Column

Klinsmann: The Column

As we reach the business end of the season, it’s time for leaders and game-changers to hit their peak and come to the fore

Warning shot

Mbappé signals Paris are for real

This is the moment when you’re looking for leadership, for the guys who are the difference-makers, the ones that carry the energy. It’s always easy to jump on the bandwagon when you’re leading 1-0; when everything is going perfectly, everybody plays perfectly. But what about the key moment – what happens if you fall behind? It’ll be really interesting to see who will make the difference, who is really carrying the flag for each club.

The rise of Kylian Mbappé in those two games against Bayern was just wonderful to see, as was such an energised Neymar in the return leg. Mbappé really rose to the occasion. He sent out a signal: “This is PSG – now it’s our turn.” He signalled that in a very positive way with his body language. Neymar shared Mbappé’s energy, delivering even though he didn’t score (though he did hit the post three times). You could see that they were both on the same page: both wanting to make sure they went through against one of the best teams in the world. They gave everything they had in those two games.

Younger players look up to the big shots to calm everybody down and keep everyone disciplined. That’s why I look at Neymar especially. Is there any reaction to the consistent fouling? Does he take offence to the referee or an opponent? But he was very focused. Nothing could get to him in the second leg against Bayern and that’s a huge sign for Paris that they are in control. And I think they can go all the way.

Smell of success

Pressure and pleasure go hand in hand

The top six or eight players in the world know that everybody expects them to step up when it really matters – and when it matters is now. Those players have been waiting for this couple of weeks of high intensity. This is when you play for everything. Top guys like Neymar, and Karim Benzema at Real Madrid, are very much aware of it. They can smell it now. They’re getting really hungry and they want to win it.

The players probably demand far more from themselves than the media or fans do actually. And obviously winning when the stakes are higher means that you enjoy it more. The bigger occasions – with the expectation from the fans and from everyone else, for that matter – lifts you, because that’s when you’re playing in the games you’ve dreamt about: semi- finals and finals.

When it suddenly comes around and you’re in the final of a European Championship, or the World Cup, or a European Cup, that’s when you really take it all in. You suck it all up and say, “Yes, this is what the game is all about.” This couple of weeks is stressful and very demanding on these players, but also very enjoyable.

Warning shot

Mbappé signals Paris are for real

This is the moment when you’re looking for leadership, for the guys who are the difference-makers, the ones that carry the energy. It’s always easy to jump on the bandwagon when you’re leading 1-0; when everything is going perfectly, everybody plays perfectly. But what about the key moment – what happens if you fall behind? It’ll be really interesting to see who will make the difference, who is really carrying the flag for each club.

The rise of Kylian Mbappé in those two games against Bayern was just wonderful to see, as was such an energised Neymar in the return leg. Mbappé really rose to the occasion. He sent out a signal: “This is PSG – now it’s our turn.” He signalled that in a very positive way with his body language. Neymar shared Mbappé’s energy, delivering even though he didn’t score (though he did hit the post three times). You could see that they were both on the same page: both wanting to make sure they went through against one of the best teams in the world. They gave everything they had in those two games.

Younger players look up to the big shots to calm everybody down and keep everyone disciplined. That’s why I look at Neymar especially. Is there any reaction to the consistent fouling? Does he take offence to the referee or an opponent? But he was very focused. Nothing could get to him in the second leg against Bayern and that’s a huge sign for Paris that they are in control. And I think they can go all the way.

Smell of success

Pressure and pleasure go hand in hand

The top six or eight players in the world know that everybody expects them to step up when it really matters – and when it matters is now. Those players have been waiting for this couple of weeks of high intensity. This is when you play for everything. Top guys like Neymar, and Karim Benzema at Real Madrid, are very much aware of it. They can smell it now. They’re getting really hungry and they want to win it.

The players probably demand far more from themselves than the media or fans do actually. And obviously winning when the stakes are higher means that you enjoy it more. The bigger occasions – with the expectation from the fans and from everyone else, for that matter – lifts you, because that’s when you’re playing in the games you’ve dreamt about: semi- finals and finals.

When it suddenly comes around and you’re in the final of a European Championship, or the World Cup, or a European Cup, that’s when you really take it all in. You suck it all up and say, “Yes, this is what the game is all about.” This couple of weeks is stressful and very demanding on these players, but also very enjoyable.

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!

Focus, focus, focus

Don’t let your guard down

Coaching right now involves a lot less on the pitch in terms of physical or technical work, because that’s all been done throughout the year. It’s all been worked on already. At this point the key work for a coach is to balance the energy field and to balance expectations.

