Uefa Champions League, Q-final first leg: Barcelona v Bayern Munich Venue:
Nou Camp Date:
Wednesday, 8 April Kick-off:
1945 GMT Coverage:
BBC Radio 5 Live updates with live text commentary on the BBC Sport website. Also live on Sky Sports Xtra
Klinsmann has always done things his own way
By Saj Chowdhury
"Whenever you do something new in Germany, people are sceptical."
Bayern Munich coach Jürgen Klinsmann has changed perceptions before, winning over an initially unwilling British football public in the mid-1990s during his time with Tottenham.
And now, in an exclusive interview with BBC Sport ahead of his side's Champions League clash against Barcelona, Klinsmann has admitted his first season in charge of the German giants has also been a battle for hearts and minds.
Bayern asked the 44-year-old to take over from Ottmar Hitzfeld last summer with a specific brief to turn them, once again, into "one of the top eight teams in Europe".
Fast forward to April and his side are in the quarter-finals of the Champions League following a 12-1 aggregate win over Sporting Lisbon in the last round. So far, so good at the Allianz Arena? Not quite.
In order to fulfil the wishes of his new bosses, Klinsmann wanted to change the coaching dynamics.
With methods - researched during from his post-playing days in California and tried and tested during his tenure as Germany coach -Klinsmann introduced the idea of holistic coaching which he would practise at the new training facility built for him at Saberner Strasse.
JURGEN KLINSMANN FACTFILE
30 July 1964
Vfb Stuttgart, Inter Milan, AS Monaco, Tottenham, Bayern Munich
He brought in American fitness gurus, eight-hour training days, yoga sessions, relaxation zones and adorned the centre with Buddha statues.
Initial results saw two wins from the first six league games, leaving Bayern a lowly 14th in the Bundesliga by September. The Buddha statues were removed after a few weeks with bad karma allegedly floating around the place.
"There were many questions from the players, the club, the fans - we had won the German championship and Cup, so why now the changes?" said a defiant Klinsmann from his office in Munich.
"In order to catch up with the big teams, we needed to play a faster game and we had to be sharper mentally.
"That's what we did from day one - we tried to work towards that goal. But it took time for people to get used to that and that's why we lost games at the beginning."
His side have since improved, albeit in stutters. But they squandered the chance to go top of the Bundesliga, with a demoralising 5-1 defeat to rivals Wolfsburg on Saturday. And having exited the German Cup at the quarter-final stage, Bayern are faced with the prospect of being trophy-less at the end of the season.
However, Klinsmann, who has made a habit of turning vilification to praise as both player and coach, is adamant his philosophy of football will eventually be readily embraced by Bayern.
His enthusiasm for what he believes in becomes more evident when the idea of "developing the individual" enters the conversation.
Klinnsmann, Germany's second all-time leading goalscorer, said he wanted to nurture each player and in the long run create a team with "amazing chemistry" to rival the best in Europe.
To help him in his mission, Klinsmann brought in former Major League Soccer coach Martin Vasquez as his right-hand man and four individuals to work on the squad's all-round well-being.
"Players have to take their destiny in their own hands," he said.
"Coaches are here to give advice, but at the end of the day it's the player who makes the decisions on the pitch.
"Once the game begins, it's up to them. It's a process of empowerment. We try to pass on responsibility, so if they are one goal or two goals down they know what to do.
"Eventually it comes together in a team environment - a chemistry is formed. I look at the chemistry at Liverpool, Manchester United and Barcelona, which is amazing."
Podolski (left) is set to leave Bayern in the summer
Klinsmann admitted that he had "lost a couple of players" in his efforts to relate his methods to the squad.
"If you move people out of the comfort zone then they're not happy," he continued.
"But you don't take them out of the comfort zone to tease them, it's for their own benefit.
"With some players it's quick and with some it takes time and you will lose a couple of players. I love my job and I'm curious to find out what challenges come up."
One player he has already lost is striker Lukas Podolski.
The 23-year-old, who scored three goals in helping Klinsmann's Germany reach the 2006 World Cup semi-finals, is set to return to Cologne at the end of the season having failed to reproduce his international form for Bayern.
In Klinsmann's words, Podolski could not cope with the pressures of playing for Germany's most successful club.
"The players that are here are under constant pressure - they are asked to be on top of their game and they have to get used to that," he added.
"Sometimes you get a player who cannot deal with the expectations. You may lose a player who's highly talented.
"We will lose Podolski to Cologne. He struggles with the day-in day-out pressures at Bayern Munich. He has been unable to take Luca Toni's or Miroslav Klose's place in attack so he asked the club if he could go back to his hometown team. Losing players is a natural process in football."
Klinsmann is initially on a two-year deal at the Allianz Arena and the tone of his voice seems to suggest that he wants to remain there longer in order to realise his grand plan.
But he is also aware that a club of that stature demands quick results.
"It has been a kind of a cultural challenge, but with the passing months the reaction has become more positive," he added.
"People have seen the improvement in the results and we play good football. We have probably played the most attractive football so far in the Champions League.
"It has started to pay back, but like every coach I depend on titles. I need to get titles to confirm we're on the right path."
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