At the end of the 2010/2011 season, Bayern Munich looked like a club in disarray. Despite the abundance of talent at the club, Bayern seriously under-performed in 2010/2011, which ultimately led to Louis Van Gaal’s dismissal. The Bavarians were third in the Bundesliga and were eliminated in the Champions League by a rather lackluster Inter Milan side. World class players like Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Muller looked a shadow of themselves, and the team seemed almost entirely dependent on their brittle superstar Arjen Robben.

A few months later, everything has changed. Bayern have essentially looked like the best team in Europe since the beginning of the new season. Ai??The German giants have been reborn under Jupp Heynckes and they’re looking utterly dominant both in the Bundesliga and in Europe. Ai??They haven’t just been winning, they have been dismantling their opponents, including Manchester City’s millionaire squad. The team now looks focused and motivated and the players are finally performing to their full potential.

A few changes were all it took to turn Bayern Munich into world beaters again. TheHardTackle offers a brief analysis of what changed at the German club.

Much Improved Defense

Even in their best year under Louis Van Gaal in 2010, Bayern’s defense had always been a liability, especially compared to their potent midfield and attack. Jupp Heynckes identified this problem and solved it in a fantastic way. Ai??Jerome Boateng has proved to be an improvement on Daniel Van Buyten and he has earned a spot in the Bayern lineup next to Holger Badstuber, who was discarded by Van Gaal and now ressurected by Heynckes. Besides, in Rafinha Bayern have finally found a quality fullback opposite Philippe Lahm.

But the biggest improvement of all has been the signing of Manuel Neuer. The German goalkeeper cost Bayern nearly 20 million euros, but he is worth every penny. Ai??As if his heroic performances with Schalke in the Champions League last season were not enough, Neuer is now proving beyond any doubt that he’s the best goalkeeper in the world at the moment and definitely the best signing of the summer in Europe.

With Neuer and a much improved backline, Bayern’s defense has Ai??gone from a liability to an impenetrable fortress. The Bavarians haven’t conceded a goal for 1018 minutes (and counting) in all competitions, meaning that Neuer has beaten the record set by the legendary Oliver Kahn in 2002/2003 (1011 minutes). This means that Bayern have kept 11 (!) clean sheets in a row. In fact, they have only conceded one goal in 13 official matches this season, in their Bundesliga opener against Borussia MAi??nchengladbach. It’s truly incredible how in just a few months Bayern’s defense went from hopeless to one of the best (if not the best) in Europe.

Scoring a goal past Manuel Neuer has become one of the biggest challenges in football at the moment, Bayern’s defense and the German no.1 have just been unbreachable lately.

The Effective Pressing System Introduced by Jupp Heynckes/Increased Work Ethic

As much credit as Bayern’s backline and Neuer deserve, the whole team has played their part in Bayern’s astonishing defensive record so far. Ai??Jupp Heynckes has brought a remarkable work ethic to the club and an extremely effective pressing system.

The new manager changed it all!

While in the Van Gaal days the priority was to keep the ball and attack to score as many goals as possible, Heynckes hasAi??emphasized off the ball work. Bayern now look to get the ball back as soon as they lose it with relentless collective pressing, with the team moving as a well-drilled unit. Ai??Even attacking players like Franck RibAi??ry and Thomas Muller provide cover in defense when necessary, in fact even Mario Gomez isn’t neglecting his defensive duties; the team attacks and defends as a unit.

Unlike in the Van Gaal days, the backline is very well protected, with the holding midfielders Schweinstiger and Luis Gustavo never leaving too much space between them and the back four and quickly initiating the team’s attacks with accurate forward passes.

Bayern are no longer dependent on Arjen RobbenAi??

Before they tied 0-0 at Hoffenheim last weekend, Bayern had won 10 matches in a row in all competitions, with an overall goal difference of 28-0. This is even more unbelievable if we consider that Arjen Robben was sidelined for most of this streak.

In the past two seasons, Bayern seemed entirely dependent on Robben. The Dutch winger had to be rushed back from injury several times because Bayern simply couldn’t perform without him. This was the case just a few months back, but now Bayern are flying high, making mince meat of most of their opponents even without their mercurial superstar.

Jupp Heynckes has found a way to fully maximize the world class talent of his other attacking players and the team hasn’t missed a beat without Robben. Schweinstiger is a perfect fit in Heynckes’s system and he’s showing why he’s one of the best all-around midfielders of this generation, defending and attacking at an exceptional level. Franck RibAi??ry is enjoying arguably the best form of his career, while young German prodigies Thomas Muller and Tony Kroos are finally revealing all their potential on a consistent basis. Up front, Mario Gomez has simply been on fire; with 12 goals in 12 games, only Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has scored more than the 26-year-old German striker so far this season in Europe. Bayern’s attack is now incredibly fast, dynamic and essentially deadly, even without Robben, something that was unimaginable just six months ago.

