Muller saves his special performances for the Champions League - Heynckes

Muller saves his special performances for the Champions League - Heynckes
From ESPN - February 20, 2018

Jupp Heynckes hailed the performance of the "unique" Thomas Muller after Bayern Munich thrashed 10-man Besiktas 5-0 in their Champions League round-of-16 tie.

Bayern's record Champions League goalscorer tallied in each half as the Bavarians took a major step towards their seventh consecutive quarterfinal in the competition. Bayern's captain also provided an assist for Robert Lewandowski, who scored twice in the last 11 minutes, while Kingsley Coman also got on the scoresheet in a resounding victory against the demoralised Turkish champions.

"It's interesting to watch these players and see how they prepare for games. It's extreme with Thomas because he knows exactly how special the Champions League is when you need special performances," Heynckes said at the postmatch news conference.

"If he had not been injured for five weeks, he would have scored a lot more goals this season. He's not only a strong performer, he motivates others and a very important player in our system. He can score goals out of nothing -- like the 1-0.

"With his speed and reactions, he's often in the right place and that makes him unique. That's Muller, the true Muller."

Heynckes, 72, has now led the 2013 winners to 10 successive wins in the competition.

He added: "It was a game of two halves. We began nervously and did not play fluently at all. Our passing was not quick or precise enough. But the game changers were the early red card and the 1-0 shortly before the break. That was a psychologically important time to take the lead.

"If you play with 10 men though in the Champions League it's exceedingly difficult and in the second half we saw a different Bayern team. We played with great fluidity, combined well and scored some lovely goals. I am very pleased with the big win and especially the second half performance."

Heynckes confirmed that Colombia international James Rodriguez had suffered a calf injury and had to be replaced by Arjen Robben immediately after Bayern took the lead.

"James has a stiff calf. I do not think the injury is too bad but I do not know how long he will be out for --whether it's just a few days or longer," Heynckes said.

"He will get checked out tomorrow but he told me he does not think he has torn it but it's stiffened up -- so it was better for me to take him off."

James was also smacked in the face by a wayward Muller shot earlier in the opening period. The Colombia playmaker disappeared down the tunnel with Bayern medic Doctor Muller-Wohlfahrt after his substitution.

Robben told reporters after the game he was unhappy at being left on the bench. However, Heynckes defended his decision.

"Bayern is in the happy position to have every outfield player fit at the moment. We always try to sign the best players who are nearly all internationals," Heynckes said.

"It's obvious when I have four wide options, that one has to watch [from the sidelines]. That is completely normal.

"Players are not going to be happy if they are not starting games. It would be the same if I left out Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng or David Alaba. I absolutely understand this, but I have to manage the situation and am responsible for each player.

"I have a lot of very good players and have to do what is right. Everyone has to accept that. In the coming weeks, one or the other are going to watch and will not be happy. That is completely normal, I was a player too and would have reacted the same way."

Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.


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