Column

Klinsmann: The Column

Tuchel, Haaland, De Bruyne: Klinsmann reflects on 2020/21 and considers next season, not least the outlook for ex-club Bayern

So near, yet so far

Guardiola still deserves credit

Pep Guardiola had an outstanding year. The way he had his team playing flowing football and the way he mixed things up – sometimes with a number nine, sometimes without – was very, very enjoyable. He won the Premier League and you thought he was going to cash in on the Champions League for the first time with City. He deserved to be coach of the year, but then Thomas Tuchel won it on the day. Tuchel came in late after Frank Lampard had laid the foundations, but the way he’s put his stamp on the team has been fantastic. Huge, huge, huge compliments to Tuchel, but over the entire stretch of the competition I would make Guardiola my Champions League coach of the season.

Time’s right for Tuchel

German’s system works for Chelsea

I wasn’t surprised to see Chelsea win in Porto because of the way Tuchel prepares his team. Defensively they are very organised and don’t allow the opponent much. That was key from the beginning of his work at Chelsea. He built a very solid and strong defensive foundation and then added the attacking pieces to it. It’s a very different approach to that of Guardiola, who has six free-flowing players in the midfield and attack. Tuchel has six or seven very strong defensively minded players and then three floaters up front – sometimes with a number nine like Timo Werner, sometimes using other elements – and it worked out great for Chelsea. So I wasn’t surprised that they get a shot at the Champions League title because if you don’t allow any goals to go in, sooner or later you’ll score – and that’s what Chelsea did. For me the player of the season is N’Golo Kanté. If you have him in your team you can win anything.

Just the beginning

More to come from Haaland?

Erling Haaland has made such a strong impression. We’ve been talking about him constantly over the past year and now because of all the speculation: where will he go if he leaves Dortmund? And he’s not even fully developed; he’s not a complete player yet. At such a young age he is so driven and so, so focused. We all admire Kylian Mbappé; he’s won a World Cup already and is an absolute star for Paris Saint-Germain. So when you compare those two players, Mbappé is already 98% there, whereas Haaland is still raw – in a positive sense. He is at 80% maybe and whoever gets to work with him over the next couple of years can improve that remaining 20%. And that is huge. Look at the number of goals he’s scored and yet there’s still so much more to come. It’s been a breakout year for him and now I’m so curious to see how far he can go.

So near, yet so far

Guardiola still deserves credit

Pep Guardiola had an outstanding year. The way he had his team playing flowing football and the way he mixed things up – sometimes with a number nine, sometimes without – was very, very enjoyable. He won the Premier League and you thought he was going to cash in on the Champions League for the first time with City. He deserved to be coach of the year, but then Thomas Tuchel won it on the day. Tuchel came in late after Frank Lampard had laid the foundations, but the way he’s put his stamp on the team has been fantastic. Huge, huge, huge compliments to Tuchel, but over the entire stretch of the competition I would make Guardiola my Champions League coach of the season.

Time’s right for Tuchel

German’s system works for Chelsea

I wasn’t surprised to see Chelsea win in Porto because of the way Tuchel prepares his team. Defensively they are very organised and don’t allow the opponent much. That was key from the beginning of his work at Chelsea. He built a very solid and strong defensive foundation and then added the attacking pieces to it. It’s a very different approach to that of Guardiola, who has six free-flowing players in the midfield and attack. Tuchel has six or seven very strong defensively minded players and then three floaters up front – sometimes with a number nine like Timo Werner, sometimes using other elements – and it worked out great for Chelsea. So I wasn’t surprised that they get a shot at the Champions League title because if you don’t allow any goals to go in, sooner or later you’ll score – and that’s what Chelsea did. For me the player of the season is N’Golo Kanté. If you have him in your team you can win anything.

Just the beginning

More to come from Haaland?

Erling Haaland has made such a strong impression. We’ve been talking about him constantly over the past year and now because of all the speculation: where will he go if he leaves Dortmund? And he’s not even fully developed; he’s not a complete player yet. At such a young age he is so driven and so, so focused. We all admire Kylian Mbappé; he’s won a World Cup already and is an absolute star for Paris Saint-Germain. So when you compare those two players, Mbappé is already 98% there, whereas Haaland is still raw – in a positive sense. He is at 80% maybe and whoever gets to work with him over the next couple of years can improve that remaining 20%. And that is huge. Look at the number of goals he’s scored and yet there’s still so much more to come. It’s been a breakout year for him and now I’m so curious to see how far he can go.

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!

