Bayern Munich's Kingsley Coman has described his former Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola as "the best coach" a winger can have.

Coman was brought to Bavaria, initially on a loan from Juventus, when Guardiola was in charge of Bayern in 2015 and became a key part of the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double-winning team in his first campaign.

The France international has worked with some of the game's leading coaches - including Didier Deschamps, Massimiliano Allegri, Jupp Heynckes, Carlo Ancelotti and Laurent Blanc - yet the 23-year-old identified Guardiola as the one who has had the most profound effect on his career.

"I would say Guardiola," Coman told Eurosport.

"He is the one who made me start playing a little more regularly even if I had played a few matches at Juve.

"For a player in my position, a winger who likes to hit and provoke, he is the best coach we can have because that is what demands us the most.

"He creates systems to have one-on-one situations and it's the system where I can flourish the most.

"He didn't ask me to have stats. He just asked me to take, hit and centre. And that was what I appreciated very much."

Injuries have blighted Coman's career in recent years and he only returned in February from a two-month absence due to a knee problem.

A thigh injury then meant Coman missed Bayern's three games before their campaign was halted by the suspension of competitions due to the spread of coronavirus.

The Bundesliga is eyeing a return to action in early May and Bayern's players were back training in small groups this week, much to Coman's delight.

"We had not touched a ball on a football pitch for almost a month and even if we're split in small groups it's a pleasure to play again and step onto a field that has goals," Coman said.

"We're doing technical work, at a safe distance from each other. It's a bit like the end of the close season when you resume training individually."

Bayern are top of the Bundesliga and beat Chelsea 3-0 in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash.

"We work, we work, and I hope we can finish the season otherwise all that work will have been for nothing," Coman added.

Thomas Muller does not think he would have signed a contract extension at Bayern Munich were Niko Kovac still at the helm as head coach.

Former Germany forward Muller penned fresh terms at the Allianz Arena to run until June 2023 this week.

The 30-year-old will be forever synonymous with Bayern and sits fourth on their all-time scoring charts with 195 goals across 521 appearances.

However, he found himself out in the cold under Kovac, who was sacked in November.

Since Hansi Flick's arrival, initially as an interim head coach, Muller has been a player revitalised, netting six goals and supplying a remarkable 12 assists in 15 Bundesliga games.

"In autumn, I was left out of the starting 11 for six games in a row. It was difficult. Of course, it made me think," he told an online news conference on Thursday.

"Emotionally, it was very tense back then. I wasn't necessarily thinking that I would be extending my contract in the spring.

"With the change of coach and different playing style, everything has developed positively.

"Not only have I been playing more, but I've also been able to put my stamp on our games again."

Bayern's players returned to training in small groups on Monday, with the club offering assurances that "all hygiene regulations will be strictly observed" amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"We try to stick to what is specified from above," Muller said. "I don't know what is specified and restricted in other areas.

"We have to fit into the overall structure. I don't know if football has a special position."

He added: "We all want to play football, of course, but only from the point of view that makes sense. This is an exceptional situation, not only for football."

Thomas Muller is as important to Bayern as Oktoberfest is to the city of Munich, according to club president Herbert Hainer.

Muller signed a new contract on Tuesday to remain with the Bundesliga champions until 2023.

The 30-year-old has spent his entire career with Bayern and has made 521 appearances for the club, scoring 195 times and providing 146 assists since making his debut in 2008.

That has led Hainer to compare the former Germany international to one of Munich's most famous events.

"It is of course very good news and I was incredibly happy when I heard it," he said in quotes published on Bayern's Twitter account.

"Thomas Muller is a hero, a symbol of FC Bayern Munich. He's spent his entire footballing career here and he's blossomed once again in recent months under Hansi Flick.

"He provides so many assists, he's an outstanding player, and I think that Thomas Muller belongs to FC Bayern, much like Oktoberfest belongs to the city of Munich.

"And in that respect, that's really great news."

Muller is not the only key figure at Bayern to have penned an extension in recent days, with Flick agreeing a deal to remain as permanent coach last week.

Flick took over on an interim basis in November and Bayern were on a 15-match unbeaten run - winning 14 of those games - before competitions were suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"When the matter was brought to the supervisory board, we made a very quick and unanimous decision," Hainer said of Flick's contract.

"As head coach of FC Bayern Munich, you will of course be measured by titles and that will certainly be the case with Hansi Flick.

"But we are absolutely convinced by Hansi Flick. If you look at what he has done with the team over the past few months, he has not only got the team winning, but it's also about the way the team plays.

