The Bayern subs’ bench in Stuttgart could hardly have featured a greater array of world-class talent: Mario Gomez, Arjen Robben, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, Jérôme Boateng, Xherdan Shaqiri and Rafinha all took seats in the dugout, and there was no room at all in the 18-strong squad for Luiz Gustavo and Claudio Pizarro. “All of them could play, all of them are totally motivated in training,” said Jupp Heynckes, “we don’t just have 11 first-teamers, we have 20.”
On the one hand, Heynckes said he is “delighted” by the depth in the squad, but on the other hand, he is dismayed at being unable to offer playing time to so many good footballers. “It’s obviously a shame,” admitted the 67-year-old, voicing sympathy with some of his men who have expressed their disappointment. “But the players have to accept it,” the coach insisted, “victories are the priority.”
What that means at the start of the second half of the campaign is a temporary end to squad rotation. “I won’t be making many changes at the moment,” the head coach explained, “the team has to come together as a unit, and we have to keep winning. I refuse to take risks in the circumstances.” The starting line-up in Fürth was the same as the starting line-up in Stuttgart, only the second time this season the boss has named an unchanged team.
Heynckes’ policy is supported by results, as his men have won both games since the winter break 2-0. “The momentum is currently with the players who played today,” commented Matthias Sammer, as the current first-choice team is on a roll.
However, there will be playing time for all soon enough, at the latest in mid-February when FCB resume playing twice a week. “The players know me, and they know I’ll start rotating again when we’re back to the Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday pattern,” said Heynckes. Sammer for one is sure of that: “We’ll still need every player.”