The game-changers

De Bruyne leads the way

I’m a huge Kevin De Bruyne fan because he looks for solutions with every move he makes, every pass he plays and all the one-on-ones he goes for. He’s fearless – he runs at people. I love players who just take the ball and go for it. That’s what makes De Bruyne and Mbappé different from many other players: they take people on at any given second. Romelu Lukaku and Haaland can do that too. But De Bruyne, maybe since the World Cup in Russia, has become almost the complete player. He links up so well.

Thomas Müller is another at Bayern, always looking for Robert Lewandowski. Paul Pogba is also fascinating: you see what he does for France and you’re looking for that with United. Sometimes it’s player chemistry or a system that allows you to get the most out of your game. When Pogba is backed by Kanté he’s a different Pogba from the one who plays for United. He has different players around him in the French team and I don’t mean that negatively, it just makes a difference to him personally.


Case for the defence

Upamecano boosts Bayern

Dayot Upamecano is a fantastic talent. Like Haaland, he still isn’t quite the finished product. You could see he showed some nerves the moment they announced his transfer; he lost a little bit of his consistency. He was probably emotionally overwhelmed and that’s all good – he’s human. But he can become a leader of the Bayern defence for many years to come.

Incidentally, in that transfer you see the psychology of the game: Bayern basically killed Leipzig with that transfer. And as if that wasn’t enough, they take their coach Julian Nagelsmann as well. But they’ve been doing that to their main rivals in Germany for the past 30 years.


People person

Nagelsmann’s know-how

Nagelsmann is a very young coach with a tremendous amount of knowledge and he’s a tremendous people manager, similar to Hansi Flick. He’s on the same wavelength as the players, which is crucial for a modern manager. The players are so well educated coming through the academy systems in the top footballing nations that you don’t need to explain to them how to step out or what to do after you lose the ball. They’ve already got all that knowledge from playing for the youth teams.

That makes it a lot easier for the managers of the big clubs to concentrate on: “How do I handle Mbappé and Neymar? How do I handle Benzema? How do I handle Lewandowski?” All these tremendous big, big players. They all have their own support system: maybe a personal doctor, personal physiotherapist, personal fitness trainer. They have agents who play a major role in their lives. The coach has to take all of that into consideration when thinking about how to communicate with these super athletes.

Nagelsmann has done a tremendous job in the past couple of years, first in Hoffenheim and then in Leipzig. He is a highly talented coach and now he has to prove himself at a club with very big names who are in control of the landscape there. It will be interesting to see how he gets on.

So near, yet so far

Guardiola still deserves credit

Pep Guardiola had an outstanding year. The way he had his team playing flowing football and the way he mixed things up – sometimes with a number nine, sometimes without – was very, very enjoyable. He won the Premier League and you thought he was going to cash in on the Champions League for the first time with City. He deserved to be coach of the year, but then Thomas Tuchel won it on the day. Tuchel came in late after Frank Lampard had laid the foundations, but the way he’s put his stamp on the team has been fantastic. Huge, huge, huge compliments to Tuchel, but over the entire stretch of the competition I would make Guardiola my Champions League coach of the season.

Time’s right for Tuchel

German’s system works for Chelsea

I wasn’t surprised to see Chelsea win in Porto because of the way Tuchel prepares his team. Defensively they are very organised and don’t allow the opponent much. That was key from the beginning of his work at Chelsea. He built a very solid and strong defensive foundation and then added the attacking pieces to it. It’s a very different approach to that of Guardiola, who has six free-flowing players in the midfield and attack. Tuchel has six or seven very strong defensively minded players and then three floaters up front – sometimes with a number nine like Timo Werner, sometimes using other elements – and it worked out great for Chelsea. So I wasn’t surprised that they get a shot at the Champions League title because if you don’t allow any goals to go in, sooner or later you’ll score – and that’s what Chelsea did. For me the player of the season is N’Golo Kanté. If you have him in your team you can win anything.

Just the beginning

More to come from Haaland?

Erling Haaland has made such a strong impression. We’ve been talking about him constantly over the past year and now because of all the speculation: where will he go if he leaves Dortmund? And he’s not even fully developed; he’s not a complete player yet. At such a young age he is so driven and so, so focused. We all admire Kylian Mbappé; he’s won a World Cup already and is an absolute star for Paris Saint-Germain. So when you compare those two players, Mbappé is already 98% there, whereas Haaland is still raw – in a positive sense. He is at 80% maybe and whoever gets to work with him over the next couple of years can improve that remaining 20%. And that is huge. Look at the number of goals he’s scored and yet there’s still so much more to come. It’s been a breakout year for him and now I’m so curious to see how far he can go.

