Interview

Flick’s Bayern ambition

Bayern coach Hansi Flick could hardly have achieved more in his short spell at the helm, but the ambitious coach is not about to rest on his laurels

INTERVIEW Ian Holyman

Back in November last year, Bayern München were in desperate shape. The perennial powerhouse of German football had just lost 5-1 to Frankfurt to find themselves fourth in the Bundesliga table. Something needed to be done, quickly. But in the rush to replace coach Niko Kovač with his assistant Hansi Flick, few at the club realised they had already found the answer to their prayers.

The former Bayern midfielder was only ever meant to be a stop-gap solution. Flick, however, had other ideas. And as he racked up win after win, the 55-year-old earned himself a permanent deal in April, ultimately ending the season as just the second German coach to mastermind a European Cup, league and domestic cup treble. No wonder that even Jürgen Klopp sounded envious after Bayern completed the set in the UEFA Champions League final. “It would be hard to write more history in eight months,” noted the Liverpool boss, scarcely an underachiever himself. It might be tempting to dwell on that historic success, but – true to his ambition – Flick is already looking ahead. From the “icing on the cake” of tonight’s UEFA Super Cup to a new season of trophy targets. 

How important is the Super Cup to you?

I can only tell you what others have told me who have already played in this competition. They’ve told me that this is the icing on the cake when you lift the trophy after a superb season. Our aim is clear that we want to win this game – I think the same applies to Sevilla as well.

What kind of game do you expect against Sevilla?

Sevilla impressed me very much. Inter Milan are a very strong team, especially in the Europa League matches. Sevilla made a great comeback in the final but played impressively before that. So, this will be a difficult game for us. Both teams had a short break and not very long to prepare, but I hope that we haven’t lost anything with regards to our endurance and fitness. After our tests, we’ve reached a very good level and we prepare well for every game. Obviously, now we start in the Bundesliga, which is very important for us. It is a new beginning. We are missing players like Philippe Coutinho, Álvaro Odriozola and Ivan Perišić, who unfortunately are not part of the squad. Maybe we will get new players, but I don’t know, because there will be changes and we don’t know what things will look like. But we will adapt and I think it’s a highlight when you win the UEFA Super Cup as a Champions League winner. 

Hansi Flick and Robert Lewandowski share a moment


What’s your tactical approach?

We want to have the ball. When the opposition have the ball, we have to be active; we want to actively win the ball. I think that’s been obvious throughout the games, how we want to act. And when we are in possession of the ball, we want to finish with determination; we don’t want to kick around. If there’s a possibility of creating a chance, of course we are going to do that. Apart from that, it’s always easier when you are in possession of the ball and when you can control the opposition. But if we lose the ball, of course we want to pressure the opponent.

When a player gives you tactical advice, do you listen?

I always listen and take everyone seriously. For me, that’s very important and that’s something I did as sporting director at the DFB [German Football Association]. I always said that in a meeting, every word is equally important, whether it comes from the sporting director, the coach, or the youth coaches. Every word is important and you can always say something. You can only benefit from being open-minded, and the players might then sometimes feel a little better about what is possible on the pitch. So, why should I be like, “Hey I’m the boss here!” just because I’m the coach? It’s about working together, and I am someone who expects and wants that from the team – that others point things out to me and contribute something. Sure, ultimately, it’s the coach who decides, but input from the players and the coaching staff can make decisions easier.

How important is the human side in this job? Could that be the most important aspect?

I don’t really know; I think that’s different for everybody. Everybody has a different approach to how they lead a team, especially as a coach. For me, it became very important after gaining so much experience over the years, even decades. I always say that there are three elements that are important in a team. First, there has to be trust and loyalty. Quality has to be there too, of course, whether from the coach or the players, and you have to have fun together. So yes, if those three conditions are met, I think you have a good chance of working successfully. 

The Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona was incredible to watch. Where did that intensity come from? You just kept going forward time and time again…

Well, there are several points. One of them goes back to the match against Borussia Dortmund in November, my second match. We wanted to be more offensive, to defend from the front, and there was one moment when a player asked me: “Coach, isn’t that a bit too dangerous?” And I said, “No, when we go through with it – and we can count on safeguarding at the back – we can get the ball in our possession.” And it worked well, and I think it was a sort of confirmation for the players that they could actually do it and that there was something to fall back on. Also, that unity is immensely important; that you defend together as a team, collectively, against the ball, not just individually. And I think those are things that just did us a lot of good and that the team has put into practice brilliantly. Against the ball, it was important that we already had somebody up front with Robert Lewandowski, who sets off certain impulses, and then at the back to have somebody like Manuel Neuer who, as the last man, has the backs of the central defenders and can save some situations with deep passes. And that’s how we did it.

