Friday, 27 October 2017

James Rodriguez back for Bayern, Franck Ribery focused on recovery

MUNICH -- Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes says that James Rodriguez has recovered from a back injury and will return to the Bundesliga champions' squad for their home game against Leipzig this weekend.

Colombia international James, 26, missed Bayern's 5-4 DFB Pokal shootout win over the same opponents on Wednesday, while Kingsley Coman limped off on the hour mark with a knee injury. However, Heynckes said the France international would also be available to start tomorrow's game.

"James tweaked his back in final training before the cup game and told me he couldn't move," Heynckes said at a news conference. "But he trained well, without any pain, both today and yesterday and will be in the squad.

"He [Coman] had bruising on his knee problem for two days before the cup game, and that's especially difficult to put out of your mind for a young player. But I've spoken to him today for a long time and he's highly motivated. He really wants to play tomorrow, he says he's feeling good and there's nothing to prevent him playing."

Heynckes also said he believed Jerome Boateng is becoming "fitter and better" with every game alongside Mats Hummels at the heart of the defence.

"We have a very good alternative in Niklas Sule," he added. "But Mats and Jerome are a proven duo, world champions as well and I don't really want to miss out on either of their services."

Meanwhile, Heynckes insisted he has never seen Bayern's longest serving player, Franck Ribery, so focused on his recovery from injury. Ribery has posted photos on social media of his comeback bid after suffering knee ligament damage last month in Berlin.

"Franck is motivated like I have never seen him before," Heynckes said. "He used to avoid the fitness room in the past, but nowadays he loves it. That's important if you don't want to lose your basic fitness."

The main controversy from the midweek cup game surrounded referee Felix Zwayer's decision to rescind a penalty decision in Leipzig's favour following Arturo Vidal's foul on Sweden international Emil Forsberg.

After consulting his assistant -- stood 30 yards further away from the incident -- Leipzig were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box with which Forsberg scraped the top of the crossbar. Tempers frayed at the interval as Leipzig's sporting director Ralf Rangnick tried to show the official that the foul had occurred inside the penalty area on his mobile phone. Pushing and shouting ensued as the two teams went into the tunnel.

Asked about Rangnick trying to show the referee evidence, Heynckes commented: "We never used to have that. You [journalists] have more to write about nowadays.

"In general you cannot afford to blame the referee when you lose. It is more productive to analyse your own game for mistakes and what you have done wrong. Anyway, I've always had a good relationship with referees."

Asked to explain his substitution of Arturo Vidal, just three minutes after Naby Keita's dismissal, Heynckes revealed one of his main mantras as a coach.

"I always say to my players in the Champions League, Bundesliga or DFB Pokal: we start with 11 men and we leave the pitch at the end of the game with 11 men," he said.

"I know my Arturo very well. I'll tell you a story about Arturo from my first game at Leverkusen against Freiburg: Arturo picked up a yellow card for a foul after only two minutes, and then he made a stupid foul after 10 minutes, so I showed him my own red card and took him off after 20 minutes."I knew him from training and how impulsive he is and how aggressively he plays football. I knew I had to react. He could not understand this and wanted to fly straight back to Chile and we were not very good friends for a while."

Facing a similar situation in midweek, Heynckes said he "had to react" with Vidal on the verge of a red card after a series of fouls and added: "We also had good players on the bench. If the game becomes 10 vs. 10 then it becomes a completely different game again."

Bayern are level on points with Borussia Dortmund but trail the leaders by three goals, while Leipzig sit in third place just a point behind both the top two in the table.

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