bayern's record Champions League scorer, was in the right spot to poke home the crucial opening goal on 17 minutes, bagging his 40th in 92 games in the competition.
"Thomas played relatively well on Saturday, but tonight I thought he had a very good game -- not only because of his goal," Heynckes said at a postmatch news conference.
"He was everywhere tonight, working hard to track back and plug gaps. To a large extent, I saw the Thomas Muller that I know.
"It's imperative that the established players set the tone. He's the captain and it's very pleasing."
Buoyed by two straight wins since his return to take charge of the Bavarians for a fourth time, Heynckes said his side were "concentrated and motivated in training," with a "good atmosphere on Sabener Strasse [Bayern training HQ] which has inspired us."
Muller's Germany teammates Joshua Kimmich and Mats Hummels were also on the scoresheet as Bayern racked up their 11th consecutive home win in the group stages.
However, striking a similar note to his news conference after the 5-0 win over Freiburg on Saturday, Heynckes stressed Bayern still had plenty of room for improvement.
"The team played well for long periods but we didn't convert many of our chances and also we allowed too many opportunities defensively too. We were careless. We will have to speak about this and it is something we have to eradicate.
"We have to be alert and concentrate from the first minute to the last. Sven Ulreich has again had to pull off many fine saves. And this simply shouldn't be happening to a team like us," Heynckes said.
Asked if he was set to rotate on Saturday when Bayern travel to play lowly Hamburg in the Bundesliga, Heynckes said: "Of course, we have to think the wear and tear on the players because there is a huge programme ahead of us.
"However, the players will get their recovery time and a break if they need one. But if not, they are high performance athletes who can play three games within a week without a problem."
Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.