Kingsley Coman scores Bayern's winner in Lisbon


Your choice to play Kingsley Coman in the final was surprising but, obviously, worked out well. Why did you make that decision?

In those positions, Kingsley and Philippe Coutinho just trained very well. And Kingsley was taught the game in Paris, and against your [former] club, you’re always a bit more motivated or your motivation is just up a notch – and then to score a goal is even better. But he also just showed us his quality as a player and that we can rely on him.  

How do you want to integrate Leroy Sané into the team?

Leroy is a player who opens up more options for us due to his ability to play in different positions. We will see, he hasn’t reached 100% yet. He’s close to it and it will take some time, but we will give him time to reach that. We are happy that he’s on our team now. 

How big will the challenge be to defend your Champions League title?

We had a perfect season. We won every game and didn’t lose a single one. Sure, it’s difficult to defend a trophy, but we accept the challenge and it’s one of our aims to get as far as possible in the Champions League, but we take one step at a time. In the end, even being proud of the team’s achievements, you focus on what is to come. And that is a new start, a new season, and a new team. And we need to prove ourselves again.

This article appears in the official UEFA Super Cup programme. You can order a print copy here now and read the digital version ahead of tonight’s match in Budapest.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

Back in November last year, Bayern München were in desperate shape. The perennial powerhouse of German football had just lost 5-1 to Frankfurt to find themselves fourth in the Bundesliga table. Something needed to be done, quickly. But in the rush to replace coach Niko Kovač with his assistant Hansi Flick, few at the club realised they had already found the answer to their prayers.

The former Bayern midfielder was only ever meant to be a stop-gap solution. Flick, however, had other ideas. And as he racked up win after win, the 55-year-old earned himself a permanent deal in April, ultimately ending the season as just the second German coach to mastermind a European Cup, league and domestic cup treble. No wonder that even Jürgen Klopp sounded envious after Bayern completed the set in the UEFA Champions League final. “It would be hard to write more history in eight months,” noted the Liverpool boss, scarcely an underachiever himself. It might be tempting to dwell on that historic success, but – true to his ambition – Flick is already looking ahead. From the “icing on the cake” of tonight’s UEFA Super Cup to a new season of trophy targets. 

How important is the Super Cup to you?

I can only tell you what others have told me who have already played in this competition. They’ve told me that this is the icing on the cake when you lift the trophy after a superb season. Our aim is clear that we want to win this game – I think the same applies to Sevilla as well.

What kind of game do you expect against Sevilla?

Sevilla impressed me very much. Inter Milan are a very strong team, especially in the Europa League matches. Sevilla made a great comeback in the final but played impressively before that. So, this will be a difficult game for us. Both teams had a short break and not very long to prepare, but I hope that we haven’t lost anything with regards to our endurance and fitness. After our tests, we’ve reached a very good level and we prepare well for every game. Obviously, now we start in the Bundesliga, which is very important for us. It is a new beginning. We are missing players like Philippe Coutinho, Álvaro Odriozola and Ivan Perišić, who unfortunately are not part of the squad. Maybe we will get new players, but I don’t know, because there will be changes and we don’t know what things will look like. But we will adapt and I think it’s a highlight when you win the UEFA Super Cup as a Champions League winner. 

Hansi Flick and Robert Lewandowski share a moment


What’s your tactical approach?

We want to have the ball. When the opposition have the ball, we have to be active; we want to actively win the ball. I think that’s been obvious throughout the games, how we want to act. And when we are in possession of the ball, we want to finish with determination; we don’t want to kick around. If there’s a possibility of creating a chance, of course we are going to do that. Apart from that, it’s always easier when you are in possession of the ball and when you can control the opposition. But if we lose the ball, of course we want to pressure the opponent.

When a player gives you tactical advice, do you listen?

