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Bayern Munich

Jupp Heynckes 'bringing fun back' for Germans- Boateng

Jerome Boateng had considered quitting Bayern Munich but says returning coach Jupp Heynckes has brought fun back to training before hosting Celtic.

Heynckes, 72, came out of retirement after Carlo Ancelotti's sacking.

"I decided to stay here and I didn't want to just run away after a bad spell," said Germany defender Boateng.

"You can see from the way we are training now that the team is having fun again and that the trainer has an intuition for things."

Celtic are away at Bayern in the Champions League at 19:45 BST on Wednesday.

Boateng missed the first two months the year with a shoulder injury and then hurt his thigh in May, ruling him out until September.

The 29-year-old World Cup winner struggled to win a starting place on his return and Ancelotti left him out of the squad for Bayern's 3-0 defeat away by Paris St-Germain three weeks ago.

Several senior players had already complained to chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge that training sessions under Ancelotti were too easy and the Italian was sacked a day after that Champions League loss.

But Saturday's 5-0 Bundesliga drubbing of Freiburg was the perfect start for Heynckes, now in his fourth spell in charge of the German champions, and the restored Boateng.

"Celtic are a good opponent who can break very quickly and have very fast players," said Boateng of the Group B game at the Allianz Stadium.

"But we want to be on the front foot and score quickly if we can.

"We want to bounce back after the PSG loss with a win. It is an important game."

Poland striker Robert Lewandowski echoed the suggestion that Heynckes has already made an impact after a week back.

"He wants us to focus on the details," he said. "In training sessions, every pass and every shot is important.

"We need to go forward together as a team and have fun."

Lewandowski, who has found the net 10 times in his past 12 Champions League matches and scored against Freiburg, has made no secret of his desire to win the Europe's elite trophy this season.

"It's a very important game for us," he said. "Three points after two games is not enough for us.

"Now we have to go from one win to the next."

Heynckes, who has twice won the competition as a manager, says Celtic's recent Champions League results are a warning to his side.

"You cannot make the mistake of underestimating Celtic," he said.

"They've won the league in Scotland six years in a row and last season drew with Borussia Monchengladbach and Manchester City in the group stages.

"They have a very good coach. They're powerful and aggressive. They're a very competitive team."

Bayern began their group campaign with a 3-0 home win over Anderlecht - a scoreline matched impressively by Celtic in Belgium three weeks ago.

It meant Brendan Rodgers' side had recovered well from their own bruising 5-0 defeat at home by PSG and avoiding a loss in Munich would raise the Glasgow side's hopes further that they could qualify for the last 16 by finishing ahead of Bayern.

"You can always lose a game in the Champions League, but FC Bayern have great ambitions," added Heynckes. "The players are fired up.

"I see how hard the players are working and it's only a matter of time before we play really good football."


Written by Gideon Sarpong

Bayern to announce Heynckes as shock Ancelotti replacement

Bayern Munich are set to appoint Jupp Heynckes as their manager for the rest of the season.

Bayern sacked Carlo Ancelotti last week after a slow start to the campaign culminated in a 3-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

A number of managers have been linked to the vacant managerial role, with Thomas Tuchel, Luis Enrique and Jurgen Klopp in the running.

Julian Nagelsmann of Hoffenheim was the favourite however, but Bayern are set to appoint a stop-gap until the summer.

According to widespread reports, Heynckes is expected to become Bayern manager for the fourth time in his career.

The 72-year-old retired from football in 2013 after guiding the German club to the Treble.

He also had a spell with the Bundesliga side from 1987 to 1991, as well as some time as caretaker manager in 2009.

Written by Gideon Sarpong

Robben stars as champions bid farewell to Lahm and Alonso

Bayern Munich bade farewell to Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso in fitting fashion with a 4-1 win over Freiburg on the final day of the Bundesliga season.

Arjen Robben, Arturo Vidal, Franck Ribery and Joshua Kimmich sealed a 25th win of the season for the champions and ensured they went a whole league campaign without defeat at the Allianz Arena for the first time since 2008.

The match was largely a tribute act to club captain Lahm and Alonso, however, who played their final matches before retiring from respective glittering careers.

Past greats of the club were presented to the crowd prior to kick-off before Lahm, ahead of his 517th appearance for Bayern, was granted a special tribute involving flowers, a golf bag and a mosaic in the stands with the message 'from a child of our own to a legend of our club'.