Much less reliance on the super-star!

Looking at how devastating Bayern have been, it’s scary to think that they’ll be even better as soon as Robben is fully recovered. Robben isn’t just another player, he’s one of the very best and most effective in the world. In 2010/2011, only Lionel Messi had a better goal/assist per minute ratio than the Dutch winger. With Robben back, Bayern’s dream of reaching the Champions League final in the Allianz Arena can definitely be a lot more than just a dream.

A Perfect Storm

In many ways, Bayern’s campaign so far this season is reminiscent of Barcelona’s beginning of the Pep Guardiola era in 2008/2009. Like Barcelona, Bayern were a club in disarray and pinned their hopes on a new manager to bring them back the glory days (although Guardiola was much more of a gamble at the time than Heynckes now), both lost their first league match 1-0 away (to Numancia and Borussia respectively) and then went on an incredible run, combining victories with fantastic football. Perhaps more crucially, both had a team full of homegrown players peaking at the right time, along with uber-talented outside players.

Will Bayern go on to achieve as much as Barcelona have in the past few years? Probably not, but they will definitely be a top team in Europe for many years. They’ve had their own perfect storm, with everything apparently coming together at the right time.

Philippe Lahm and Bastian Schweinstiger, two homegrown players, are now at the peak of their powers, bringing both the quality and experience required, while the likes of Badstuber, Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller (who also went through Bayern’s youth academy) are finally realizing their potential. Ai??These five homegrown players epitomize the great balance between youth and experience in the squad. Even the experienced players aren’t exactly old (in fact, at 28 RibAi??ry is the oldest regular starter), which means that this squad can stay together and keep growing in strength for at least 4-5 more years.

Not only do Bayern have a fearsome starting XI, they also have good quality depth in every area of the pitch. The likes of Diego Contento, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, Daniel Van Buyten and Ivica Olic are pretty good back-up players (who would start for most teams in the world), and let’s not forget that either Muller or Kroos (presumably the latter) will be benched as soon as Robben comes back, which is indicative of Bayern’s squad strength.

Most of the media attention has been centered on Spain’s big two and the top Premier League teams, but a juggernaut has quietly emerged in Germany, seriously threatening to take Europe by storm this season. Ai??There is no doubt that Bayern are one of the very best teams in Europe at the moment and they’ve looked unstoppable so far. With the great management from Jupp Heynckes and the incredible talent and depth in their squad, the sky is the limit for Bayern this season, they’re top contenders in every competition. No one should be surprised if they indeed to make it to the Champions League final at home in the Allianz Arena come May.

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5 Responses to “Bayern Munich: The Secrets Behind Their Renaissance Under Jupp Heynckes”

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  1. Inder Methil says:

    Great piece Manuel!…bayern do look scary….really enjoyed the read..

  2. Paul (Reading/UK) says:

    Excellent article Manuel and a great read. I’ve been a Bayern fan since the wonderful days of 1974 and it is brilliant to see Bayern hitting such excellent form and emerging again into being a current european football super power.

  3. Joseph says:

    Ribbery-Robben can tear apart Barcelona. This Bayern team has all the ingrediants to set up the pace

    • EDGARD says:

      I HOPE SO , MY FRIEND … I WANNA SEE OTHER TEAMS DESTROYING MADRID AND BARCELONA , I’M GETTING SICK OF THEM,
      I LIKE BAYERN SINCE Karl-Heinz Rummenigge I WAS 9 WHEN I SAW HIM PLAYING AGAINST URUGUAY IN MEXICO 1986 .
      WE TIE THAT DAY , AND I GET SAD WHEN GERMANY LOST AGAINST ARGENTINA. THEY ALMOST GET THEM

  4. EDGARD says:

    I’M FROM URUGUAY AND BAYERN IS THE SECOND TEAM THAT I REALLY LIKE, NACIONAL DE MONTEVIDEO IN MY HEART FOREVER , NO REAL MADRID , NO BARCELONA , BAYERN ALL WAY IN EUROPE , OF COURSE I FOLLOW MY COUNTRYMEN IN THE DIFFERENT LIGUES , I WOULD LIKE TO SEE SOME DAY SUAREZ PLAYING FOR BAYERN MUNCHEN OR CAVANNI , SHOULD BE VERY NICE FOR THEM.