Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid: Jupp Heynckes could win third Champions League title without defending any of them

Here in Bavaria tonight, the veteran coach hopes to take another step towards an incredible yet bizarre treble.

Because if Heynckes, who is now 72, wins this season’s Champions League, he will become the first manager to have lifted the trophy on three occasions and not been in charge the following season to defend it.

After leading Real to their first major European success for 32 years over Juventus in 1998, he was sacked eight days later because the team finished fourth in La Liga.

In 2013, Heynckes took Bayern to their first Champions League triumph for 12 years with a sweet victory over Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund at Wembley — but then retired to be replaced by Pep Guardiola.

Now, having only come out of retirement in October to replace axed Carlo Ancelotti, Heynckes will return to his rocking chair in the summer with Niko Kovac of Eintracht Frankfurt taking over.

Heynckes has already led Bayern to their 28th Bundesliga title. Now comes tonight’s Champions League semi-final first leg against Zinedine Zidane’s Real.

Zidane is bidding to win the Champions League for a third season in a ROW.

And, in a further twist, the Frenchman was playing for Juve when Heynckes won his first crown.

The German said: “It is exciting to be in a semi-final.

“It was not planned that I would be on this stage as I had finished my career.

“So it is extraordinary to come back and to be a coach at such an age.

“It is a real privilege for me to have been successful. I have made it into the semi-finals and it is coincidental that I face Real Madrid, where I was a coach for that one year. These are the highlights of a career.”

Asked about his memories of the 1998 final, which was won with a second-half goal from Predrag Mijatov, the Bayern coach was initially hesitant.

He said: “I live in the present. I have had a good career as a player and as a coach and I have never looked into the past.

“I have never watched matches in which I have played or managed. The Champions League victories in 1998 and 2013, for example. I have never watched them.

“Of course I remember 1998. Juventus had Zidane, Inzaghi, Deschamps all playing in Amsterdam but we were so happy to finally win.

“For the first time in 32 years, the club had won the Champions League.

“Real Madrid found its national identity again. It was a great moment. It was not normal for Real Madrid to win the Champions League, compared to the old team of Di Stefano and Puskas. We showed that Real Madrid was once again in Europe.”

Heynckes’ win with Real — which kicked off the Galactico period — was the club’s seventh European Cup.

That number has rocketed over the past 20 years. Zidane reeled in No 11 in 2016 thanks to a penalty shootout win over Atletico Madrid and No 12 last year in Cardiff with a 4-1 destruction of Juve.

On the way to last season’s triumph was a 6-3 aggregate win over Bayern in the quarter-finals with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a hat-trick.

Asked if he fears the amount of punishment Ronaldo could dish out, Heynckes said: “He has had an incredible career but we have to consider the facts. We must not forget we have a top striker in our ranks who has scored 39 goals.

“It is a case of whether they can stop Robert Lewandowski.

“But Real Madrid are a strong team and it will be a good game to watch.

“I have played against coaches, some top coaches.

“I am a great admirer of Zizou Zidane as a player but also a coach. I have huge respect for him and I like the way Real Madrid has been playing since he has been coach.

“He is calm on the sidelines. He does not try and show off.”

Of tonight’s game, he added: “We have world-class players on both sides who play exciting, attacking football.

“There is no favourite in this match against Real, but I have a good feeling for my team.”

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