Bayern Munich’s veteran coach Jupp Heynckes on Tuesday warned his players ahead of their Champions League semi-final, second leg, that they should not take it for granted they were already in the final as Wednesday’s opponents Barcelona remain the best team in the world.
Heynckes, 67, who will be replaced as coach of the Bavarians in the summer by Pep Guardiola, is aiming to bow out by winning the Champions League and his team have one foot in the final after their 4-0 win in last week’s first leg.
However, the man who won the European Cup with Real Madrid in 1998 before being promptly sacked, knows nothing can be taken for granted in football.
“It is a Champions League semi-final between two top-level European teams,” said Heynckes at his eve-of-game press conference at the Camp Nou.
“Barca remain the best team in the world. They are capable of doing great things, especially at the Camp Nou,” he added, in the knowledge that Barca have not lost a home European game since an inconsequential group-stage reverse at the hands of Rubin Kazan in 2009.
“We will try to avoid that, but we will not change our style. We want to continue attacking and trying to score goals. We are not made to defend, even if we have a good defence.
“We are creative, attack-minded and that is what we will try to show tomorrow (Wednesday).
“We are a great side and are capable of scoring at the Camp Nou.”
Bayern are now the favourites in the eyes of many, not just to win the tie, but to win the competition.
And triumphing in next month’s final at Wembley would go a long way towards making up for the trauma of losing last year’s final on penalties to Chelsea at their own Allianz Arena home.
“When you lose a final you could give up but at Bayern we do things differently,” Heynckes said.
“We changed things, signed some good players, strengthened the team.
“Now the team is more homogeneous and has even greater desire to win things. A lot of things have changed.”
Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger is one of those players who bear the scars of last year’s final defeat, but he is aware that Bayern still have work to do yet before securing their place in the final.
“We have opened the door but we have not stepped through it yet,” he said.
“Few teams can resist against Barca here. We know that they will be playing for pride and that we will need to remain focused just as we were in the first leg.”
Schweinsteiger added that the Bundesliga champions will not be distracted by the fact that six players run the risk of being suspended for the final if they are booked on Wednesday night.
Philipp Lahm, Javi Martinez, Luiz Gustavo, Mario Gomez, Dante and Schweinsteiger himself are all just one yellow card away from missing the Wembley showpiece if Bayern progress.
“We will not approach the match any differently. We need to make sure we don’t commit any avoidable fouls but we must still go into challenges looking to win them.”