It was Alonso who produced the first telling contribution of the two, however, setting up Robben to cut in from the right and rifle home.

Freiburg still had a top-five finish up for grabs and missed good chances through Mike Frantz, Janik Haberer and Nils Petersen before Vidal struck 17 minutes from time.

Former Bayern man Petersen struck his 19th Bundesliga goal as a substitute to set a new record, but Carlo Ancelotti's side were not to be denied as Alonso and Lahm were replaced in the  closing stages to a rapturous reception before Ribery bundled home a stoppage-time third and Kimmich - tipped to be either retiring great's heir in the team - nodded in to round off the party.



Bayern, sporting their new home kit, started like a team eager to mark the occasion with a result to match and they took the lead with only four minutes on the clock.

Robben was allowed time to move into the penalty area from the right and his left-foot shot looked to take a slight deflection as it flew beyond Alexander Schwolow and into the far corner.

Thomas Muller forced Schwolow into another good low save before Robert Lewandowski found the net, only to be flagged offside.

Freiburg had scarcely threatened in the first 25 minutes but Bayern keeper Tom Starke – whose retirement has slipped under the radar amid the tributes to Lahm and Alonso – produced a superb one-handed save to keep out a deflected effort from Frantz.

Haberer then sliced a glorious chance wide of the left-hand post from six yards before Vincenzo Grifo tested Starke from close range, and Lewandowski was promptly denied by Schwolow on the break as the match suddenly opened up.

There was a lengthy delay to the start of the second period, with officials bizarrely struggling to dismantle the temporary stage that had been set up for Anastacia's half-time performance, but Bayern looked as slick as ever as Lewandowski forced Schwolow into a brilliant reaction stop within a minute of the whistle.

Starke clawed away a bouncing half-volley from Florian Niederlechner in one of Freiburg's better spells and Bayern thought they had snatched a second through Muller on the break only for Lahm to have strayed offside before setting him up.

Robben smacked the crossbar from 20 yards but Starke was again called upon to preserve Bayern's lead, saving twice from former team-mate Petersen as Freiburg chased the equaliser that would have lifted them back into the Europa League spots - they will now be supporting Borussia Dortmund in the DFB-Pokal in order to qualify.

And their attacking efforts ultimately cost them as Vidal made it 2-0 with a stylish finish, sweeping a disguised finish into the bottom-right corner from the edge of the area after Robben teed him up.

Starke was denied a clean sheet on his final outing as Petersen halved the deficit three minutes later to surpass Alexander Zickler as the Bundesliga's most deadly substitute.

But Bayern made the win secure in injury time, Robben bursting into the Freiburg half on the break before squaring for Ribery to bundle the ball in via post and goalkeeper, before Kimmich added a fourth with the last touch of the match.

Written by Gideon Sarpong

Hoffenheim end Bayern's unbeaten run

Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich's 20-match unbeaten run was ended by Hoffenheim on Tuesday.

Third-placed Hoffenheim, whose 29-year-old coach Julian Nagelsmann is the youngest in the league, won thanks to a half-volley from Andrej Kramaric in the first half.

It was only the second time Bayern have lost in the league this season and they remain 13 points clear at the top.

Second-placed RB Leipzig can now cut Bayern's lead at Mainz on Wednesday.

"Of course, we shouldn't have allowed that to happen," said Arjen Robben, who stood in for Bayern captain Philipp Lahm.

"It was better in the second half, but the ball wouldn't go in. Our lead in the table is still big, but that was an unnecessary defeat."

Hoffenheim dominated the first half, but Bayern came close to levelling just before half-time when Robert Lewandowski saw his effort hit the crossbar.

The hosts had goalkeeper Oliver Baumann to thank in the second half, after he pulled off a string of saves from Lewandowski and substitute Franck Ribery.

Elsewhere, Borussia Dortmund kept pace with Hoffenheim as they coasted to a 3-0 victory over Hamburg.

Werder Bremen made it six wins from seven games after beating Schalke 3-0, while Cologne won 1-0 against Frankfurt.

Written by Gideon Sarpong

Lewy shines with brace against battling Frankfurt

FC Bayern extended their lead at the top of the Bundesliga to ten points with a 3-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday. The visitors held up the Bavarian steamroller for 37 minutes, but the table-toppers twice struck to deadly effect late in the first half. Robert Lewandowski and Douglas Costa handed the German record champions a crucial half-time lead before the Polish hitman rounded off his brace, closing out the meeting early into the second half.

