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All with parts to play

Heynckes puts faith in team spirit

Twenty-four years have passed since Hermann Gerland last took to the field as a pro footballer, but the “Tiger” still knows how to perform on the field, as he showed in his now legendary sprint from one side of the pitch to the other to take Philipp Lahm a drink during the home meeting with Gladbach. He was at it again on the training ground recently, charging to the dressing rooms to collect weatherproof jackets for the players.

Gerland’s actions demonstrate total commitment to the collective whole, and it is exactly that sort of team spirit Bayern hope will carry them to their target of second place in the Bundesliga, and perhaps even the title. “Jupp Heynckes insists that we take a friendly and comradely attitude towards each other,” revealed Lucio, “the team matters to him much more than individuals.”

Subs ‘as vital as Ribéry'

The spirit of comradeship explicitly included the squad players, Heynckes declared. “All my players are important, not just the eleven who start the games,” the coach emphasised. Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting with Leverkusen, he held a series of man-to-man chats with “the so-called reserves. It’s important they feel they’re just as important as the Franck Ribérys.”

The squad players are returning the compliment with interest, as Daniel van Buyten showed in the Leverkusen clash. The centre-half, who last featured in the starting line-up nine weeks ago, was a last-minute addition to the team, but played his part in Bayern’s first clean sheet in four games. “I know from experience that the bench can be the deciding factor at this stage of the season,” commented Heynckes.