A win at the FIFA Club World Cup 2020 would see Hans-Dieter Flick and Bayern Munich make history by becoming only the second team after Barcelona (in 2009) to win all six domestic and international titles up for grabs in one season. And yet despite the enormity of the occasion, the coach says that he does not feel under any particular pressure.
“It’s always the case at Bayern Munich that you want to have the most successful season possible,” said Flick, “and after the treble, you’re obviously looking at the FIFA Club World Cup. We’re quite simply motivated to win something else, so we’re all obviously really looking forward to the Club World Cup.”
The record German league winners will get their campaign under way on February 8 in the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Qatar. The draw that was made on Tuesday in Zurich pitted them against whoever comes through the quarter-final between last season’s league champions in the host nation Al Duhail SC (Qatar) and the CAF Champions League winners Al Ahly SC (Egypt).
Flick has four players in his ranks who know what it takes to win the FIFA Club World Cup, with captain and current Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, FIFA World Cup winners Thomas Muller and Jerome Boateng, and Austria’s David Alaba, all part of the successful 2013 campaign for the club. Back then, Pep Guardiola was in charge when Bayern won the final in Morocco 2-0 courtesy of goals from Thiago and Dante. According to Flick, everyone had a positive experience of that victorious tournament.
“All of them, including Hermann Gerland, who was already on the coaching staff back then, said that it’s quite simply a wonderful event and that it’s fun to take part in it, pure and simple. And if we can have the same success that they did in 2013, then that will make it a whole lot of fun and a unique event, which is exactly the kind of experience we’re looking to have this year with the team.”
A Club World Cup brings together not merely the best teams in a particular continent, but the cream of club football from all around the world – something that the Bayern coach was quick to underline.
“I know what it’s like from working with the national team. At European Championships, or for us in the Champions League, you always play European teams. Coming up against South American, Asian or African sides is always a little bit different in terms of the mentality of your opponents. On the one hand, as I’ve just said, it’s the mindset and the way the players are set up, but you also come across the occasional new concept as regards the way you imagine and eventually play the game.
“From that point of view, I’m really looking forward to seeing and analysing what the tournament has to offer and maybe picking up some fresh ideas. This is why it’s always really special when you get a global perspective on something and get to play against the best teams in the world.”
As UEFA representatives, Bayern are automatically one of the tournament favourites. A look back at the roll of honour shows that clubs from the Old Continent have already enjoyed a great deal of success. The last time a non-European side came out on top was all the way back in 2012, when Corinthians from Brazil defeated Chelsea in Japan. Since then, Bayern (2013), Real Madrid (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018) Barcelona (2015) and Liverpool (2019) have all taken home the title, and Bayern will be hoping to add to that list by winning the final, to be held on February 11 in Education City Stadium.
“We’re hoping and aiming to win the tournament, but as is always the case, we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves,” said Flick. “First off, we want to – and we have to – win our semi-final. We’re obviously hopeful of making it to the final – it’s our goal but it’s also our duty to get that far. We’ll be doing everything we can to prepare in the best way possible to realise our ambitions. But first and foremost we have to do our jobs, and then we can see whether we’ve earned ourselves a reward.” (FIFA.com)
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