Bavarian giant Bayern hungry for more success in Europe
Less than 24 hours after securing a sixth successive Bundesliga title, Jupp Heynckes cut Bayern Munich’s celebrations short as the club aims for a seventh Champions League semifinal appearance in nine seasons.
“We want to take everything this season that there is to take -- and this team has got big ambitions,” said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
Only Real Madrid and AC Milan have enjoyed more success on the continent than five-time European champion Bayern, which is bidding for a second treble in five years.
Thiago Alcantara’s headed winner earned Bayern a 2-1 victory at Sevilla in last week’s quarterfinal first leg, leaving the Germans in control going into tonight’s return at the Allianz Arena.
Bayern clinched a record-extending 28th German league title on April 7 with a 4-1 thrashing of Augsburg to continue its domestic dominance that dates back to 2012.
But the following day, those not involved from the start in Augsburg -- including Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Müller, Javi Martinez and Mats Hummels -- were put through their paces on the training ground.
“It’s nice to see how everyone worked hard [at Augsburg],” said Müller.
“This will has been with us for the whole season, we hope it will carry us a bit further.”
With the Bundesliga wrapped up, Bayern turns its focus to Europe.
Since the Bavarians lost the 2010 final to Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan, only holder Real Madrid has reached the last four of the Champions League more often than Bayern.
The Spanish giant has managed it seven times in eight seasons, while Bayern has done so on six occasions.
Bayern missed out on the semifinals a year ago, losing to Real in the quarterfinals, and in 2011 when it was knocked out in the last 16 by Inter Milan.
The 72-year-old Heynckes led Bayern to the 2013 Champions League title when Arjen Robben scored the winner in a 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund.
Under Heynckes’ successor Pep Guardiola, Bayern was knocked out at the semifinal stage in each of his three seasons -- every time at the hands of Spanish opposition.
Heynckes replaced Carlo Ancelotti in October after Bayern was crushed 3-0 away by Paris Saint-Germain in the group stage. At the time, Bayern trailed then-leader Dortmund by five points in Germany.
“When he took over, Jupp said that it would be difficult to make up the five points -- now we have more than 20 on Dortmund,” beamed Rummenigge.
“The team and Jupp did a great job.
“What I like about this team, it goes on, on and on and is not arrogant.
“The team is already focused on Wednesday -- we really want to reach the semifinals of the Champions League.”
Bayern could yet repeat its 2013 treble, as it faces Bayer Leverkusen in the semifinals of the German Cup later this month for a place in the May 19 showpiece.