After win, different perspectives from the top

Posted by Susie Schaaf

Despite moving within five points of securing the Bundesliga title with eight matches remaining, being the first team in Europe to qualify for next season's Champions League competition and setting a new record for away wins in a season, the 2-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen Saturday at the BayArena still did not sit entirely well with the Bayern Munich brass.

After the shock 2-0 loss to Arsenal in Champions League competition mid-week, Uli Hoeness and Jupp Heynckes got into a little "you-say-tomato-I-say-tomahto" -- Hoeness calling Bayern "over the last three weeks, a beautiful mess"; before the Leverkusen match, Heynckes countered that Hoeness had "missed a bit" as they played an "almost-perfect game against Borussia Dortmund in the (German) cup" -- meaning, I suppose, that Bayern was only a beautiful mess for two weeks instead of three.

But despite the pressure for Heynckes to gather a positive result, he chose to leave out his regular starting front four and his captain: Franck Ribery (injury), Toni Kroos, Thomas Mueller, Mario Mandzukic and Philipp Lahm did not even make the trip to the BayArena.

Instead, Rafinha would deputize for Lahm at right back, with an attacking quartet of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Xherdan Shaqiri, Arjen Robben and Mario Gomez up top.

One might have pondered the Startelf in light of the recent criticisms by the Bayern board, but it all worked out in the end. Bayern controlled the majority of the first half with some pretty, flowing football. And Gomez got the visitors ahead deservedly on 37 minutes after a Shaqiri fast-break picked out the striker; Gomez flicking over Danny Carvajal, beating Sebastian Boenisch, and shooting across keeper Bernd Leno for his seventh goal of the term.

But the home side took it to Bayern after the half, Leverkusen pressing early and often, while Munich's energy suddenly went missing. Heynckes would make two ponderous substitutions -- Claudio Pizarro for Gomez and Daniel van Buyten for Robben-- and the ensuing 'Kusen corner kick found an unmarked Simon Rolfes promptly heading home past Manuel Neuer.

The match took a strange twist at the end, however, as Philipp Wollscheid scored an own goal after a Schweinsteiger free kick. Just desserts, perhaps, as a Jerome Boateng own goal at the Allianz Arena in the first tie netted Leverkusen a win -- Bayern Munich's only Bundesliga loss.

After the match, Hoeness was asked by tz if the 2-1 performance led to the right result. "The team's performance was really good," he said, "but that was not a particularly difficult game!"

Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer told Spiegel: "We won, and for 45 minutes played well. In part, it was a good reaction, but we must continue to put our finger in the wound. No question: When the national team comes back next week, we'll have something different blowing at us."

Heynckes was a bit more positive, telling Liga Total: "This win has made me happier than many others. We are very satisfied. [It] was very difficult after the Champions League game on Wednesday. We played a good game in the first half, and were strongly driven."

When asked about his future plans, Heynckes said he wouldn't take on a directorial role with Munich, but instead claimed he still had a lot to offer: "When I think of [former German chancellor] Konrad Adenauer assuming office at 71, and now our new Pope who is 76, then I think can still do something at 68."

First things first, Jupp. With the Bundesliga basically in the bag, the Pokal semifinal ahead, and a difficult Champions League quarterfinal tie with Juventus looming, his focus is firmly on Bayern Munich: "I am only going to reveal my future after the end of this season."

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