I always listen and take everyone seriously. For me, that’s very important and that’s something I did as sporting director at the DFB [German Football Association]. I always said that in a meeting, every word is equally important, whether it comes from the sporting director, the coach, or the youth coaches. Every word is important and you can always say something. You can only benefit from being open-minded, and the players might then sometimes feel a little better about what is possible on the pitch. So, why should I be like, “Hey I’m the boss here!” just because I’m the coach? It’s about working together, and I am someone who expects and wants that from the team – that others point things out to me and contribute something. Sure, ultimately, it’s the coach who decides, but input from the players and the coaching staff can make decisions easier.

How important is the human side in this job? Could that be the most important aspect?

I don’t really know; I think that’s different for everybody. Everybody has a different approach to how they lead a team, especially as a coach. For me, it became very important after gaining so much experience over the years, even decades. I always say that there are three elements that are important in a team. First, there has to be trust and loyalty. Quality has to be there too, of course, whether from the coach or the players, and you have to have fun together. So yes, if those three conditions are met, I think you have a good chance of working successfully. 

The Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona was incredible to watch. Where did that intensity come from? You just kept going forward time and time again…

Well, there are several points. One of them goes back to the match against Borussia Dortmund in November, my second match. We wanted to be more offensive, to defend from the front, and there was one moment when a player asked me: “Coach, isn’t that a bit too dangerous?” And I said, “No, when we go through with it – and we can count on safeguarding at the back – we can get the ball in our possession.” And it worked well, and I think it was a sort of confirmation for the players that they could actually do it and that there was something to fall back on. Also, that unity is immensely important; that you defend together as a team, collectively, against the ball, not just individually. And I think those are things that just did us a lot of good and that the team has put into practice brilliantly. Against the ball, it was important that we already had somebody up front with Robert Lewandowski, who sets off certain impulses, and then at the back to have somebody like Manuel Neuer who, as the last man, has the backs of the central defenders and can save some situations with deep passes. And that’s how we did it.

Kingsley Coman scores Bayern's winner in Lisbon


Your choice to play Kingsley Coman in the final was surprising but, obviously, worked out well. Why did you make that decision?

In those positions, Kingsley and Philippe Coutinho just trained very well. And Kingsley was taught the game in Paris, and against your [former] club, you’re always a bit more motivated or your motivation is just up a notch – and then to score a goal is even better. But he also just showed us his quality as a player and that we can rely on him.  

How do you want to integrate Leroy Sané into the team?

Leroy is a player who opens up more options for us due to his ability to play in different positions. We will see, he hasn’t reached 100% yet. He’s close to it and it will take some time, but we will give him time to reach that. We are happy that he’s on our team now. 

How big will the challenge be to defend your Champions League title?

We had a perfect season. We won every game and didn’t lose a single one. Sure, it’s difficult to defend a trophy, but we accept the challenge and it’s one of our aims to get as far as possible in the Champions League, but we take one step at a time. In the end, even being proud of the team’s achievements, you focus on what is to come. And that is a new start, a new season, and a new team. And we need to prove ourselves again.

This article appears in the official UEFA Super Cup programme. You can order a print copy here now and read the digital version ahead of tonight’s match in Budapest.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

Back in November last year, Bayern München were in desperate shape. The perennial powerhouse of German football had just lost 5-1 to Frankfurt to find themselves fourth in the Bundesliga table. Something needed to be done, quickly. But in the rush to replace coach Niko Kovač with his assistant Hansi Flick, few at the club realised they had already found the answer to their prayers.

The former Bayern midfielder was only ever meant to be a stop-gap solution. Flick, however, had other ideas. And as he racked up win after win, the 55-year-old earned himself a permanent deal in April, ultimately ending the season as just the second German coach to mastermind a European Cup, league and domestic cup treble. No wonder that even Jürgen Klopp sounded envious after Bayern completed the set in the UEFA Champions League final. “It would be hard to write more history in eight months,” noted the Liverpool boss, scarcely an underachiever himself. It might be tempting to dwell on that historic success, but – true to his ambition – Flick is already looking ahead. From the “icing on the cake” of tonight’s UEFA Super Cup to a new season of trophy targets. 

How important is the Super Cup to you?

I can only tell you what others have told me who have already played in this competition. They’ve told me that this is the icing on the cake when you lift the trophy after a superb season. Our aim is clear that we want to win this game – I think the same applies to Sevilla as well.

What kind of game do you expect against Sevilla?