And that’s not just his direct work with the players but also with the entire staff, the people who are working with the players day in, day out. Now that it’s crunch time it’s really, really crucial that not only your players stay focused every day but also everyone from the physios and the bus driver to the kit manager and the media office, and so on.

“TOP PLAYERS CAN SMELL IT NOW. THEY’RE GETTING REALLY HUNGRY AND THEY WANT TO WIN IT”


It’s an environment where you’re talking about 25 to 30 people working around the players who need to have the same attitude and focus. If they lose that – if they suddenly go out for a beer too many or whatever – then you run the risk that your players will start relaxing too much. So it’s a tremendous amount of work for the coach.

The art in this whole process is to just be constantly looking to the next training session, to the next game, and to keep your focus consistent during the entire period. With training sessions in particular, it’s all about the recovery work in between. You have to be sensitive about your lifestyle because you want to peak at the right time so that you can win this amazing trophy.

Hitting your peak

Zidane: the master of perfect timing

Every player feels the tension as it starts to rise at this stage of the Champions League. It’s crunch time. The toughest part as a manager is to make sure that your team is peaking now. It’s all about energy. At the big clubs like Paris, Manchester City, Bayern and Real Madrid, you’re expected to be there at the end of the year. Going through the group stage and even the round of 16 is the minimum they expect from themselves – and what the fans expect from them. But once you get into the final eight, then it’s all about timing.

As a player you have to make sure that that you rise to the occasion; that you are really sharp and in the best shape possible when it really matters. After that, small details can decide games. Bayern, for instance, did everything to make it happen against Paris, but the timing of injuries and illness to players such as Robert Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry, Leon Goretzka and Jérôme Boateng can destroy your whole season. You know that you just cannot play at the same level as a year before, when everybody was fit.

The team that has become really dangerous is Real Madrid, because they’ve done it so quietly for the entire campaign and they know when to peak. No one’s better at timing that run than Zinédine Zidane, because he’s done it so many times as a player and a coach. Madrid are in a very good spot right now. There’s no doubt that Manchester City have the quality and the players to win the Champions League, but it’s all about that timing.

Then there’s Chelsea. It’s a team that’s full of quality but, in certain areas, a bit inexperienced, especially in the attacking positions. They’re very young there unless Olivier Giroud is playing, but Thomas Tuchel usually plays with those youngsters Christian Pulišić, Kai Havertz and Mason Mount. They can have a great day, but they can also have a bad day. It’s going to be interesting!

Warning shot

Mbappé signals Paris are for real

This is the moment when you’re looking for leadership, for the guys who are the difference-makers, the ones that carry the energy. It’s always easy to jump on the bandwagon when you’re leading 1-0; when everything is going perfectly, everybody plays perfectly. But what about the key moment – what happens if you fall behind? It’ll be really interesting to see who will make the difference, who is really carrying the flag for each club.

The rise of Kylian Mbappé in those two games against Bayern was just wonderful to see, as was such an energised Neymar in the return leg. Mbappé really rose to the occasion. He sent out a signal: “This is PSG – now it’s our turn.” He signalled that in a very positive way with his body language. Neymar shared Mbappé’s energy, delivering even though he didn’t score (though he did hit the post three times). You could see that they were both on the same page: both wanting to make sure they went through against one of the best teams in the world. They gave everything they had in those two games.

Younger players look up to the big shots to calm everybody down and keep everyone disciplined. That’s why I look at Neymar especially. Is there any reaction to the consistent fouling? Does he take offence to the referee or an opponent? But he was very focused. Nothing could get to him in the second leg against Bayern and that’s a huge sign for Paris that they are in control. And I think they can go all the way.

Smell of success

Pressure and pleasure go hand in hand

The top six or eight players in the world know that everybody expects them to step up when it really matters – and when it matters is now. Those players have been waiting for this couple of weeks of high intensity. This is when you play for everything. Top guys like Neymar, and Karim Benzema at Real Madrid, are very much aware of it. They can smell it now. They’re getting really hungry and they want to win it.

The players probably demand far more from themselves than the media or fans do actually. And obviously winning when the stakes are higher means that you enjoy it more. The bigger occasions – with the expectation from the fans and from everyone else, for that matter – lifts you, because that’s when you’re playing in the games you’ve dreamt about: semi- finals and finals.

When it suddenly comes around and you’re in the final of a European Championship, or the World Cup, or a European Cup, that’s when you really take it all in. You suck it all up and say, “Yes, this is what the game is all about.” This couple of weeks is stressful and very demanding on these players, but also very enjoyable.