Klinsmann: The Column
Column

Klinsmann: The Column

Tuchel, Haaland, De Bruyne: Klinsmann reflects on 2020/21 and considers next season, not least the outlook for ex-club Bayern

So near, yet so far

Guardiola still deserves credit

Pep Guardiola had an outstanding year. The way he had his team playing flowing football and the way he mixed things up – sometimes with a number nine, sometimes without – was very, very enjoyable. He won the Premier League and you thought he was going to cash in on the Champions League for the first time with City. He deserved to be coach of the year, but then Thomas Tuchel won it on the day. Tuchel came in late after Frank Lampard had laid the foundations, but the way he’s put his stamp on the team has been fantastic. Huge, huge, huge compliments to Tuchel, but over the entire stretch of the competition I would make Guardiola my Champions League coach of the season.

Time’s right for Tuchel

German’s system works for Chelsea

I wasn’t surprised to see Chelsea win in Porto because of the way Tuchel prepares his team. Defensively they are very organised and don’t allow the opponent much. That was key from the beginning of his work at Chelsea. He built a very solid and strong defensive foundation and then added the attacking pieces to it. It’s a very different approach to that of Guardiola, who has six free-flowing players in the midfield and attack. Tuchel has six or seven very strong defensively minded players and then three floaters up front – sometimes with a number nine like Timo Werner, sometimes using other elements – and it worked out great for Chelsea. So I wasn’t surprised that they get a shot at the Champions League title because if you don’t allow any goals to go in, sooner or later you’ll score – and that’s what Chelsea did. For me the player of the season is N’Golo Kanté. If you have him in your team you can win anything.

Just the beginning

More to come from Haaland?

Erling Haaland has made such a strong impression. We’ve been talking about him constantly over the past year and now because of all the speculation: where will he go if he leaves Dortmund? And he’s not even fully developed; he’s not a complete player yet. At such a young age he is so driven and so, so focused. We all admire Kylian Mbappé; he’s won a World Cup already and is an absolute star for Paris Saint-Germain. So when you compare those two players, Mbappé is already 98% there, whereas Haaland is still raw – in a positive sense. He is at 80% maybe and whoever gets to work with him over the next couple of years can improve that remaining 20%. And that is huge. Look at the number of goals he’s scored and yet there’s still so much more to come. It’s been a breakout year for him and now I’m so curious to see how far he can go.

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.

So near, yet so far

Guardiola still deserves credit

Pep Guardiola had an outstanding year. The way he had his team playing flowing football and the way he mixed things up – sometimes with a number nine, sometimes without – was very, very enjoyable. He won the Premier League and you thought he was going to cash in on the Champions League for the first time with City. He deserved to be coach of the year, but then Thomas Tuchel won it on the day. Tuchel came in late after Frank Lampard had laid the foundations, but the way he’s put his stamp on the team has been fantastic. Huge, huge, huge compliments to Tuchel, but over the entire stretch of the competition I would make Guardiola my Champions League coach of the season.

Time’s right for Tuchel

German’s system works for Chelsea

I wasn’t surprised to see Chelsea win in Porto because of the way Tuchel prepares his team. Defensively they are very organised and don’t allow the opponent much. That was key from the beginning of his work at Chelsea. He built a very solid and strong defensive foundation and then added the attacking pieces to it. It’s a very different approach to that of Guardiola, who has six free-flowing players in the midfield and attack. Tuchel has six or seven very strong defensively minded players and then three floaters up front – sometimes with a number nine like Timo Werner, sometimes using other elements – and it worked out great for Chelsea. So I wasn’t surprised that they get a shot at the Champions League title because if you don’t allow any goals to go in, sooner or later you’ll score – and that’s what Chelsea did. For me the player of the season is N’Golo Kanté. If you have him in your team you can win anything.

Just the beginning

More to come from Haaland?

Erling Haaland has made such a strong impression. We’ve been talking about him constantly over the past year and now because of all the speculation: where will he go if he leaves Dortmund? And he’s not even fully developed; he’s not a complete player yet. At such a young age he is so driven and so, so focused. We all admire Kylian Mbappé; he’s won a World Cup already and is an absolute star for Paris Saint-Germain. So when you compare those two players, Mbappé is already 98% there, whereas Haaland is still raw – in a positive sense. He is at 80% maybe and whoever gets to work with him over the next couple of years can improve that remaining 20%. And that is huge. Look at the number of goals he’s scored and yet there’s still so much more to come. It’s been a breakout year for him and now I’m so curious to see how far he can go.

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!