"They play incredibly attractive, great, attacking football, they score a lot of goals and win most games.

"They're already so good, but I'm convinced Hansi Flick will continue to develop this team."

Hansi Flick is hopeful Bayern Munich can come to a positive resolution with a group of club stalwarts whose contracts are set to expire in 2021.

Flick was on Friday signed to a three-year deal by Bayern, having taken over as interim coach in November and restored them as Bundesliga favourites after a poor start under Niko Kovac.

Bayern are four points clear at the top with the Bundesliga, like most leagues across Europe, suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Thomas Muller penned a new deal to remain with Bayern until 2023 on Tuesday, but a host of others will be out of contract at the end of next season.

Manuel Neuer, David Alaba, Jerome Boateng, Javi Martinez and Thiago Alcantara will all be heading into the final year of their current deals in the 2020-21 campaign.

Asked about prospective extensions for the quintet, Flick told a media conference held via Zoom: "These are also decisions that every player has to decide for themselves.

"In the past weeks and months, I have already explained how important Manuel Neuer, David Alaba or Thiago are to us.

"They have undergone enormous developments over the past six months and were real top performers. The club also noticed that and I hope that it goes in the right direction."

The Bundesliga is suspended until at least April 30 and the likelihood is that, if it is to resume, the season will be completed behind closed doors.

On the so-called 'ghost games', Flick added: "The DFL [German Football League] is based on very clear guidelines. So everything is controlled.

"We have to be open to changes in the short term in connection with politics and the whole development.

"At the moment we should avoid physical contact, so we concentrate after three weeks of cyber training.

"It's a welcome change for the players. It takes time to get things back in. It's important that you can get used to it again.

"We will also have to get used to the fact that the games will take place without fans. We want to deal with it professionally."

Bayern Munich players made their return to training in small groups at Sabener Strasse on Monday.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the club's return to training is in line with the German Football League's (DFL) recommendation that teams took a break until April 5.

The Bundesliga was suspended on March 13 initially until April 2, but a meeting of clubs on March 31 extended the suspension to April 30 at the earliest.

Bayern will be training in the meantime, though they have asked fans to stay away from the club facilities as the players return to work.

Ahead of the session, which began in glorious sunshine, the club confirmed they would follow strict guidelines on hygiene and the distance kept between players.

"This will be done in coordination with government policy and the relevant authorities," read their statement on Sunday.

"It goes without saying that all hygiene regulations will be strictly observed."

Bayern are top of the Bundesliga table, four points clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund.

 

Bayern Munich defender David Alaba called the suggestion that a COVID-19 vaccine should be trialled first in Africa as "a kind of racism I could never imagine".

During a debate on television channel LCI last Wednesday about plans to see if a tuberculosis vaccine would be effective against coronavirus by trialling it in Europe and Australia, two French doctors sparked controversy.

Jean-Paul Mira, head of intensive care at the Cochin hospital in Paris, and Camille Locht, head of research at the Inserm health research group, suggested the method should first be tested in Africa.

Former Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba and ex-Cameroon attacker Samuel Eto'o spoke out against the comments, with Alaba joining them on social media.

Alaba tweeted: "Trying a #Covid19 [vaccine] in Africa??? Are these two guys doctors or clowns?

"This is a kind of racism I could never imagine. Disgraceful and unacceptable! We all have to stand together and work hand in hand to fight this virus."

Africa is the continent that has been least affected by the coronavirus pandemic, but the total number of cases reported has now exceeded 9,000, with 444 people dead.

Hansi Flick has brought the same harmony to Bayern Munich as iconic head coach Jupp Heynckes created, according to Lothar Matthaus.

Flick on Friday signed a contract to be Bayern's head coach until 2023, having taken over from Niko Kovac on an interim basis in November and guided the club into a four-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga.

Matthaus, who won seven Bundesliga titles with Bayern, has backed that decision, comparing the atmosphere under Flick to that seen under Heynckes, who masterminded Bayern's famous treble in 2012-13 and returned to win the Bundesliga in 2018.

Heynckes himself said over the weekend it was the right choice to appoint Flick on a permanent basis and Matthaus is in agreement.

"Definitely [the logical decision], it would have been incomprehensible if Bayern hadn't extended with him," Matthaus said to AZ.

"Hansi absolutely deserves this. FC Bayern are on the right track with him. It's a harmony like last seen under Jupp Heynckes, the team plays great football.

"He has improved the team overall, their football and tactically. In addition, there is his human dealings. Thanks to him, players like Jerome Boateng and Thomas Muller have once again reached their top level. 

"And Hansi also relies on young players like Alphonso Davies or Joshua Zirkzee. This is important because FC Bayern wants to ensure that the young players find their way from the youth centre [to the first-team] as often and regularly as possible. Hansi can shape an era in Bavaria."

Matthaus also hopes there will be another benefit to Flick's appointment.

He added: "It could be a sign to all players who have not yet renewed their contract: Thiago Alcantara, Thomas Muller, David Alaba, Manuel Neuer.

"Flick has raved enormously about Neuer in recent weeks, calling him the world's best goalkeeper." 

There will be no Olympic Games in 2020, but 124 years ago saw the rebirth of the great sporting spectacle.

Arsenal were swept aside by the brilliance of Lionel Messi in a thrilling Champions League game at Camp Nou, while Bayern Munich brought an end to Borussia Dortmund's hopes of dethroning them in the Bundesliga.

Robert Parish set a record for the most NBA games appeared in, and Sri Lanka got their hands on the World Twenty20 trophy at the expense of India.

We look back at some of the standout sporting moments that have happened on this day.

 

1896 – The start of a new Olympic era

The ancient Greek tradition of the Olympic Games got back under way 1,500 years after they were outlawed by Roman Emperor Theodosius I in a bid to suppress paganism.

Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin was pivotal to their revival, spearheading the formation of the International Olympic Committee in 1894 and subsequently the first Games of the modern era, which were held in Athens.

A crowd of 60,000 people turned up for the start of a spectacle that saw 280 participants from 13 nations take part in 43 events.

 

1996 – 'The Chief' makes NBA history

In a meeting between the Charlotte Hornets and the Cleveland Cavaliers, towering center Parish played his 1,561st NBA game to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and set a new record.

He had 14 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks in the 93-89 win over the Cavaliers.

Parish made his name with the Boston Celtics, with whom he won three NBA championships, and had made 1,611 appearances across 21 seasons when he called it quits after claiming his third ring with the Chicago Bulls in 1997.

 

2010 – Messi fires against Gunners

Arsenal came back from 2-0 down to draw the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona 2-2, and Nicklas Bendtner put the Gunners ahead in the return match at Camp Nou.

However, Messi flashed a stunning effort past Manuel Almunia two minutes later and, after slotting home a pass from Pedro, he had a hat-trick before the break thanks to a brilliant chip over the Arsenal goalkeeper.

An excellent solo effort sealed a 4-1 triumph in the 88th minute that sent Barca through to a semi-final with Jose Mourinho's Inter, who stunned them at Camp Nou and went on to claim the treble.

 

2014 – A T20 first for Sri Lanka

Some excellent death bowling from Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara limited India to a below-par 130-4 in a thrilling World T20 final in Dhaka.

Despite slipping to 65-3 in their chase, Sri Lanka surged to their first title by securing a resounding six-wicket victory with 13 balls remaining.

Kumar Sangakkara made an unbeaten 52 in his final T20I and Thisara Perera blasted 23 off 14 deliveries, which included three sixes.

 

2019 – Dortmund obliterated in Der Klassiker

Bayern's chances of clinching a seventh straight Bundesliga title were in danger of being blown apart when Dortmund arrived at the Allianz Arena for the 28th round of matches with a two-point lead at the top, though their advantage had stood at nine points in December.

The Bavarian giants made light work of Lucien Favre's side in a brutal display of supremacy, storming into a four-goal lead by half-time thanks to efforts from former Dortmund duo Mats Hummels and Robert Lewandowski, as well as Javi Martinez and Serge Gnabry.

Lewandowski tapped in a cross from Thomas Muller with a minute remaining to complete BVB's 5-0 humiliation, a result that ended their hopes of dethroning Bayern.

Bayern Munich will train "in small groups" on Monday after the club confirmed Hansi Flick's first-team squad would follow the German government's guidance on coronavirus precautions.

The Bundesliga was suspended on March 13 initially until April 2, but a meeting of clubs on March 31 extended the suspension to April 30 at the earliest.

A statement on Bayern's official website on Sunday urged supporters to stay away from the training ground as the players return to work.

"The FC Bayern Munich first team will return to training at Sabener Strasse in small groups from Monday, 6 April," said the statement.

"This will be done in coordination with government policy and the relevant authorities. It goes without saying that all hygiene regulations will be strictly observed."

Bayern are top of the Bundesliga table, four points clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund.

The club's return to training is in line with the Deutsche Fussball Liga's (DFL) recommendation that teams take a break from training until April 5.

Bayern's statement continued: "Training will take place with no members of the public present.

"In order to further slow the spread of the coronavirus, FC Bayern asks fans to continue to follow the instructions of the authorities and therefore please do not come to the FC Bayern training ground."

Bayern Munich president Herbert Hainer expects a significant decrease in transfer fees following the coronavirus pandemic.

Deals worth in excess of €100million have been commonplace in the past four years, with Neymar becoming the world's most expensive player when he joined Paris Saint-Germain for €222m in August 2017.

Bayern have been more conservative but broke their transfer record by splashing out €80m on Lucas Hernandez last year.

Links to Leroy Sane and Timo Werner led to suggestions the Bavarian giants were willing to break the bank again, but Hainer believes the inflation in the market will have been stemmed by the proliferation of COVID-19.

Revenues have dried up for clubs across the world, with players at Bayern, Barcelona, Juventus and Atletico Madrid among those to take pay cuts while football is on hiatus.

Asked about the potential impact of the coronavirus crisis on transfer fees, Hainer told Bayern's 51 magazine: "As I said, although serious predictions are difficult to make, it's obvious there'll be changes. I agree with Uli Hoeness' assumption that transfer fees will decrease. That's just logical.

"When income decreases, there's less money in circulation. And given the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis on people's everyday lives, outrageous sums in the millions are even less justifiable than they already were.

"My hope is that more common sense will be applied here as well. I have to take my hat off to Hasan Salihamidzic and our sporting leadership. They're handling the coronavirus situation very well."

Bayern players agreed to a 20 per cent wage reduction during the Bundesliga suspension, which is scheduled to last until at least April 30.

Hainer acknowledged the situation has put clubs in precarious financial positions, but he is confident Bayern will be able to get through the crisis without "any major damage".

"Of course, the situation is very tense. It's about the existence of individual clubs. And even FC Bayern faces a major financial challenge – that's no secret," said Hainer.

"But our club is in an excellent position. We work day after day to ensure that FC Bayern can navigate through this phase without any major damage.

"Despite this immense task, we're looking to the future with confidence."

Bayern Munich have made "a wise decision" by appointing Hansi Flick on a permanent basis, says Jupp Heynckes.

It was announced on Friday that Flick had signed a contract to be Bayern's head coach until 2023, having taken over from Niko Kovac on an interim basis in November.

Flick, Joachim Low's former Germany assistant, rejuvenated the struggling Bundesliga champions and guided them back to the top of the table, opening up a four-point advantage over second-placed Borussia Dortmund before the coronavirus pandemic brought action to a halt.

He has also led the Bavarian giants into the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal and secured a 3-0 aggregate lead over Chelsea in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Heynckes, who masterminded Bayern's famous treble in 2012-13, believes keeping Flick on permanently was the right choice.

"Bayern made a wise decision by signing Hansi Flick as head coach," Heynckes told DPA.

"For me, he is the ideal coach because he has already had a lot of experience in various positions in football in the past.

"His qualities are professional competence, leadership in all areas, seriousness, solidity and an excellent public demeanour.

"I wish him and Bayern the greatest success in all three competitions."

Robert Lewandowski has made himself the "most complete striker in the world", according to former Borussia Dortmund team-mate Ilkay Gundogan.

The pair were together at Dortmund from 2011 until 2014, before Lewandowski hopped across Germany to join Bayern Munich.

Gundogan left BVB in 2016 for Manchester City, where he plays with Argentina striker Sergio Aguero and Brazil forward Gabriel Jesus.

But he has kept a close eye on Lewandowski's development and now sees the Poland international as being unparallelled in world football.

This season had seen 31-year-old Lewandowski score 25 goals in 23 Bundesliga appearances for Bayern, and 39 goals across all competitions, before the coronavirus pandemic hit Europe.

He was on his way back to fitness after a tibia fracture when the Bundesliga was put on hold.

"It was a huge joy to play with him. He improved again and again," Gundogan told DAZN.

"Technically he was always great, now he also has the coldness. The way he scored the goals is phenomenal.

"For me [he is] currently the best, most complete striker in the world."

Lewandowski recently revealed Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo tried to persuade him to sign for Real Madrid after a Champions League game three years ago.

Achraf Hakimi's agent has denied reports the on-loan Borussia Dortmund full-back's Real Madrid contract has been extended until 2023.

The Morocco international is in the second season of a two-year loan at Dortmund and has impressed in the Bundesliga, particularly this term.

Achraf has scored three times and set up another 10 goals in 25 Bundesliga matches in 2019-20, making him one of the league's most productive creators despite being a defender.

Prior to joining Dortmund on a temporary deal, Achraf made nine LaLiga appearances for Madrid during the 2017-18 season and showed promise.

He has built on that in Germany and reportedly attracted interest from other clubs, with Juventus and Bayern Munich said to be admirers, but claims from Spain that Madrid have already managed to extend his contract until 2023 are apparently false.

"There is no basis at all [for such stories]," Achraf's agent Alejandro Camano told Goal/SPOX. "His contract at Real Madrid is still the same one we negotiated in 2017, which runs until 2022.

"We have to wait. After this misery [the coronavirus pandemic] we will sit together with Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund."

Dani Carvajal has been Madrid's first-choice option at right-back this term, making 22 LaLiga appearances.

The club's depth in that position is otherwise limited, while Achraf can also fill in at left-back.

 

 

 

Hansi Flick has done enough to convince Bayern Munich to make him their permanent head coach, with the club confirming on Friday he had signed a contract until 2023.

A former assistant to Germany coach Joachim Low, Flick steadied the ship in the wake of Niko Kovac's sacking and has gone on to gain the second-best points-per-game record in Bundesliga history at 2.47 – only Pep Guardiola's 2.52 is better.

Bayern have scored 67 goals in their 21 games in all competitions since he took the helm and were on a 15-game unbeaten run when the coronavirus outbreak brought the majority of football in Europe to a halt.

We take a look at the games that may well have convinced Flick's superiors to keep him in the top job for the next three years.

 

November 9, 2019 - Bayern Munich 4-0 Borussia Dortmund

After overseeing a 2-0 Champions League win over Olympiacos in his first game at the helm, Flick's first taste of Bundesliga action came in Der Klassiker against Dortmund.

Despite the change of coach, Robert Lewandowski continued his fine scoring streak by taking his Bundesliga tally to 16 with a double – one goal either side of an effort from Serge Gnabry early in the second half.

An own goal from former Bayern defender Mats Hummels capped a resounding victory.

Lewandowski said: "Hansi Flick did a great job in just a few days to set us up tactically very well. The players believed directly in him and his words, he has breathed a new life into us."

During the international break that was followed it was confirmed Flick would stay on until at least Christmas.

 

December 11, 2019 – Bayern Munich 3-1 Tottenham

Flick went on to rack up four straight wins to start his tenure, but back-to-back defeats to Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach left Bayern seventh in the Bundesliga and seven points off top.

They quickly got back on track with a 3-1 win over Tottenham in a Champions League group-stage clash at the Allianz Arena.

Kingsley Coman scored the opener but was forced off in the 27th minute with a knee injury that kept him out for two months.

Thomas Muller and Philippe Coutinho made sure of the win after Ryan Sessegnon's equaliser, with Lewandowski remaining an unused substitute as Bayern reached the last 16 with maximum points.

 

February 1, 2020 – Mainz 1-3 Bayern Munich

Bayern confirmed Flick would see out the campaign during the mid-season break and this victory over Mainz made it seven straight successes in all competitions.

The reigning Bundesliga champions effectively put the game to bed within 26 minutes – Lewandowski, Muller and Thiago Alcantara scoring during a rampant first-half showing.

Most importantly, though, it sent the Bavarian giants to the top of the table and there has been no moving them since.

 

February 25, 2020 – Chelsea 0-3 Bayern Munich

A last-16 tie with Chelsea in the Champions League looked sure to provide plenty of entertainment and the first leg at Stamford Bridge was tightly poised at half-time.

Gnabry struck twice in the space of three minutes early in the second half to break the game open and Lewandowski's instinctive finish in the closing stages ensured Bayern left west London with a healthy aggregate lead.

The result carried even more weight given that it was the first time the teams had met in Europe's premier club competition since Chelsea defeated Bayern in the final at the Allianz Arena in 2012.

 

February 29, 2020 – Hoffenheim 0-6 Bayern Munich

Lewandowski suffered a broken tibia in his left leg against Chelsea and was consequently ruled out for approximately one month.

The Poland international had scored 39 goals in 33 appearances in all competitions for Bayern in 2019-20, but his team-mates stepped up to the mark in their first game without him.

In a match that was overshadowed by demonstrations against Hoffenheim owner Dietmar Hopp that forced a stoppage in play, Gnabry, Joshua Kimmich and Joshua Zirkzee – who was making his first Bundesliga start – struck inside the opening 15 minutes and Coutinho made it 4-0 by half-time.

Coutinho doubled his tally early in the second half and Leon Goretzka rounded off a triumph that sent out a message to Bayern's title rivals.

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