The champions started with Manuel Neuer in goal and a back four comprising Philipp Lahm, Javi Martínez, Mats Hummels and David Alaba. Thiago and Arturo Vidal directed operations in front of the rearguard, with Bayern's attacking unit featuring Thomas Müller between wingers Arjen Robben and Costa looking to serve lone striker Lewandowski.

Carlo Ancelotti made three changes to the XI that saw off Arsenal on Wednesday. Skipper Lahm returned after missing the Gunners clash with suspension, with Müller and Costa featuring in midfield. Rafinha, Franck Ribéry and Xabi Alonso gave way to the trio, meaning that the starting line-up was identical to the 8-0 thrashing of Hamburg in February. In the second half Jérôme Boateng made his comeback after a long spell on the sidelines, coming on for Martínez before Kingsley Coman and Renato Sanches took over from Lewandowski and Vidal.

Brave Eintracht spring a surprise

The 75,000 capacity crowd at the Allianz Arena saw a high-octane encounter with Bayern dominating possession and Eintracht threatening on the break. The German record champions were in the driving seat, but Eintracht by no means parked the bus, as their back five and a lengthy injury roster suggested.

The afternoon almost began with a shock for the hosts, when Alaba gifted possession to Eintracht, but Ante Rebic skied the first chance. A quarter-hour later Bayern had to thank Hummels for keeping the scores level. Branimir Hrgota had ghosted past the Bayern rearguard and even rounded Neuer, the goal at his mercy, when Hummels made a world-class tackle, scrambling the ball away to safety. By that time a stray Vidal pass had thwarted Bayern's first chance and Robben miscued a cross for Lewandowski following a fine dribble. Costa's 15-yarder went wide before the half-hour.

Crucial half-time lead for patient Reds

Munich opened the scoring when Müller latched on to a Lewandowski header and invited the Poland captain to tap in after 37 minutes. The goal opened the floodgates, and the home crowd soon rose a second time when Vidal delivered a sumptuous 50-yarder to Alaba, who whipped it into the box for Costa to crash home. By half-time two shots on target had yielded two goals for Ancelotti's men.

Müller almost closed out the meeting early into an entertaining second half, but Hasebe scrambled his fine lob over visiting netminder Lukas Hradecky off the goal-line. Two minutes later the woodwork rattled at the other end, Rebic's 20-yarder crashing off the crossbar. Lewandowski then made it three when he got hold of a Robben cross and rounded off his brace. The Pole almost scored a hat-trick, but saw another effort go wide before Thiago miscued from 20 yards, but a fourth refused to come.

The result takes Bayern onto 59 points from 24 matches, ten clear of RB Leipzig who fell at home to Wolfsburg. The Bavarians are back in action next Sunday, when they travel to face Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga.

Written by Gideon Sarpong

Xabi Alonso: Bayern Munich and Spain star confirms retirement at end of season

Bayern Munich midfielder Xabi Alonso has confirmed he will retire when his contract expires in the summer.

Alongside a picture of him waving goodbye, the 35-year-old Spain international wrote on Twitter: "Lived it. Loved it. Farewell beautiful game."

He won club honours with Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern and the World Cup and two European Championships.

Alonso told Bayern's TV channel: "It wasn't an easy decision to make, but I believe it's the right time.

He added: "I always thought it would be better to quit sooner rather than later. I still feel good, but I believe this is the right moment."

Alonso joined Liverpool from Real Sociedad in 2004 and was part of a famous Champions League victory in Istanbul in his first season as the Reds came back from 3-0 down at half-time to beat AC Milan on penalties. He also claimed an FA Cup, a Uefa Super Cup and a Community Shield during his time at Anfield.

He moved to Real Madrid in 2009 and won a second Champions League as well as the Spanish title before a switch to Germany in 2014, where he has helped Bayern win two Bundesliga titles and reach the quarter-finals of this year's Champions League - courtesy of a 10-2 aggregate win over Arsenal on Tuesday.

Alonso played 114 times for Spain and scored 16 goals as the national side won the 2008 and 2012 European Championships, either side of their maiden World Cup triumph in South Africa in 2010. His final appearance for his country came at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Written by Gideon Sarpong