Sevilla impressed me very much. Inter Milan are a very strong team, especially in the Europa League matches. Sevilla made a great comeback in the final but played impressively before that. So, this will be a difficult game for us. Both teams had a short break and not very long to prepare, but I hope that we haven’t lost anything with regards to our endurance and fitness. After our tests, we’ve reached a very good level and we prepare well for every game. Obviously, now we start in the Bundesliga, which is very important for us. It is a new beginning. We are missing players like Philippe Coutinho, Álvaro Odriozola and Ivan Perišić, who unfortunately are not part of the squad. Maybe we will get new players, but I don’t know, because there will be changes and we don’t know what things will look like. But we will adapt and I think it’s a highlight when you win the UEFA Super Cup as a Champions League winner. 

Hansi Flick and Robert Lewandowski share a moment


What’s your tactical approach?

We want to have the ball. When the opposition have the ball, we have to be active; we want to actively win the ball. I think that’s been obvious throughout the games, how we want to act. And when we are in possession of the ball, we want to finish with determination; we don’t want to kick around. If there’s a possibility of creating a chance, of course we are going to do that. Apart from that, it’s always easier when you are in possession of the ball and when you can control the opposition. But if we lose the ball, of course we want to pressure the opponent.

When a player gives you tactical advice, do you listen?

I always listen and take everyone seriously. For me, that’s very important and that’s something I did as sporting director at the DFB [German Football Association]. I always said that in a meeting, every word is equally important, whether it comes from the sporting director, the coach, or the youth coaches. Every word is important and you can always say something. You can only benefit from being open-minded, and the players might then sometimes feel a little better about what is possible on the pitch. So, why should I be like, “Hey I’m the boss here!” just because I’m the coach? It’s about working together, and I am someone who expects and wants that from the team – that others point things out to me and contribute something. Sure, ultimately, it’s the coach who decides, but input from the players and the coaching staff can make decisions easier.

How important is the human side in this job? Could that be the most important aspect?

I don’t really know; I think that’s different for everybody. Everybody has a different approach to how they lead a team, especially as a coach. For me, it became very important after gaining so much experience over the years, even decades. I always say that there are three elements that are important in a team. First, there has to be trust and loyalty. Quality has to be there too, of course, whether from the coach or the players, and you have to have fun together. So yes, if those three conditions are met, I think you have a good chance of working successfully. 

The Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona was incredible to watch. Where did that intensity come from? You just kept going forward time and time again…

Well, there are several points. One of them goes back to the match against Borussia Dortmund in November, my second match. We wanted to be more offensive, to defend from the front, and there was one moment when a player asked me: “Coach, isn’t that a bit too dangerous?” And I said, “No, when we go through with it – and we can count on safeguarding at the back – we can get the ball in our possession.” And it worked well, and I think it was a sort of confirmation for the players that they could actually do it and that there was something to fall back on. Also, that unity is immensely important; that you defend together as a team, collectively, against the ball, not just individually. And I think those are things that just did us a lot of good and that the team has put into practice brilliantly. Against the ball, it was important that we already had somebody up front with Robert Lewandowski, who sets off certain impulses, and then at the back to have somebody like Manuel Neuer who, as the last man, has the backs of the central defenders and can save some situations with deep passes. And that’s how we did it.

Kingsley Coman scores Bayern's winner in Lisbon


Your choice to play Kingsley Coman in the final was surprising but, obviously, worked out well. Why did you make that decision?

In those positions, Kingsley and Philippe Coutinho just trained very well. And Kingsley was taught the game in Paris, and against your [former] club, you’re always a bit more motivated or your motivation is just up a notch – and then to score a goal is even better. But he also just showed us his quality as a player and that we can rely on him.  

How do you want to integrate Leroy Sané into the team?

Leroy is a player who opens up more options for us due to his ability to play in different positions. We will see, he hasn’t reached 100% yet. He’s close to it and it will take some time, but we will give him time to reach that. We are happy that he’s on our team now. 

How big will the challenge be to defend your Champions League title?

We had a perfect season. We won every game and didn’t lose a single one. Sure, it’s difficult to defend a trophy, but we accept the challenge and it’s one of our aims to get as far as possible in the Champions League, but we take one step at a time. In the end, even being proud of the team’s achievements, you focus on what is to come. And that is a new start, a new season, and a new team. And we need to prove ourselves again.

