HEYNCKES REVELS IN NAPOLI RETURN
NAPLES (AFP) - Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes revelled in his return to Napoli 20 years after he first brought a Bayern Munich side to the south of Italy.
Heynckes was coach of Bayern in 1988/89 when Napoli knocked the Germans out of the UEFA Cup at the semi-final stage, courtesy in no small part of a 2-0 victory at the San Paolo.
But this time a vastly superior Bayern side had to content themselves with a 1-1 draw that keeps them in command of Champions League Group A.
'The thing I enjoyed was rediscovering the fans and their synthesis with the team,' he said.
'It was an atmosphere any player would like to play in. The only thing lacking was the presence of (Diego) Maradona.
'He was artistic, the best player in the world. Twenty years ago they were an excellent team and this time they also have some very good players and have a good chance of progressing.'
As for the game, though, Heynckes felt his team could have won.
They took the lead after just two minutes through Toni Kroos but a Holger Badstuber own goal six minutes before half-time denied them victory.
'It was a very intense game from both sides, we went in front very quickly and until the equaliser we didn't let up,' said Heynckes.
'Napoli showed they play with heart, enthusiasm and commitment.'
Bayern missed a second half penalty when Morgan De Sanctis plunged to his left to clutch Mario Gomez's weak spot-kick, awarded after the Germany striker's shot had hit Paolo Cannavaro's arm.
'From where we're sitting on the bench it's obviously difficult to see so I don't want to risk getting involved in this type of discussion,' said Heynckes.
Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri wasn't so coy, particularly over a decision at the other end when the ball appeared to hit Bastian Schweinsteiger's arm but the penalty wasn't given.
But he was delighted with his team's response to having gone behind so early in the game.
'We didn't expect to start in this way, maybe we're used to needing a bit of time to get into the game,' he said.
'We played great after the start, which should have been better.
'After Barcelona this is the best team in Europe and we could have beaten them.
'In their last 10 games they scored 25 goals and conceded just one. Now they have conceded another one against us and before this draw they had won two out of two (in the Champions League).
'There was also a penalty for us and if there hadn't been this handball Marek (Hamsik) waould have been in front of goal and probably would have scored, so what we've done in this game is exceptional.
'This shows our performance in an even better light because we didn't get the decisions, maybe we would have missed the penalty but we had the chance to go in front.
'We were up against a team that puts everyone in trouble and it's crazy how good they are.
'We played with great attention, like we did in Manchester, everyone played very well, especially given the strength in attack of the team in front of us.'
Bayern lead the group by two points from Napoli with Manchester City just one point further back and Villarreal propping up the table after three defeats.