Created on 2018-04-04 at 12:30 PM
FC Bayern are in the middle of the decisive phase of the season: They have made it to the Champions League last eight, the DFB Cup semi-finals and have all but wrapped up the Bundesliga title. The difficult first leg away to Sevilla demonstrated once more how crucial Bayern's strong and large squad is for Jupp Heynckes' big ambitions in the final spurt. A large squad might prove decisive, especially when Bayern struggle to find their rhythm, as they did in the first half against the Spanish side. "We made many mistakes in our build-up play, we often lost possession, we weren't well-structured in defence and especially in midfield," analysed Heynckes.
But the 72-year-old once again made the right decisions, subs James and Rafinha providing crucial impetus. Especially James showed what quality Heynckes has up his sleeve in this crucial phase. The Colombian started on the bench against Sevilla after his impressive display last weekend where he scored one and set up two goals in the 6-0 victory over Dortmund. James was on hand when Arturo Vidal had to be subbed off with a knock after the half-hour. One minute later he initiated the move that lead to the equaliser. It came as no surprise that sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic praised the 26-year-old: "He turned in another very, very good display. He organised our play with good passing. We benefit a lot from him," the 41-year-old said about James, who was named Man of the Match by UEFA.
Tough decisions for Heynckes
Heynckes must manage his players' workload before the decisive matches in the next few weeks to keep up the highest possible performance level. He had to make tough decisions away to Sevilla, Arjen Robben joining James on the bench. "Arjen had been injured for three weeks, he played 90 minutes on Saturday. And three days later an extreme contest like this: I thought it was too risky," said the FCB head coach. Robben "respected and accepted" Heynckes' decision. All players know they have to pool their strengths if they want to keep their dreams of the final in Kiev alive.