This article appears in the official UEFA Super Cup programme. You can order a print copy here now and read the digital version ahead of tonight’s match in Budapest.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

Interview

Flick’s Bayern ambition

Bayern coach Hansi Flick could hardly have achieved more in his short spell at the helm, but the ambitious coach is not about to rest on his laurels

INTERVIEW Ian Holyman

Back in November last year, Bayern München were in desperate shape. The perennial powerhouse of German football had just lost 5-1 to Frankfurt to find themselves fourth in the Bundesliga table. Something needed to be done, quickly. But in the rush to replace coach Niko Kovač with his assistant Hansi Flick, few at the club realised they had already found the answer to their prayers.

The former Bayern midfielder was only ever meant to be a stop-gap solution. Flick, however, had other ideas. And as he racked up win after win, the 55-year-old earned himself a permanent deal in April, ultimately ending the season as just the second German coach to mastermind a European Cup, league and domestic cup treble. No wonder that even Jürgen Klopp sounded envious after Bayern completed the set in the UEFA Champions League final. “It would be hard to write more history in eight months,” noted the Liverpool boss, scarcely an underachiever himself. It might be tempting to dwell on that historic success, but – true to his ambition – Flick is already looking ahead. From the “icing on the cake” of tonight’s UEFA Super Cup to a new season of trophy targets. 

How important is the Super Cup to you?

I can only tell you what others have told me who have already played in this competition. They’ve told me that this is the icing on the cake when you lift the trophy after a superb season. Our aim is clear that we want to win this game – I think the same applies to Sevilla as well.

What kind of game do you expect against Sevilla?

Sevilla impressed me very much. Inter Milan are a very strong team, especially in the Europa League matches. Sevilla made a great comeback in the final but played impressively before that. So, this will be a difficult game for us. Both teams had a short break and not very long to prepare, but I hope that we haven’t lost anything with regards to our endurance and fitness. After our tests, we’ve reached a very good level and we prepare well for every game. Obviously, now we start in the Bundesliga, which is very important for us. It is a new beginning. We are missing players like Philippe Coutinho, Álvaro Odriozola and Ivan Perišić, who unfortunately are not part of the squad. Maybe we will get new players, but I don’t know, because there will be changes and we don’t know what things will look like. But we will adapt and I think it’s a highlight when you win the UEFA Super Cup as a Champions League winner. 

Hansi Flick and Robert Lewandowski share a moment


What’s your tactical approach?

We want to have the ball. When the opposition have the ball, we have to be active; we want to actively win the ball. I think that’s been obvious throughout the games, how we want to act. And when we are in possession of the ball, we want to finish with determination; we don’t want to kick around. If there’s a possibility of creating a chance, of course we are going to do that. Apart from that, it’s always easier when you are in possession of the ball and when you can control the opposition. But if we lose the ball, of course we want to pressure the opponent.

When a player gives you tactical advice, do you listen?

I always listen and take everyone seriously. For me, that’s very important and that’s something I did as sporting director at the DFB [German Football Association]. I always said that in a meeting, every word is equally important, whether it comes from the sporting director, the coach, or the youth coaches. Every word is important and you can always say something. You can only benefit from being open-minded, and the players might then sometimes feel a little better about what is possible on the pitch. So, why should I be like, “Hey I’m the boss here!” just because I’m the coach? It’s about working together, and I am someone who expects and wants that from the team – that others point things out to me and contribute something. Sure, ultimately, it’s the coach who decides, but input from the players and the coaching staff can make decisions easier.

How important is the human side in this job? Could that be the most important aspect?

I don’t really know; I think that’s different for everybody. Everybody has a different approach to how they lead a team, especially as a coach. For me, it became very important after gaining so much experience over the years, even decades. I always say that there are three elements that are important in a team. First, there has to be trust and loyalty. Quality has to be there too, of course, whether from the coach or the players, and you have to have fun together. So yes, if those three conditions are met, I think you have a good chance of working successfully. 

The Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona was incredible to watch. Where did that intensity come from? You just kept going forward time and time again…

Well, there are several points. One of them goes back to the match against Borussia Dortmund in November, my second match. We wanted to be more offensive, to defend from the front, and there was one moment when a player asked me: “Coach, isn’t that a bit too dangerous?” And I said, “No, when we go through with it – and we can count on safeguarding at the back – we can get the ball in our possession.” And it worked well, and I think it was a sort of confirmation for the players that they could actually do it and that there was something to fall back on. Also, that unity is immensely important; that you defend together as a team, collectively, against the ball, not just individually. And I think those are things that just did us a lot of good and that the team has put into practice brilliantly. Against the ball, it was important that we already had somebody up front with Robert Lewandowski, who sets off certain impulses, and then at the back to have somebody like Manuel Neuer who, as the last man, has the backs of the central defenders and can save some situations with deep passes. And that’s how we did it.

