Heynckes praises Pep's Kroos gamble
Playing Toni Kroos as the single pivot in holding midfield was a risk that paid off, former Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes has said.
On Wednesday, current Bayern coach Pep Guardiola's starting lineup with Toni Kroos as the sole holding midfielder came as a surprise to many.
While the Manchester United target was assisted by the two full-backs Philipp Lahm and David Alaba when in possession, the selection was still unexpected
“It was risky,” Heynckes told kicker. “Pep Guardiola risked a lot, because he knew that he needed to attack Manchester United. It worked out.
"But I knew that the players would be highly motivated for this challenge. They were aware of their big chance to make it into the semifinals and lifting the trophy once again.”
That dream of winning back-to-back Champions League titles was also the main focus in the German media on Thursday. “FC Bayern: Duty fulfilled,” kicker chief reporter Karlheinz Wild wrote in a comment piece. “Their own target does not allow anything less than the semifinals. Not with this noble squad, which has already won the Treble last season and was pepped up by the two new stars Mario Goetze and Thiago [Alcantara].
"And really, it should be the final and the trophy again despite all the uncertainties that one match can harbour.”
The German tabloid Bild praised Thomas Mueller as the “Bayern king," headlining “Bye Bye, Man United.”
Mueller scored the crucial goal to make it 2-1 after 68 minutes and Bild said: “Whenever Bayern desperately need a goal, Mueller steps up and scores. In the past it was Gerd Mueller and these days it is Thomas Mueller.”
“Bayern heave themselves into the semifinals,” the broadsheet Sueddeutsche headlined and named Patrice Evra’s opening goal as the turning point of the match. “Following the prompt reply against the defensive Englishmen Guardiola’s team turns up the heat,” the broadsheet said.
Spiegel Online echoed the sentiment. “One step back, three steps forward,” they headlined. “FC Bayern played more cautious than needed for a long time. But conceding a goal unleashed the attack.”
They also put the spotlight on Guardiola’s comments about the quiet Bayern fans in the stadium, who, just like the team, responded following Evra’s goal. “Guardiola’s team needed that extra push, from anywhere,” Spiegel commented.
The Munich tabloid Abendzeitung headlined “Mueller does it. Bye Bye, Manchester United.” And also singled out the Evra goal as the turning point. “Don’t provoke them,” Abendzeitung wrote. “Three goals in 17 minutes. It was the return of the cannibal footballers in red.
"The return of the ruthless Bayern. But it was a hard work until then. You could have expected the worst after the first half. Bayern did not shoot at David de Gea’s goal once.”
Only after the United goal “they finally did everything to get closer to their goal, which no-one has ever achieved: To defend the Champions League title.”
The Mirror reports that United's executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, will remain in Germany in an attempt to reach a deal for Bayern's Toni Kroos -- although on Tuesday the player's agent insisted he will be remaining at the Allianz Arena.