Bayern Munich Eye To Repeat Treble Heroics As Boss Ancelotti And His Men Hits The Perfect Chord
Bayern Munich is hitting a vein of form that could see them repeat 2013’s treble heroics. Ahead of their second leg duel in the Champions League against Arsenal on Tuesday evening, the Bavarian club has not only established a handsome 5-1 advantage over the Premiership club in the first leg but is delighted with the way things are going between the team and its coach
“We are now playing the style our coach wants us to play,” midfielder Thiago said and indicates Bayern and their Italian head coach have found the right balance after eight months of working together. The Spaniard said the getting-to-know-each-other phase is over, “after having difficulties adopting the new coach’s style, as it always is.”
While Ancelotti is happy the way his defense is playing at the back and when going forward, for Thiago it is clear, “that we are a team of very high quality, which loves to have the ball but at the same time likes to attack aggressively.” The new-found the balance, Thiago says, is creating a feel-good atmosphere among Bayern’s squad.
Currently, the team is on track not only in the German Bundesliga where they top the table seven points ahead of second-placed RB Leipzig but has also reached the semifinal of the German Cup. More important to the club is the outcome of the 2016/2017 Champions League. Their last 16 clashes against Arsenal will presumably offer no great fears after the comfortable win in the first leg. Especially as they are unbeaten in the last 16 games.
Despite them having a long road ahead of them in 2017, French striker Franck Ribery feels reminded of the outstandingly successful 2013 season when Bayern managed to win the treble with their former coach Jupp Heynckes. “We know now the three vital months are ahead of us,” Ribery said.
According to Ribery, Ancelotti’s style and personality are the basis for the good vibrations around the team. “He’s a coach who likes his players. He talks a lot to everyone, drops by at the physiotherapy center and has a chat,” Ribery said. Team and staff have developed a deep trust in the coach’s style. “His mentality is important for the spirit radiating around the team and in the locker room,” he continued.
Defender Mats Hummels is, like Ancelotti, also satisfied with the defensive work and praises the willingness of his teammates to defend with full concentration despite their attacking impulses. “It can be put like this, everyone has fun defending and are prepared to track back if necessary. Defensive attacking means a lot of work starting in the opponent’s half. It’s what we’re now doing,” the German international said.
For the Bayern coach, the current success is inspired by the “trust and confidence in our work that we’ve now developed”.
Ribery refused to regard the return game against Arsenal as a “friendly” as the English side is still is powerful outfit capable of causing a surprise. “There are no friendlies in the Champions League,” the Frenchman said. And Uli Hoeness expects Arsenal “to take their chances, especially in the first 30 minutes. We have to be careful,” Bayern’s president said.
The good mood that Ancelotti has created is partly down to the little steps the Italian has taken. Ancelotti has increased the training intensity, demands more discipline from his team and seems to have found his preferred line-up when it comes to important games.
While Rafinha, Juan Bernat, Joshua Kimmich, Kingsley Coman and Douglas Costa are basically important substitutes at present, Ancelotti can choose from two options when it comes to his midfield and attacking personally.
The safer option sees Bayern’ s brain Thiago together with Xabi Alonso and Arturo Vidal while the riskier one is that of Vidal and Thomas Mueller, playing ahead of Thiago and behind striker Robert Lewandowski. So far, all the Bayern players are contented waiting for the chance to be sent onto the pitch in the starting eleven. In both options, Thiago is expected to continue to inspire the team with his impressive form.
But soon Ancelotti could be forced to change his team again. Jerome Boateng will be back soon. The defender is likely to replace Javier Martinez despite the Spaniard’s impressive performances. Boateng and Lahm won’ t travel to London due to their current injuries. In advance of the Arsenal game, Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will have a fitness test as he is suffering from a calf injury.
(With Inputs From Xinhua)