Kingsley Coman scores Bayern's winner in Lisbon


Your choice to play Kingsley Coman in the final was surprising but, obviously, worked out well. Why did you make that decision?

In those positions, Kingsley and Philippe Coutinho just trained very well. And Kingsley was taught the game in Paris, and against your [former] club, you’re always a bit more motivated or your motivation is just up a notch – and then to score a goal is even better. But he also just showed us his quality as a player and that we can rely on him.  

How do you want to integrate Leroy Sané into the team?

Leroy is a player who opens up more options for us due to his ability to play in different positions. We will see, he hasn’t reached 100% yet. He’s close to it and it will take some time, but we will give him time to reach that. We are happy that he’s on our team now. 

How big will the challenge be to defend your Champions League title?

We had a perfect season. We won every game and didn’t lose a single one. Sure, it’s difficult to defend a trophy, but we accept the challenge and it’s one of our aims to get as far as possible in the Champions League, but we take one step at a time. In the end, even being proud of the team’s achievements, you focus on what is to come. And that is a new start, a new season, and a new team. And we need to prove ourselves again.

This article appears in the official UEFA Super Cup programme. You can order a print copy here now and read the digital version ahead of tonight’s match in Budapest.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

Back in November last year, Bayern München were in desperate shape. The perennial powerhouse of German football had just lost 5-1 to Frankfurt to find themselves fourth in the Bundesliga table. Something needed to be done, quickly. But in the rush to replace coach Niko Kovač with his assistant Hansi Flick, few at the club realised they had already found the answer to their prayers.

The former Bayern midfielder was only ever meant to be a stop-gap solution. Flick, however, had other ideas. And as he racked up win after win, the 55-year-old earned himself a permanent deal in April, ultimately ending the season as just the second German coach to mastermind a European Cup, league and domestic cup treble. No wonder that even Jürgen Klopp sounded envious after Bayern completed the set in the UEFA Champions League final. “It would be hard to write more history in eight months,” noted the Liverpool boss, scarcely an underachiever himself. It might be tempting to dwell on that historic success, but – true to his ambition – Flick is already looking ahead. From the “icing on the cake” of tonight’s UEFA Super Cup to a new season of trophy targets. 

How important is the Super Cup to you?

I can only tell you what others have told me who have already played in this competition. They’ve told me that this is the icing on the cake when you lift the trophy after a superb season. Our aim is clear that we want to win this game – I think the same applies to Sevilla as well.

What kind of game do you expect against Sevilla?

Sevilla impressed me very much. Inter Milan are a very strong team, especially in the Europa League matches. Sevilla made a great comeback in the final but played impressively before that. So, this will be a difficult game for us. Both teams had a short break and not very long to prepare, but I hope that we haven’t lost anything with regards to our endurance and fitness. After our tests, we’ve reached a very good level and we prepare well for every game. Obviously, now we start in the Bundesliga, which is very important for us. It is a new beginning. We are missing players like Philippe Coutinho, Álvaro Odriozola and Ivan Perišić, who unfortunately are not part of the squad. Maybe we will get new players, but I don’t know, because there will be changes and we don’t know what things will look like. But we will adapt and I think it’s a highlight when you win the UEFA Super Cup as a Champions League winner. 

Hansi Flick and Robert Lewandowski share a moment


What’s your tactical approach?

We want to have the ball. When the opposition have the ball, we have to be active; we want to actively win the ball. I think that’s been obvious throughout the games, how we want to act. And when we are in possession of the ball, we want to finish with determination; we don’t want to kick around. If there’s a possibility of creating a chance, of course we are going to do that. Apart from that, it’s always easier when you are in possession of the ball and when you can control the opposition. But if we lose the ball, of course we want to pressure the opponent.

When a player gives you tactical advice, do you listen?

I always listen and take everyone seriously. For me, that’s very important and that’s something I did as sporting director at the DFB [German Football Association]. I always said that in a meeting, every word is equally important, whether it comes from the sporting director, the coach, or the youth coaches. Every word is important and you can always say something. You can only benefit from being open-minded, and the players might then sometimes feel a little better about what is possible on the pitch. So, why should I be like, “Hey I’m the boss here!” just because I’m the coach? It’s about working together, and I am someone who expects and wants that from the team – that others point things out to me and contribute something. Sure, ultimately, it’s the coach who decides, but input from the players and the coaching staff can make decisions easier.

