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Heynckes aiming to foil his former love

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Heynckes aiming to foil his former love

Postby FCBayernNews » Sat Aug 06, 2011 4:30 pm

Bayern warmed up nicely for the new term in the DFB Cup last Monday, but the 2011/12 campaign gets going for real on Sunday evening (Live in English from 5.15 pm on FCB.tv Web Radio) when FCB entertain Borussia Mönchengladbach at the start of the 49th Bundesliga season. "And it would have to be Gladbach," Jupp Heynckes said with a wry smile, "for me, it's a game unlike any other."

The Bayern boss was born in Mönchengladbach and spent almost all his playing career in a Borussia shirt. He collected four championship winners' medals with Gladbach, and also won the UEFA and DFB Cups. To cap it all, he began his coaching career at the club. "An old love never dies," the 66-year-old stated ahead of the latest reunion, "I have a very special relationship with Borussia." However, even that would be put to one side on Sunday: "I'll block it out for 90 minutes."

The only result that matters for Bayern when they meet the side who avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth last term is a win. "This is one of the teams we have to be beating. Three points are a must," advised director of sport Christian Nerlinger. "We have to be there from the start and carry the fight to our rivals," agreed Arjen Robben.

The FCB camp is buzzing with confidence prior to kick-off. "I'm convinced, given our high quality squad, we're in a position to bring the championship shield back to Munich," declared chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Honorary president Franz Beckenbauer voiced his agreement: "The team is significantly better than last season, and we can expect good things."

Huge potential

"It's been a perfect pre-season this time," commented club captain Philipp Lahm, but Heynckes' team now has to translate that into results. "Fantastic preparations count for nothing if we make a poor start. We have to go out and play well," said Mario Gomez. Last season's top scorer confessed to feeling a little tense ahead of the opening fixture: "Right at the start, you're never quite sure where you stand."

Heynckes was pleased with his team's display against Braunschweig in the cup, but warned he and his coaching staff still have plenty of work to do. "I'm seeing lots of things we could still do better. There's enormous potential in this team, and we need to step up a gear in the league. Gladbach are a different calibre of opponent. In the last third of last season, they showed they were actually much better than their position in the table at the time."

Spoilt for choice

Borussia spent a significant portion of last term at the bottom of the standings, but the arrival of coach Lucien Favre heralded just one defeat in their last six matches and a place in the relegation play-offs, where Gladbach narrowly preserved their top-flight status. "There's no way we'll underestimate them," promised Gomez, "they'll fight, graft and bite." And FCB are ready for a scrap. "Right from the start, we have to show them they have no chance of taking anything from the match," Heynckes urged.

In terms of team selection, the boss is spoilt for choice on this occasion. Franck Ribéry and Robben are both fit again after injury, and keepers Manuel Neuer and Jörg Butt trained as normal on Saturday after brief stomach upsets.

Expecting no gifts

"Bayern have a fantastic team, and I see them as joint favourites for the title with Dortmund," Favre said in the build-up to the match. The Swiss coach, who incidentally led Bayern's Champions League play-off opponents FC Zürich to the domestic title in 2006 and 2007, predicted "a tough match and a tough season for us. Right from the start, we'll have to fight for every point."

Nor is former Gladbach player and coach Heynckes in any mood to hand out gifts to his first love on Sunday. "It's a game we have to win, even if it's by the only goal," declared the 66-year-old, who is leading Bayern into a new season for the fifth time, but just like his players, still confessed to "a certain tension. I had a few butterflies before the cup match, and now it's the Bundesliga," the veteran boss remarked, "the adrenaline's really flowing now." That's because it all starts for real on Sunday.
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