Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick: “We won’t change much”
Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick says he “won’t change much” in terms of his team’s playing style in the UEFA Champions League final against Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday, while also indicating that Joshua Kimmich will continue at right-back ahead of Benjamin Pavard.
The Bavarians are unbeaten in all competitions in 2020 as they push for the second treble in the club’s history.
And while they may have advanced to the continental showpiece by scoring 11 and conceding just two against Barcelona and Lyon in the last two rounds, the fact that both of those teams were able to carve out promising chances prompted questions about Bayern’s high defensive line – particularly in light of the pace in PSG’s attack, including Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Angel di Maria.
Watch: Bayern on the verge of the treble
However, Flick insisted that Bayern would stick with an approach that has yielded an unbeaten run of 29 games - and 28 wins - since losing 2-1 to Borussia Mönchengladbach on 7 December 2019.
“Playing with a high back line has been a feature of our game because by doing that we don’t allow the opposition any space,” the 55-year-old said at his pre-match press conference on Saturday.
“Obviously that means the gap between our defence and our goal is pretty big, but the important thing is that we put pressure on the ball. It’s important that we cover the ground when a ball is played in […] and it’s important that we close down the passing channels.
“We know that PSG have a lot of pace, which is why it’ll be a very interesting match. But over the last 10 months we’ve implemented our philosophy in our games and have pressed the opposition. That’s been our guarantee for success, and we won’t change it much.”
One change that Flick may be forced to make is in central defence, as regular starter Jerome Boateng has been struggling with injury since being substituted off at half-time against Lyon in the semi-finals.
“I spoke to Jerome this morning and he’ll take part in our training session today,” said Flick. “I’ll wait to see what happens there and then decide with my coaching staff. I hope Jerome’s fit and passes the test today.”
The Bayern coach was also asked whether first-choice right-back Pavard was a candidate to start the final in place of Kimmich, having recovered from an ankle injury to play the last eight minutes against Lyon.
“We’re all delighted that Benjamin has managed to be with us,” Flick replied. “You could see that I trust him completely by bringing him on against Lyon. He’s had an excellent season and he does us a lot of good with his presence and attitude.
Watch: All of Kimmich's goals and assists in 2019/20
“He knows how to play the position and that’s why he was a good option for us. But I’m not yet completely sure that he’ll be at 100 per cent if he’s in the starting line-up. We’ll do another test today and see how thing are, like with Jerome.”
Given the high-stakes nature of the game, all signs point to Kimmich continuing on the right side of defence, leaving Thiago and Leon Goretzka in central midfield.
Kimmich himself hinted as much during Saturday’s press conference: “We haven’t been told what the line-up is yet, so I’m assuming I’ll be playing at right-back.”
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