How important is the human side in this job? Could that be the most important aspect?

I don’t really know; I think that’s different for everybody. Everybody has a different approach to how they lead a team, especially as a coach. For me, it became very important after gaining so much experience over the years, even decades. I always say that there are three elements that are important in a team. First, there has to be trust and loyalty. Quality has to be there too, of course, whether from the coach or the players, and you have to have fun together. So yes, if those three conditions are met, I think you have a good chance of working successfully. 

The Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona was incredible to watch. Where did that intensity come from? You just kept going forward time and time again…

Well, there are several points. One of them goes back to the match against Borussia Dortmund in November, my second match. We wanted to be more offensive, to defend from the front, and there was one moment when a player asked me: “Coach, isn’t that a bit too dangerous?” And I said, “No, when we go through with it – and we can count on safeguarding at the back – we can get the ball in our possession.” And it worked well, and I think it was a sort of confirmation for the players that they could actually do it and that there was something to fall back on. Also, that unity is immensely important; that you defend together as a team, collectively, against the ball, not just individually. And I think those are things that just did us a lot of good and that the team has put into practice brilliantly. Against the ball, it was important that we already had somebody up front with Robert Lewandowski, who sets off certain impulses, and then at the back to have somebody like Manuel Neuer who, as the last man, has the backs of the central defenders and can save some situations with deep passes. And that’s how we did it.

Kingsley Coman scores Bayern's winner in Lisbon


Your choice to play Kingsley Coman in the final was surprising but, obviously, worked out well. Why did you make that decision?

In those positions, Kingsley and Philippe Coutinho just trained very well. And Kingsley was taught the game in Paris, and against your [former] club, you’re always a bit more motivated or your motivation is just up a notch – and then to score a goal is even better. But he also just showed us his quality as a player and that we can rely on him.  

How do you want to integrate Leroy Sané into the team?

Leroy is a player who opens up more options for us due to his ability to play in different positions. We will see, he hasn’t reached 100% yet. He’s close to it and it will take some time, but we will give him time to reach that. We are happy that he’s on our team now. 

How big will the challenge be to defend your Champions League title?

We had a perfect season. We won every game and didn’t lose a single one. Sure, it’s difficult to defend a trophy, but we accept the challenge and it’s one of our aims to get as far as possible in the Champions League, but we take one step at a time. In the end, even being proud of the team’s achievements, you focus on what is to come. And that is a new start, a new season, and a new team. And we need to prove ourselves again.

This article appears in the official UEFA Super Cup programme. You can order a print copy here now and read the digital version ahead of tonight’s match in Budapest.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

Back in November last year, Bayern München were in desperate shape. The perennial powerhouse of German football had just lost 5-1 to Frankfurt to find themselves fourth in the Bundesliga table. Something needed to be done, quickly. But in the rush to replace coach Niko Kovač with his assistant Hansi Flick, few at the club realised they had already found the answer to their prayers.

The former Bayern midfielder was only ever meant to be a stop-gap solution. Flick, however, had other ideas. And as he racked up win after win, the 55-year-old earned himself a permanent deal in April, ultimately ending the season as just the second German coach to mastermind a European Cup, league and domestic cup treble. No wonder that even Jürgen Klopp sounded envious after Bayern completed the set in the UEFA Champions League final. “It would be hard to write more history in eight months,” noted the Liverpool boss, scarcely an underachiever himself. It might be tempting to dwell on that historic success, but – true to his ambition – Flick is already looking ahead. From the “icing on the cake” of tonight’s UEFA Super Cup to a new season of trophy targets. 

How important is the Super Cup to you?

I can only tell you what others have told me who have already played in this competition. They’ve told me that this is the icing on the cake when you lift the trophy after a superb season. Our aim is clear that we want to win this game – I think the same applies to Sevilla as well.

What kind of game do you expect against Sevilla?