The game-changers

De Bruyne leads the way

I’m a huge Kevin De Bruyne fan because he looks for solutions with every move he makes, every pass he plays and all the one-on-ones he goes for. He’s fearless – he runs at people. I love players who just take the ball and go for it. That’s what makes De Bruyne and Mbappé different from many other players: they take people on at any given second. Romelu Lukaku and Haaland can do that too. But De Bruyne, maybe since the World Cup in Russia, has become almost the complete player. He links up so well.

Thomas Müller is another at Bayern, always looking for Robert Lewandowski. Paul Pogba is also fascinating: you see what he does for France and you’re looking for that with United. Sometimes it’s player chemistry or a system that allows you to get the most out of your game. When Pogba is backed by Kanté he’s a different Pogba from the one who plays for United. He has different players around him in the French team and I don’t mean that negatively, it just makes a difference to him personally.


Case for the defence

Upamecano boosts Bayern

Dayot Upamecano is a fantastic talent. Like Haaland, he still isn’t quite the finished product. You could see he showed some nerves the moment they announced his transfer; he lost a little bit of his consistency. He was probably emotionally overwhelmed and that’s all good – he’s human. But he can become a leader of the Bayern defence for many years to come.

Incidentally, in that transfer you see the psychology of the game: Bayern basically killed Leipzig with that transfer. And as if that wasn’t enough, they take their coach Julian Nagelsmann as well. But they’ve been doing that to their main rivals in Germany for the past 30 years.


People person

Nagelsmann’s know-how

Nagelsmann is a very young coach with a tremendous amount of knowledge and he’s a tremendous people manager, similar to Hansi Flick. He’s on the same wavelength as the players, which is crucial for a modern manager. The players are so well educated coming through the academy systems in the top footballing nations that you don’t need to explain to them how to step out or what to do after you lose the ball. They’ve already got all that knowledge from playing for the youth teams.

That makes it a lot easier for the managers of the big clubs to concentrate on: “How do I handle Mbappé and Neymar? How do I handle Benzema? How do I handle Lewandowski?” All these tremendous big, big players. They all have their own support system: maybe a personal doctor, personal physiotherapist, personal fitness trainer. They have agents who play a major role in their lives. The coach has to take all of that into consideration when thinking about how to communicate with these super athletes.

Nagelsmann has done a tremendous job in the past couple of years, first in Hoffenheim and then in Leipzig. He is a highly talented coach and now he has to prove himself at a club with very big names who are in control of the landscape there. It will be interesting to see how he gets on.

So near, yet so far

Guardiola still deserves credit

Pep Guardiola had an outstanding year. The way he had his team playing flowing football and the way he mixed things up – sometimes with a number nine, sometimes without – was very, very enjoyable. He won the Premier League and you thought he was going to cash in on the Champions League for the first time with City. He deserved to be coach of the year, but then Thomas Tuchel won it on the day. Tuchel came in late after Frank Lampard had laid the foundations, but the way he’s put his stamp on the team has been fantastic. Huge, huge, huge compliments to Tuchel, but over the entire stretch of the competition I would make Guardiola my Champions League coach of the season.

Time’s right for Tuchel

German’s system works for Chelsea

I wasn’t surprised to see Chelsea win in Porto because of the way Tuchel prepares his team. Defensively they are very organised and don’t allow the opponent much. That was key from the beginning of his work at Chelsea. He built a very solid and strong defensive foundation and then added the attacking pieces to it. It’s a very different approach to that of Guardiola, who has six free-flowing players in the midfield and attack. Tuchel has six or seven very strong defensively minded players and then three floaters up front – sometimes with a number nine like Timo Werner, sometimes using other elements – and it worked out great for Chelsea. So I wasn’t surprised that they get a shot at the Champions League title because if you don’t allow any goals to go in, sooner or later you’ll score – and that’s what Chelsea did. For me the player of the season is N’Golo Kanté. If you have him in your team you can win anything.

Just the beginning

More to come from Haaland?

Erling Haaland has made such a strong impression. We’ve been talking about him constantly over the past year and now because of all the speculation: where will he go if he leaves Dortmund? And he’s not even fully developed; he’s not a complete player yet. At such a young age he is so driven and so, so focused. We all admire Kylian Mbappé; he’s won a World Cup already and is an absolute star for Paris Saint-Germain. So when you compare those two players, Mbappé is already 98% there, whereas Haaland is still raw – in a positive sense. He is at 80% maybe and whoever gets to work with him over the next couple of years can improve that remaining 20%. And that is huge. Look at the number of goals he’s scored and yet there’s still so much more to come. It’s been a breakout year for him and now I’m so curious to see how far he can go.

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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