Carlo Ancelotti is a trusted and well-respected manager, but Bayern Munich officials showed bravery to fire him when results were not going the way of the Italian.
If firing Ancelotti was sensible, the egg heads at Allianz Arena did even better when they went for a quick fix in Jupp Heynckes who has delivered beyond expectations and his now looking to get the evasive Champions League trophy for the Bavarians.
Heynckes has a proud record to protect. In each of the three seasons, he has coached a team in the Champions League, they have reached the final. And should Bayern Munich win this season’s competition – a quest that continues with Wednesday’s first-leg meeting with Real Madrid– he is likely to repeat what followed his two victories: swiftly departing the club he guided to Europe’s premier prize.
Having inherited a team three points off the top, Bayern have
since wrapped up the title with as much as five games to spare.
Heynckes favours simplicity and has pushed Javi Martínez forward from central defence into midfield, where the Basque was a lynchpin of Heynckes’ 2013 treble-winners.
That allows James Rodríguez greater liberty as a playmaker. Bayern have
been far more direct than they were under Guardiola, placing less emphasis on possession and more on set pieces.
A trio of Champions League semi-final disappointments blighted Guardiola’s tenure after inheriting Heynckes’ holders.
Expectations this year are reasonably high – Ancelotti’s Bayern came close to denying Real Madrid, last season’s winners, in the quarter-finals until Arturo Vidal’s harsh dismissal prior to extra
time in the Bernabéu where Cristiano Ronaldo put them to the sword, collecting a hat-trick in an eventual 4-2 second-leg defeat.
The question on the lips of German football fans and Bayern supporters across the world is whether Heynckes will help them to a revenge over Los Blancos.
Heynckes said "nobody believed that Bayern Munich would reach the Champions League semifinals" when he took over in October as his Treble-seeking side advanced to the last four 2-1 on aggregate against Sevilla after a goalless draw in the Bavarian capital.
Bayern appointed Heynckes, 72, as interim coach until the end of the season following Carlo Ancelotti's dismissal the day after a 3-0 Champions League group-stage defeat at Paris Saint-Germain.
"When I started, nobody believed Bayern Munich would reach the Champions League semifinals," Heynckes told a news conference.
"My players have lofty ambitions in the Champions League to go all the way to the final. I think we are in a good place at the moment, but you need some luck, good officials and your best form on the day."