Sevilla impressed me very much. Inter Milan are a very strong team, especially in the Europa League matches. Sevilla made a great comeback in the final but played impressively before that. So, this will be a difficult game for us. Both teams had a short break and not very long to prepare, but I hope that we haven’t lost anything with regards to our endurance and fitness. After our tests, we’ve reached a very good level and we prepare well for every game. Obviously, now we start in the Bundesliga, which is very important for us. It is a new beginning. We are missing players like Philippe Coutinho, Álvaro Odriozola and Ivan Perišić, who unfortunately are not part of the squad. Maybe we will get new players, but I don’t know, because there will be changes and we don’t know what things will look like. But we will adapt and I think it’s a highlight when you win the UEFA Super Cup as a Champions League winner. 

Hansi Flick and Robert Lewandowski share a moment


What’s your tactical approach?

We want to have the ball. When the opposition have the ball, we have to be active; we want to actively win the ball. I think that’s been obvious throughout the games, how we want to act. And when we are in possession of the ball, we want to finish with determination; we don’t want to kick around. If there’s a possibility of creating a chance, of course we are going to do that. Apart from that, it’s always easier when you are in possession of the ball and when you can control the opposition. But if we lose the ball, of course we want to pressure the opponent.

When a player gives you tactical advice, do you listen?

I always listen and take everyone seriously. For me, that’s very important and that’s something I did as sporting director at the DFB [German Football Association]. I always said that in a meeting, every word is equally important, whether it comes from the sporting director, the coach, or the youth coaches. Every word is important and you can always say something. You can only benefit from being open-minded, and the players might then sometimes feel a little better about what is possible on the pitch. So, why should I be like, “Hey I’m the boss here!” just because I’m the coach? It’s about working together, and I am someone who expects and wants that from the team – that others point things out to me and contribute something. Sure, ultimately, it’s the coach who decides, but input from the players and the coaching staff can make decisions easier.

How important is the human side in this job? Could that be the most important aspect?

I don’t really know; I think that’s different for everybody. Everybody has a different approach to how they lead a team, especially as a coach. For me, it became very important after gaining so much experience over the years, even decades. I always say that there are three elements that are important in a team. First, there has to be trust and loyalty. Quality has to be there too, of course, whether from the coach or the players, and you have to have fun together. So yes, if those three conditions are met, I think you have a good chance of working successfully. 

The Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona was incredible to watch. Where did that intensity come from? You just kept going forward time and time again…

Well, there are several points. One of them goes back to the match against Borussia Dortmund in November, my second match. We wanted to be more offensive, to defend from the front, and there was one moment when a player asked me: “Coach, isn’t that a bit too dangerous?” And I said, “No, when we go through with it – and we can count on safeguarding at the back – we can get the ball in our possession.” And it worked well, and I think it was a sort of confirmation for the players that they could actually do it and that there was something to fall back on. Also, that unity is immensely important; that you defend together as a team, collectively, against the ball, not just individually. And I think those are things that just did us a lot of good and that the team has put into practice brilliantly. Against the ball, it was important that we already had somebody up front with Robert Lewandowski, who sets off certain impulses, and then at the back to have somebody like Manuel Neuer who, as the last man, has the backs of the central defenders and can save some situations with deep passes. And that’s how we did it.

Kingsley Coman scores Bayern's winner in Lisbon


Your choice to play Kingsley Coman in the final was surprising but, obviously, worked out well. Why did you make that decision?

In those positions, Kingsley and Philippe Coutinho just trained very well. And Kingsley was taught the game in Paris, and against your [former] club, you’re always a bit more motivated or your motivation is just up a notch – and then to score a goal is even better. But he also just showed us his quality as a player and that we can rely on him.  

How do you want to integrate Leroy Sané into the team?

Leroy is a player who opens up more options for us due to his ability to play in different positions. We will see, he hasn’t reached 100% yet. He’s close to it and it will take some time, but we will give him time to reach that. We are happy that he’s on our team now. 

How big will the challenge be to defend your Champions League title?

We had a perfect season. We won every game and didn’t lose a single one. Sure, it’s difficult to defend a trophy, but we accept the challenge and it’s one of our aims to get as far as possible in the Champions League, but we take one step at a time. In the end, even being proud of the team’s achievements, you focus on what is to come. And that is a new start, a new season, and a new team. And we need to prove ourselves again.

This article appears in the official UEFA Super Cup programme. You can order a print copy here now and read the digital version ahead of tonight’s match in Budapest.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

To access this article, as well as all CJ+ content and competitions, you will need a subscription to Champions Journal.
Already a subscriber? Sign in
close