Klinsmann: The Column
Column

Klinsmann: The Column

As we reach the business end of the season, it’s time for leaders and game-changers to hit their peak and come to the fore

Warning shot

Mbappé signals Paris are for real

This is the moment when you’re looking for leadership, for the guys who are the difference-makers, the ones that carry the energy. It’s always easy to jump on the bandwagon when you’re leading 1-0; when everything is going perfectly, everybody plays perfectly. But what about the key moment – what happens if you fall behind? It’ll be really interesting to see who will make the difference, who is really carrying the flag for each club.

The rise of Kylian Mbappé in those two games against Bayern was just wonderful to see, as was such an energised Neymar in the return leg. Mbappé really rose to the occasion. He sent out a signal: “This is PSG – now it’s our turn.” He signalled that in a very positive way with his body language. Neymar shared Mbappé’s energy, delivering even though he didn’t score (though he did hit the post three times). You could see that they were both on the same page: both wanting to make sure they went through against one of the best teams in the world. They gave everything they had in those two games.

Younger players look up to the big shots to calm everybody down and keep everyone disciplined. That’s why I look at Neymar especially. Is there any reaction to the consistent fouling? Does he take offence to the referee or an opponent? But he was very focused. Nothing could get to him in the second leg against Bayern and that’s a huge sign for Paris that they are in control. And I think they can go all the way.

Smell of success

Pressure and pleasure go hand in hand

The top six or eight players in the world know that everybody expects them to step up when it really matters – and when it matters is now. Those players have been waiting for this couple of weeks of high intensity. This is when you play for everything. Top guys like Neymar, and Karim Benzema at Real Madrid, are very much aware of it. They can smell it now. They’re getting really hungry and they want to win it.

The players probably demand far more from themselves than the media or fans do actually. And obviously winning when the stakes are higher means that you enjoy it more. The bigger occasions – with the expectation from the fans and from everyone else, for that matter – lifts you, because that’s when you’re playing in the games you’ve dreamt about: semi- finals and finals.

When it suddenly comes around and you’re in the final of a European Championship, or the World Cup, or a European Cup, that’s when you really take it all in. You suck it all up and say, “Yes, this is what the game is all about.” This couple of weeks is stressful and very demanding on these players, but also very enjoyable.

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.

Warning shot

Mbappé signals Paris are for real

This is the moment when you’re looking for leadership, for the guys who are the difference-makers, the ones that carry the energy. It’s always easy to jump on the bandwagon when you’re leading 1-0; when everything is going perfectly, everybody plays perfectly. But what about the key moment – what happens if you fall behind? It’ll be really interesting to see who will make the difference, who is really carrying the flag for each club.

The rise of Kylian Mbappé in those two games against Bayern was just wonderful to see, as was such an energised Neymar in the return leg. Mbappé really rose to the occasion. He sent out a signal: “This is PSG – now it’s our turn.” He signalled that in a very positive way with his body language. Neymar shared Mbappé’s energy, delivering even though he didn’t score (though he did hit the post three times). You could see that they were both on the same page: both wanting to make sure they went through against one of the best teams in the world. They gave everything they had in those two games.

Younger players look up to the big shots to calm everybody down and keep everyone disciplined. That’s why I look at Neymar especially. Is there any reaction to the consistent fouling? Does he take offence to the referee or an opponent? But he was very focused. Nothing could get to him in the second leg against Bayern and that’s a huge sign for Paris that they are in control. And I think they can go all the way.

Smell of success

Pressure and pleasure go hand in hand

The top six or eight players in the world know that everybody expects them to step up when it really matters – and when it matters is now. Those players have been waiting for this couple of weeks of high intensity. This is when you play for everything. Top guys like Neymar, and Karim Benzema at Real Madrid, are very much aware of it. They can smell it now. They’re getting really hungry and they want to win it.

The players probably demand far more from themselves than the media or fans do actually. And obviously winning when the stakes are higher means that you enjoy it more. The bigger occasions – with the expectation from the fans and from everyone else, for that matter – lifts you, because that’s when you’re playing in the games you’ve dreamt about: semi- finals and finals.

When it suddenly comes around and you’re in the final of a European Championship, or the World Cup, or a European Cup, that’s when you really take it all in. You suck it all up and say, “Yes, this is what the game is all about.” This couple of weeks is stressful and very demanding on these players, but also very enjoyable.

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!

Focus, focus, focus

Don’t let your guard down

Coaching right now involves a lot less on the pitch in terms of physical or technical work, because that’s all been done throughout the year. It’s all been worked on already. At this point the key work for a coach is to balance the energy field and to balance expectations.

