After a short but incredibly successful stint in charge of Bayern Munich, Hansi Flick will step down as coach of the record Bundesliga champions at the end of the 2020/21 season.
1) Bayern Munich 4-0 Borussia Dortmund
Bundesliga Matchday 11 - 9 November 2019
Three days after his first assignment on the Bayern bench - a 2-0 win over Olympiacos in the UEFA Champions League group stage - Flick faced a stern test of his credentials as Borussia Dortmund travelled to the Allianz Arena. Bayern had slipped to fourth in the table in their previous league outing: a 5-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt, which spelled the end for Niko Kovac and prompted Flick's appointment on an interim basis. Dortmund, meanwhile, had just claimed confidence-boosting wins over Wolfsburg and Inter Milan.
On paper, it was a potential Black-and-Yellow banana skin for the new Bayern boss, but instead it all went pear-shaped for Lucien Favre's visitors. Robert Lewandowski netted twice against his former employers in a 4-0 thrashing, with Dortmund only managing their first shot on goal in the 69th minute. Serge Gnabry was also on target, with ex-Bayern man Mats Hummels conceding a late own goal. It was a statement performance from Flick's side, and the best possible way to get players, fans and management on side.
Watch: Flick's dream debut in the Bundesliga against BVB
"I think Hansi Flick is the right man for the job," Lewandowski told Polish TV channel TVN 24 afterwards. "We have a good relationship with him. In a short time, he's shown us what we can work on to play better and win matches. His tactical and footballing knowledge are at a high level. I think he has a chance of being our coach until at least the end of the season."
2) Barcelona 2-8 Bayern Munich
UEFA Champions League quarter-final - 14 August 2020
Lewandowski's prediction came true. In late December, Flick was told he would keep the reins until the end of 2019/20, but he continued doing such a sensational job that by April, the club had offered him a contract through to June 2023. It wasn't hard to see why.
After back-to-back league defeats to Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayern kicked into full juggernaut mode, embarking on a mind-bending run of 29 wins and just a solitary draw as they wrapped up the second treble in their history (Bundesliga, DFB Cup and Champions League). There were some memorable moments along the way, but none of them stand out quite like the 8-2 demolition of Barcelona during the one-off Champions League 'Final 8' tournament in Lisbon.
Flick was on the sidelines as Joachim Löw's assistant when Germany put Brazil to the sword in the 2014 FIFA World Cup semi-finals, romping to a 7-1 win, and there was a sense of déjà vu in the way Bayern battered Barca in this single-leg last-eight tie. Thomas Müller's early strike was quickly cancelled out by a David Alaba own goal, but Ivan Perisic, Gnabry and Müller then struck in the space of 10 minutes to put the German champions practically out of sight by half-time.
Luis Suarez gave the Catalan giants hope with a well-taken goal for 4-2 just before the hour, but Alphonso Davies soon extinguished any hopes of a comeback - turning Nelson Semedo inside out, dancing up the byline and picking out Joshua Kimmich for 5-2. Lewandowski and Barcelona loanee Philippe Coutinho added three more goals in the closing stages, as Lionel Messi's five-time European champions suffered their heaviest defeat since the 1930s.
"Hats off to the team," Flick said, after what will probably go down as the marquee performance of his Bayern tenure. "The way they maintained such high intensity over 90 minutes was sensational. That's our mentality, it's what we're all about. We're delighted that our performance was rewarded, and with such a big win at that. What really pleases me is how our substitutes slot in so seamlessly and deliver. That shows our team spirit. Now we need to regenerate and focus on the next game."
3) Paris Saint-Germain 0-1 Bayern Munich
UEFA Champions League final - 23 August 2020
That next game was the Champions League semi-final against surprise package Lyon, who actually made a fine start - but faded after Gnabry opened the scoring with an Arjen Robben special, cutting in from the right flank and rifling into the top corner. Gnabry grabbed another and Lewandowski headed in late on as Flick's men won 3-0, marching on to a continental showdown with the French champions, Paris Saint-Germain.
Like many finals, the game was keenly contested, incredibly tense, and ultimately decided by a single moment of magic. Manuel Neuer made key interventions to keep out Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, but the hero of the piece was Kingsley Coman - born in Paris, a product of the PSG youth system, and a player who wasn't even expected to start the game.
In Bayern's three previous outings during that fortnight in Lisbon, Perisic had started on the left wing, even getting on the scoresheet against Chelsea and Barcelona. But for the big one, Flick decided to give Coman the nod against his boyhood club - and the 24-year-old winger repaid his faith by nodding in the game's only goal. Kimmich provided the assist, as Kimmich so often does, and Coman powered his inch-perfect cross past Keylor Navas to secure Bayern their sixth European title.
"I can't exactly say what was decisive for Kingsley in the end," Flick admitted to Sport Bild. "It was probably a gut feeling. You discuss a lot of things and in the end, as the coach, you make a decision. I like to keep my options open, because so many things can happen. The decision to start Kingsley was only made a few hours before kick-off."
And what a decision it turned out to be. Since Jupp Heynckes signed off with the club's first historic treble in 2012/13, Bayern had endured some frustrating years at Europe's top table, with Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti and Niko Kovac all failing to go beyond the semi-finals. Though he admittedly had to play fewer games due to the competition's shorter format, Flick still succeeded where his predecessors had failed, taking Germany's most decorated club back to the summit of the continental game – and even beyond…
4) Bayern Munich 1-0 Tigres
FIFA Club World Cup final - 11 February 2021
If there were any doubts about Bayern being the best team in world football during Flick's reign, they were put to bed when they also lifted the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar. A narrow victory over Mexican side Tigres made them just the second club in history to win six titles in a calendar year (after Barcelona in 2009), even if some coronavirus-related postponements meant their success spilled over into 2021.
The Bavarians had come close to the 'sextuple' in 2013, with only the German Supercup slipping through their grasp, but Flick's class of 2020 were not to be denied. Javi Martinez scored in extra time as they beat Sevilla to conquer the UEFA Super Cup, and a week later Kimmich flicked in an unorthodox late winner as they battled past Dortmund in the Supercup. They only had to tame Tigres to claim an unprecedented grand slam.
Watch: Heavyweight champions of the world - Bayern's historic six-pack
Kimmich had a superb long-range strike ruled out after the offside Lewandowski got the slightest of touches, and Leroy Sane crashed an effort off the woodwork, but Bayern still won the day - and again, it was a Frenchman who conjured up the winner. Lewandowski saw a headed attempt blocked by Tigres keeper Nahuel Guzman, but Benjamin Pavard was on home to slam in the rebound. By the end of the game, the 25-year-old was a champion of Germany, Europe and - for both club and country - the world.
"Congratulations to my team, they've certainly achieved something historic," Flick declared. "Even for a successful club like Bayern, it's surely the best season they've ever had. We were dominant and deserved to win the final. It's outstanding what this team has achieved, and the mentality on the pitch today was just great. It's a huge success for the team and an outstanding team performance."
Incredibly, at that point in his Bayern managerial career, Flick had won more trophies (6) than he had suffered defeats (5), with his overall record reading 58 wins, five draws and five losses in 68 competitive outings.
5) RB Leipzig 0-1 Bayern Munich
Bundesliga Matchday 27 - 3 April 2021
They say all good things come to an end, although in Flick's case the end came perhaps sooner than many were expecting. At the end of April 2021, Bayern agreed to their coach's request to terminate his contract two years ahead of schedule, simultaneously announcing that RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann would take over in the summer on a five-year deal.
Leipzig were the only team Bayern failed to beat - or score against - in their phenomenal 32-game unbeaten run between December 2019 and September 2020, playing out a goalless draw at the Allianz Arena. And when they faced off at the Red Bull Arena at the start of April 2021 - with Bayern four points clear at the top of the table - Leipzig were the only team who could realistically stop the Bavarians sealing a ninth consecutive Bundesliga crown.
Watch: Bayern edge Leipzig to close in on another Bundesliga title
By that point, Flick's side had already been knocked out of the DFB Cup - suffering a shock second-round defeat to Holstein Kiel on penalties - and after the Leipzig game, they would exit the Champions League as well. The absence of Lewandowski and Gnabry proved pivotal as the holders lost to PSG on away goals (3-3), despite having 46 shots on goal to the French outfit's 16 over the two legs.
Nevertheless, Leon Goretzka's emphatic winner against Leipzig all but ensured that Flick will add more silverware to the Bayern trophy cabinet before stepping down in June. Victory in any of their remaining three games against Gladbach, Freiburg and Augsburg will mean that Germany's most successful side remain on cloud nine in the Bundesliga.
"If the season goes in the normal direction, then Bayern will be champions," Nagelsmann acknowledged to bundesliga.com after Leipzig's 1-0 defeat. "We'll try to keep up there and try to fight, try to reach second place in the table."
From next season onwards, Nagelsmann will no longer be trying to knock Bayern off their perch but keep them very much on it, at the pinnacle of the German and European game. But the 33-year-old certainly has some big shoes to fill, because nobody at the club will forget how Fabulous Flick oversaw one of the brightest periods in their glittering history.
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