May 2 (Reuters) - Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes said his Spanish connections formed a key part of the Bundesliga champions’ 7-0 aggregate rout of Barcelona in their Champions League semi-final.
The 67-year-old led Real Madrid to the Champions League title in 1998 during a single season at the Bernabeu, although he was promptly sacked afterwards.
He has also coached Tenerife and had two stints at Athletic Bilbao.
Even since the draw was made, he has been keen to promote his experience in the country, agreeing to answer questions in Spanish during media conferences and forego the services of simultaneous translations.
“I know Spanish football,” he told German television after Bayern won 3-0 at the Nou Camp in Wednesday’s semi-final second leg.
“I know the players, I know the philosophy, I always watch Barcelona play Real Madrid because I enjoy it.”
Heynckes, who saw his side finish as runners-up in the Champions League, German Cup and Bundesliga last season, will be replaced by former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola when his contract ends at the end of the season amid speculation that he is reluctant to give way.
Guardiola’s appointment was made public in January without the club having made any announcement on Heynckes’ future.
Since then, treble-chasing Bayern have won 21 out of 22 matches in all competitions, the only slipup coming in a 2-0 home defeat at home to Arsenal in the Champions League.
They have already won the Bundesliga and reached the Cup final.
Heynckes, nicknamed ‘Osram’ after the light-bulb manufacturer because of the way his face turns red when he is irritated, has been keen to blow his own trumpet since then.
Against both Barcelona and quarter-final opponents Juventus, Heynckes, who is in his third stint at Bayern, was at pains to point to his meticulous preparations and knowledge of their opponents.
”This team really pulls together,“ he said after Wednesday’s match. ”We get through outstanding work together, and we’re tremendously hungry for success. Both games have shown we’re capable of football at a very high level.
”We’re playing extremely high-speed football, we’re very well organised, we’re tactically smart, we close down the space, and our transitions are functioning perfectly this season.
“We’re a real team, from the front to the back.”
To complete a perfect evening, Bayern managed to get through the match without yellow cards for any of the three starters who had been in danger of missing the final through suspension.
“I’ve always told me players that we can get through this sort of game without yellow cards,” he said after only Arjen Robben, who was not under threat, was booked.
Midfielder Javi Martinez, used to being on the wrong end of Barcelona defeats at previous club Athletic Bilbao, was possibly the happiest of the Bayern players.
“I played against Barcelona 14 or 15 times when I was in Spain and didn’t win,” he said. “I had to come to Germany to do it.” (Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)