And that’s not just his direct work with the players but also with the entire staff, the people who are working with the players day in, day out. Now that it’s crunch time it’s really, really crucial that not only your players stay focused every day but also everyone from the physios and the bus driver to the kit manager and the media office, and so on.

“TOP PLAYERS CAN SMELL IT NOW. THEY’RE GETTING REALLY HUNGRY AND THEY WANT TO WIN IT”


It’s an environment where you’re talking about 25 to 30 people working around the players who need to have the same attitude and focus. If they lose that – if they suddenly go out for a beer too many or whatever – then you run the risk that your players will start relaxing too much. So it’s a tremendous amount of work for the coach.

The art in this whole process is to just be constantly looking to the next training session, to the next game, and to keep your focus consistent during the entire period. With training sessions in particular, it’s all about the recovery work in between. You have to be sensitive about your lifestyle because you want to peak at the right time so that you can win this amazing trophy.

Hitting your peak

Zidane: the master of perfect timing

Every player feels the tension as it starts to rise at this stage of the Champions League. It’s crunch time. The toughest part as a manager is to make sure that your team is peaking now. It’s all about energy. At the big clubs like Paris, Manchester City, Bayern and Real Madrid, you’re expected to be there at the end of the year. Going through the group stage and even the round of 16 is the minimum they expect from themselves – and what the fans expect from them. But once you get into the final eight, then it’s all about timing.

As a player you have to make sure that that you rise to the occasion; that you are really sharp and in the best shape possible when it really matters. After that, small details can decide games. Bayern, for instance, did everything to make it happen against Paris, but the timing of injuries and illness to players such as Robert Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry, Leon Goretzka and Jérôme Boateng can destroy your whole season. You know that you just cannot play at the same level as a year before, when everybody was fit.

The team that has become really dangerous is Real Madrid, because they’ve done it so quietly for the entire campaign and they know when to peak. No one’s better at timing that run than Zinédine Zidane, because he’s done it so many times as a player and a coach. Madrid are in a very good spot right now. There’s no doubt that Manchester City have the quality and the players to win the Champions League, but it’s all about that timing.

Then there’s Chelsea. It’s a team that’s full of quality but, in certain areas, a bit inexperienced, especially in the attacking positions. They’re very young there unless Olivier Giroud is playing, but Thomas Tuchel usually plays with those youngsters Christian Pulišić, Kai Havertz and Mason Mount. They can have a great day, but they can also have a bad day. It’s going to be interesting!

Warning shot

Mbappé signals Paris are for real

This is the moment when you’re looking for leadership, for the guys who are the difference-makers, the ones that carry the energy. It’s always easy to jump on the bandwagon when you’re leading 1-0; when everything is going perfectly, everybody plays perfectly. But what about the key moment – what happens if you fall behind? It’ll be really interesting to see who will make the difference, who is really carrying the flag for each club.

The rise of Kylian Mbappé in those two games against Bayern was just wonderful to see, as was such an energised Neymar in the return leg. Mbappé really rose to the occasion. He sent out a signal: “This is PSG – now it’s our turn.” He signalled that in a very positive way with his body language. Neymar shared Mbappé’s energy, delivering even though he didn’t score (though he did hit the post three times). You could see that they were both on the same page: both wanting to make sure they went through against one of the best teams in the world. They gave everything they had in those two games.

Younger players look up to the big shots to calm everybody down and keep everyone disciplined. That’s why I look at Neymar especially. Is there any reaction to the consistent fouling? Does he take offence to the referee or an opponent? But he was very focused. Nothing could get to him in the second leg against Bayern and that’s a huge sign for Paris that they are in control. And I think they can go all the way.

Smell of success

Pressure and pleasure go hand in hand

The top six or eight players in the world know that everybody expects them to step up when it really matters – and when it matters is now. Those players have been waiting for this couple of weeks of high intensity. This is when you play for everything. Top guys like Neymar, and Karim Benzema at Real Madrid, are very much aware of it. They can smell it now. They’re getting really hungry and they want to win it.

The players probably demand far more from themselves than the media or fans do actually. And obviously winning when the stakes are higher means that you enjoy it more. The bigger occasions – with the expectation from the fans and from everyone else, for that matter – lifts you, because that’s when you’re playing in the games you’ve dreamt about: semi- finals and finals.

When it suddenly comes around and you’re in the final of a European Championship, or the World Cup, or a European Cup, that’s when you really take it all in. You suck it all up and say, “Yes, this is what the game is all about.” This couple of weeks is stressful and very demanding on these players, but also very enjoyable.

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.

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