Flick's 'brutal domination' makes Bayern new favourite

Manchester City was the bookmaker's pre-tournament favourite but although Pep Guardiola's side has yet to kick a ball, it has already lost that status to Hansi Flick's Bavarians.

Hansi Flick

Flick during Bayern's thumping win over Barcelona in the Champions League quarterfinals.   -  REUTERS

In the space of 90 minutes of devastating attacking football, Bayern Munich totally changed the narrative around this Champions League 'final eight' tournament and the impact of its 8-2 humiliation of Barcelona will have an even bigger resonance.

Manchester City was the bookmaker's pre-tournament favourite but although Pep Guardiola's side has yet to kick a ball, it has already lost that status to Hansi Flick's Bavarians.

How could Bayern not be favourite after systematically ripping apart a team which has been the symbol of football excellence for most of the past decade?

READ | Champions League: Bayern thumps Barca 8-2 to make semis

City takes on Olympique Lyonnais in the last of the four quarterfinals on Saturday but whoever emerges victorious from that clash, their celebrations will be tempered by the knowledge that the Germans will await them in the semifinals.

One of the reasons that Bayern was considered merely one of the contenders in Lisbon was the sneaking suspicion that it has it too easy in the Bundesliga, where this season it won its eighth consecutive domestic league title and may not be battle-hardened enough for the European elite.

That seems a ridiculously fanciful notion now.

Quique Setien's Barcelona is clearly not the Barca of Guardiola or even a match for the more modest teams of more recent years, but it still finished second in the Spanish league and beat Inter Milan, Borussia Dortmund and Napoli on its way to the last eight.

Flick has already led Bayern to the Bundesliga (not in picture) and DFB Pokal titles. - GETTY IMAGES

 

And yet, inspired by the rejuvenated Thomas Mueller, and playing a brand of aggressive, high pressing football, Bayern was simply too much for the Catalans.

“We started pretty well but the power of the opponents, in many phases of the play, overran us,” said Setien.

Indeed Bayern made Barcelona look simultaneously an old and jaded team and naive, as it tried to pass its way out against a relentless press.

Flick's approach was to go for the kill from the outset.

 

Clearly sensing Barca's defence was fragile and its midfield lacking the steel to compete effectively, Bayern swarmed players into the forward areas.

In the first half, that was all about the brilliant Mueller but it said much that its sixth goal was the result of a pass from their left-back Alphonso Davies finished by the right-back Joshua Kimmich.

Flick has not, until this game, been considered one of the new wave of German coaches epitomised by Liverpool's Juergen Klopp, who won the Champions League last year and Paris St Germain's Thomas Tuchel and RB Leipizig's 33-year-old Julian Nagelsmann, who will meet in the other semifinal.

Before he replaced the sacked Niko Kovac in November, Flick was known for his detailed planning and meticulous data analysis but had no experience as a Bundesliga head coach, having been surprisingly appointed as Kovacs assistant at the start of the season.

A former Germany assistant coach to Joachim Loew who helped guide them to the 2014 World Cup title, Flick had then gone over to a German Football Association sports director position.

When Kovac was sacked with the Bavarians outside the leading positions and the team in disarray, Flicks promotion was merely to be a temporary two-game solution before a big-name replacement was found.

That search was postponed by Flick's positive start which led to him earning the job on a full-basis.

He now has a record of 31 wins, one draw and only two defeats as Bayern coach.

Flick's approach was summed up by Mueller.

“Today we wanted to dominate our opponents with our way of playing football right from the start. We were just brutally dominant, especially against the ball,” he said.

Barcelona might not be the only team in Lisbon who find Flick's brutal domination just too much to cope with.

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