He’s friends with Lionel Messi, played for Bayern Munich for seven years and will soon take charge of the record Bundesliga champions’ reserve side, but who exactly is Martin Demichelis?
bundesliga.com shines a light on the man charged with grooming Bayern’s next generation…
Club: Bayern Munich reserves
Role: Head coach
Country of birth: Argentina
Born in Justiniano Posse, near Cordoba, in Argentina in 1980, Demichelis joined one of the country’s biggest teams, River Plate, at the age of 18. He scored on his first-team debut in September 2001 and went on to make 51 appearances for Los Millonarios before Bayern swooped in summer 2003.
Nicknamed ‘Micho’, Demichelis struggled with injury in his first Bundesliga season and made just 14 top-flight outings, but was a first-team regular in six of his subsequent seven campaigns at the club, able to play either at centre-back or in defensive midfield.
The 6’0” (1.84m) no-nonsense battler even shared a changing room with current Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic between 2003 and 2007 at the club, and won four Bundesliga titles and four DFB Cups before departing in 2010 having scored 15 goals in 252 competitive outings for the Reds.
Demichelis had subsequent spells at Malaga, Atletico Madrid and Manchester City, where he won the English Premier League in 2014, before hanging up his boots for good in 2017. He had retired from international duty the previous year with 51 caps, and was part of the Albiceleste side that lost the 2014 FIFA World Cup final to Germany.
He had a stint as assistant manager at Malaga in 2017 before fulfilling an ambassadorial role across the globe for Bayern until Salihamidzic offered him, as a fluent German speaker, the chance to be co-coach of the Bayern U19s in summer 2019, alongside Danny Schwarz. The latter took charge of the club’s U17s in 2020/21, but the duo will resume duties together when they take joint reins of the Bayern reserves from 4 April onwards.
Watch: Demichelis' goal for Bayern against Energie Cottbus in May 2009
Coaches a bit like: Manuel Pellegrini
Bayern’s U19s have only played five times in 2020/21 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the previous season was cut short too, limiting insights into Demichelis’ selections and strategies.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a former defender, having a solid base in the middle of the park appears to be a central feature, and his preferred formation has tended to be a 4-1-4-1, although that can easily be adapted into the 4-2-3-1 used by Hansi Flick’s first team.
What is clear, however, is that Demichelis has been influenced by some of the best in the business. He played under Pellegrini at River Plate, Malaga and Manchester City, spending seven years in total guided by the Chilean, and naming him as his favourite coach.
“He was a very important man in my career and I obviously learned a lot from him,” Demichelis told Sport1 in 2020. “His philosophy was always very similar to that of Pep Guardiola in that he always wanted us to be dominant.”
Furthermore, his experiences as a player at Bayern shaped his management style today: “Felix Magath was a tough coach. From him I learned that you can't be successful without discipline. Ottmar Hitzfeld was outstanding in terms of leading the team. He never lost his cool, which is very important for a coach. From [Louis] van Gaal I learned the importance of control, passing and the movement of the ball. In the 18 months I worked with him, there was never an exercise without the ball. I love that philosophy.”
Did you know?
Demichelis is friends with compatriot Messi, and attended his wedding in 2017. In addition to naming the Barcelona star as the toughest player he faced during his career – he was sent off after fouling Messi and conceding a penalty in Manchester City’s Champions League round of 16 defeat February 2014 – he played a role in helping the forward prolong his career
“Both of us started playing for the national team at the same time,” Demichelis told Tribuna. “I consider myself one of the 10 or 12 friends that Messi made in there during all these years.
“I recommended nutritionist Giuliano Poser to Messi because he was tired of vomiting and diarrhoea. It's hard to advise someone with so many gifts to change eating habits, but the greatness of Leo also resides in that he is open to reinventing himself.”
What they’re saying
“I didn’t have to think about it for long, because I love ‘Mia san Mia’. I love being part of the Bayern family. Munich is my second home.” – Demichelis on taking over the Bayern U19s in 2019
“Danny loves Pep Guardiola’s coaching philosophy as much as I do. Alongside our assistants Stefan Buck and Christian Saba, we work really well and in harmony together. We benefit from the fact we all have the same game philosophy.” – Demichelis on having a co-coach in Danny Schwarz
“We recently reached an agreement with Danny Schwarz and Martin Demichelis that the two of them would jointly succeed Holger [Seitz] from the 2021/2022 season. We're now bringing this decision forward in the interest of everyone involved." - Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic