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.

Neymar, Lautaro Martinez or both? Barcelona may have a decision to make this close season.

Neymar has been linked with a return to Camp Nou, while the LaLiga giants are also reportedly interested in Inter star Martinez.

Barcelona could be forced to choose between the two in the next transfer window.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR, MARTINEZ OR BOTH? BARCELONA'S BIG DECISION

Barcelona want both Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar and Inter's Martinez but know it will be difficult to land the duo, according to Sport.

It reports landing Martinez is shaping to be easier as Inter are willing to accept players as part of a deal.

Martinez has scored 16 goals in 31 games for Inter this season, while Neymar has netted 18 times in 22 appearances for PSG.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United could be turning to an old target. ESPN reports the Premier League club are prepared to make a bid for Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt if the Serie A giants are open to a sale this close season.

- Harry Kane's future at Tottenham seemingly remains unclear. But The Daily Mail says Spurs are confident of keeping the forward, who said on Monday he would not stay at the club just "for the sake of it".

- It looks like Jadon Sancho to Liverpool will not be happening. The Mirror claims the Premier League leaders are not targeting the Borussia Dortmund star, leaving United and Chelsea as the English clubs still in the chase.

- Where will Philippe Coutinho end up next season? Sport reports Leicester City are interested in a loan deal for the playmaker, who is on loan at Bayern Munich from Barcelona. Staying at Camp Nou and Sport says Barcelona are considering a move for Layvin Kurzawa, who is out of contract at PSG at season's end, as a back-up to Jordi Alba.

- Edinson Cavani is also out of contract at the end of the season at PSG, but CalcioMercato reports the Uruguayan striker will not be joining Atletico Madrid, the club he has been linked to.

- With Alexis Sanchez set to return to Manchester United from his loan spell at Inter, The Sun reports the club will be forced to pay the attacker a £1.1million loyalty payment.

Joshua Kimmich feels high-profile footballers have "a certain responsibility" to play their part in the fight against coronavirus.

Earlier this month, Bayern Munich and Germany midfielder Kimmich set up an initiative along with club and international team-mate Leon Goretzka called 'We Kick Corona', a fund for charities and social institutions during the COVID-19 crisis.

There have been 2,000 donors to the cause, including Robert Lewandowski, who pledged €1million euros along with his wife, and the total has now surpassed €3.5m, with Mats Hummels, Leroy Sane and Timo Werner listed among the supporters on the initiative's website.

Bayern, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen have also vowed to make a €20m pot available to Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga clubs who may struggle financially due to the leagues' suspensions.

"As a soccer player you have a certain responsibility," Kimmich said in an interview for Bayern's website.

"We also have the scope to move forward in terms of solidarity. Leon and I, and now the FC Bayern Munich team, have naturally thought about how we can help - both our own employees and the society outside the club.

"Therefore we started the initiative and hope that we can help many people who need help during this time."

There have been over 66,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Germany, which, like most of Europe, has implemented a lockdown in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Bayern's players are therefore training remotely and Kimmich has been pleasantly surprised by how well those virtual sessions have gone.

"In the beginning I was very sceptical whether the cyber training would work," he admitted.

"But you have to say that it is fun. It's a good opportunity for us to keep in touch with the players.

"Everyone is there, you can see each other on your mobile phone or whatever device you are logged in with.

"You have to compliment the fitness trainers at this point because it works really well.

"We players sweat a lot, give everything and every player pulls along very well."

Europe's top five leagues have been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic and there is widespread uncertainty over the future of the 2019-20 season.

Will tournaments be completed when conditions are suitable? Will things finish as they are? Will the campaign be declared null and void?

With the help of Opta, we look back over the previous 10 seasons to see who would have been crowned champions if the Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga had stopped where there are now.

 

Aguer-no!

It was an iconic moment in Premier League history. Sergio Aguero scored Manchester City's second stoppage-time goal as they came from behind to defeat QPR 3-2 and clinch their first top-flight title in 44 years, beating crestfallen arch-rivals Manchester United to the trophy on the final day of the season.

However, if the campaign had been stopped where it is now it would have been United who were celebrating due to a one-point advantage.

It is the only occasion since 2009-10 that the team on top after 29 matchdays has not won the Premier League.

 

Atleti's title wiped out

Atletico Madrid incredibly broke the Barcelona and Real Madrid duopoly in LaLiga in 2013-14, with Diego Godin salvaging a draw at Camp Nou on the final day to ensure they finished top of the pile.

However, it was local rivals Real Madrid, led by Carlo Ancelotti, who sat three points clear after 27 games of the season, meaning Diego Simeone's crowning achievement would not have occurred.

The only other instance of a team being displaced in the final 11 matches came in 2009-10, when Madrid sat ahead of Barca on goal difference but ended up seeing Pep Guardiola's men go on to win LaLiga for a second straight season.

 

Juventus dominance broken up

Eight straight Serie A titles have seen Juventus create history in Italy, but they would have only managed five if the previous seasons stopped after 26 games – the total the majority of clubs have completed in 2019-20.

The Bianconeri went undefeated under Antonio Conte in 2011-12, although it was Milan who topped the table at this point in the campaign, meaning Massimiliano Allegri would have won successive Scudetti at San Siro.

Maurizio Sarri would also not have had to have waited until winning the Europa League with Chelsea last year for his first major title.

Sarri's Napoli only surrendered top spot to Juve on matchday 27 in 2017-18 and they failed to recover it, missing out on their best chance to finish top since the Diego Maradona era.

 

QSI off to the perfect start

The landscape of Ligue 1 changed dramatically when Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) bought Paris Saint-Germain in June 2011, although no silverware was added to the Parc des Princes trophy cabinet in the first season following the takeover.

However, they would have been crowned champions had the 2011-12 season finished after 28 games, denying a Montpellier side powered by the goals of Olivier Giroud an unlikely first Ligue 1 title.

There would have been bad news for PSG in 2014-15, though, as the trophy would have gone to Hubert Fournier's Lyon due to a one-point margin.

Bordeaux would have made it back-to-back titles in 2009-10, too, with Marseille having made the most of a collapse that saw Laurent Blanc's side slip from first to sixth over the final 10 matches.

 

Bundesliga business as usual

What changes with the Bundesliga title winners if you stop the previous 10 seasons after 25 games? Nothing.

Bayern Munich would have won eight championships to Borussia Dortmund's two.

Daniel Levy is known as a difficult negotiator.

The Tottenham chairman squeezed every penny out of United when the Red Devils turned to Dimitar Berbatov in 2008.

United also reportedly pulled out of the running for Luka Modric, who joined Real Madrid in 2012, as they did not want to haggle with Levy.

However, United could be ready to lock horns with Levy over Harry Kane's signature.

 

TOP STORY – WOODWARD READY TO BATTLE LEVY FOR KANE

Manchester United and Ed Woodward are ready to battle for the signing of Tottenham star Harry Kane, according to the Evening Standard.

Kane is reportedly considering his future at Tottenham and the England international striker is believed to be open to a switch to United at the end of the season.

United are yet to permanently replace Romelu Lukaku and Red Devils executive vice-chairman Woodward reportedly wants to lock horns with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.

 

ROUND-UP

- Could United beat Borussia Dortmund to Jude Bellingham? Birmingham City's 16-year-old sensation Bellingham visited United's training ground on Monday and reportedly spoke to former manager Alex Ferguson as the Red Devils ramp up their interest. Bellingham is valued at around £30million.

- David Beckham's Inter Miami want to sign Manchester City star David Silva, reports The Mirror. Silva, out of contract at the end of the season, has been linked to fellow MLS franchise New York City – who are the sister club of Manchester City and part of the City Football Group.

- Tuttosport claims Juventus are targeting Valencia attacker Ferran Torres. The 20-year-old has also been linked to LaLiga champions Barcelona, Real Madrid and Premier League leaders Liverpool.

United are prepared to pay £70m for Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish, says The Mirror. Grealish has emerged as one of United's prime transfer targets and the Red Devils are ready to test Villa's resolve as the Premier League strugglers face relegation.

Paris Saint-Germain continue to target Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly. PSG have identified Koulibaly as Thiago Silva's replacement but Calciomercato says it will be difficult for the Ligue 1 holders to lower Napoli's demands. Koulibaly – also linked to the likes of United, Madrid, Tottenham and Manchester City – reportedly has a €150m termination clause.

- Kicker says Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich are considering signing on-loan Inter winger Ivan Perisic at season's end.

Barcelona know what they want to do with Philippe Coutinho should the attacker return to the club from Bayern Munich.

Coutinho is on a season-long loan at the Bundesliga club, who have an option to buy the Brazil international at the end of the campaign.

But Barca reportedly already have plans in place if the 27-year-old comes back to Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA PLAN TO USE COUTINHO AS MAKEWEIGHT IF HE RETURNS

Barcelona will use Coutinho as a makeweight in any of the huge deals they are planning in the close season, according to Sport.

The LaLiga giants are reportedly again targeting Neymar, who was linked with a return but ended up staying at Paris Saint-Germain last year.

PSG and Liverpool are rumoured to be interested in Coutinho, although Bayern have a €120million option to buy the playmaker.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus' interest in Mauro Icardi is ongoing. CalcioMercato reports Juve still want the forward, who is on loan at PSG from Inter, with the Ligue 1 club holding a €70m purchase option. Goal reports Juventus are also monitoring Santos teenager Kaio Jorge, who has a €50m release clause.

- Linked with a move to Bayern Munich, Leroy Sane may yet remain at Manchester City. The Telegraph reports the attacker, who has been sidelined with a serious knee injury, will consider staying at the Premier League club beyond this season.

- Hirving Lozano's Napoli stay may be short-lived. Corriere dello Sport reports Atletico Madrid have their sights set on the Mexico international, who is out of favour under Gennaro Gattuso in his first season at the Serie A club.

- Having dealt with defensive problems this season, Manchester City seemingly have a solution in mind. CalcioMercato reports the Premier League giants are ready to again make a move for Inter defender Milan Skriniar, a player they have been linked to previously.

- Already up to 15 goals this season, Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin appears set to be rewarded for his good form. The Times report the 22-year-old – apparently a target for Manchester United previously – is ready to sign a deal until 2025 with the Premier League club.

- Arsenal have started talks over a move for Feyenoord's 19-year-old playmaker Orkun Kokcu for £23m (€26.5m), according to the Daily Mail.

Niklas Sule has begun training with a ball again as the Bayern Munich defender continues his recovery from a knee injury.

The 24-year-old has not played since rupturing an anterior cruciate ligament in October and it was initially feared he could miss the rest of the domestic season and Euro 2020.

Sule suggested his recovery was ahead of schedule in December as he vowed to return to fitness in time to make Joachim Low's Germany squad for the tournament.

On Thursday, the centre-back said he felt "fantastic" to be out on the pitch with a football at Bayern's Sabener Strasse training base, despite the inclement weather.

"After more than four months, it feels great to be back on the ball again. It's really fantastic," Sule told the club's website.

"It could have snowed today or [Storm] Sabine could have returned, but I wouldn't have cared. I'm just happy to be training with the ball again and taking the next steps in my rehab.

"So far I haven't had any problems at all. I've made a lot of controlled movements with the ball, and next week we’ll gradually introduce directional changes with the ball as well."

There was a further boost for Bayern as Javi Martinez and Lucas Hernandez put in extra work despite having a scheduled day off.

Martinez returned to the squad for the 6-0 Bundesliga win at Hoffenheim last weekend, having been out since December with a thigh problem, while Hernandez has been struggling with a ligament complaint.

Bayern hope both defenders will be available for Sunday's game with Augsburg.

Kingsley Coman, who pulled a muscle in the 3-0 win at Chelsea in the first leg of the Champions League last 16, is also hoping to be available for this weekend's match after resuming running this week.

Bayern, who are three points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, will then head to Union Berlin on March 14 before the second leg at home to Chelsea four days later.

They then host Eintracht Frankfurt before the latest international break.

Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick was satisfied with his team's performance after edging Schalke 1-0 in the DFB-Pokal quarter-finals.

Joshua Kimmich's 40th-minute goal proved to be enough as Bayern dominated possession at the Veltins Arena on Tuesday.

Despite the narrow victory, Flick was happy to move into the last four as Bayern remained on track for a second straight DFB-Pokal crown.

"My team played very well and very intelligently. I am satisfied with the way we won this game," he said, via the club's website.

"We played against a Schalke side that played very defensively. Nevertheless, we created chances and did very well overall, during the game we had over 80 per cent possession.

"At the end of the day, it's always important in the cup that you progress. We're in the semi-finals, so I'm very proud of my team. The players are in good spirits, they're in good form.

"We didn't want to change much. We'll start to recover now, the boys will have a day and a half off and then we'll start our preparations for the game against Augsburg."

Kimmich drilled an effort into the bottom corner from the edge of the area after a corner was cleared into his path before half-time.

The defender acknowledged it was a tough encounter, but felt Bayern deserved their win.

"I don't think it was possible to roll over opponents like the side we faced because Schalke played very deep and narrowed lots of space. It was not always possible to play fast and directly," Kimmich said.

"We tried to, but not everything worked out. We also had two or three dangerous counters against us. All in all, it was still a well-deserved victory.

"I'm happy that I made it 1-0 and that the game ended like that. At that moment you just go for it and hope that it goes in."

Top of the Bundesliga, Bayern host Augsburg on Sunday.

Bayern Munich are into the DFB-Pokal semi-finals for an 11th successive season thanks to a hard-fought 1-0 win at Bundesliga rivals Schalke on Tuesday.

David Wagner's Schalke certainly had their moments at the Veltins Arena, especially in the first half, but Bayern were more clinical and their superior quality told in the end to continue the defence of their crown.

Despite having far more of the ball, Bayern were fortunate to survive a few first-half scares as Guido Burgstaller proved particularly dangerous when hitting the crossbar and having a goal chalked off, but the visitors went into the break ahead thanks to Joshua Kimmich's strike.

The home side were significantly less effective going forward in the second half and Bayern should have increased the advantage, but the one-goal lead was enough to secure progression.

Schalke had the better of the thrilling early exchanges, as Alessandro Schopf curled just wide before Burgstaller struck the bar and then also had a goal disallowed for straying marginally offside.

Bayern dominated possession, having 83 per cent of it in the first half, but their first genuine chance actually came via a Schalke defender – Jean-Clair Todibo back-tracking to meet Kimmich's cross and his headed clearance forced Markus Schubert into a wonderful acrobatic stop.

Schubert was helpless from the resulting corner, however, the set-piece cleared as far as Kimmich on the edge of the box and his effort found the bottom-left corner through a crowd of players.

Philippe Coutinho almost extended Bayern's lead just past the hour, his long-range curling effort coming back off the bar a few minutes before Benito Raman shot tamely at Manuel Neuer when one-on-one following a bursting run from Rabbi Matondo.

Former Schalke midfielder Leon Goretzka went close to a remarkable goal 18 minutes from time – his overhead-kick from about 16 yards clipping the bar, but Bayern were not made to rue that misfortune.

What does it mean? Bayern unconvincing at the back

Although Bayern managed to hold on to a clean sheet, they were caused genuine problems in the first half against a Schalke team struggling for form – indeed, they had won only once in the regulation 90 minutes since the turn of the year.

Schalke arguably did enough to lead at the break, with Bayern's backline lacking concentration at times. A better team might not have been as wasteful.

All-action Kimmich is everywhere

It is nothing new to anyone accustomed to watching him, but there seems to be nothing Kimmich cannot do. He attempted – and completed – more passes than anyone else, had the most touches, created the joint-most chances (two) and got the winning goal.

Muller offers little

Thomas Muller got the nod ahead of youngster Joshua Zirkzee in the absence of Robert Lewandowski, but the experienced forward was quiet, having just a single shot – which he should have done better with – in the entire game. A hapless short-corner attempt summed up his day, as he failed to even get the pass in play.

What's next?

Bayern host Augsburg as they return to Bundesliga action on Sunday, while Schalke will be hoping to end their miserable form at home to Hoffenheim the day before.

Bayern Munich head coach Hansi Flick is hoping on-field issues are the focus against Schalke on Tuesday - although he conceded further fan protests are a possibility.

Flick's men handed out a 6-0 thrashing to Hoffenheim on Saturday but the result was overshadowed by protests from the Bayern ultras, who held up offensive banners towards the home club's owner Dietmar Hopp.

After the referee took the players off the pitch to wait for the banners' removal following appeals from the Bayern players, the two teams saw out the rest of the match by passing the ball among themselves as a show of solidarity towards Hopp.

Flick, and chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, apologised after the match for what they described as "ugly" and shameful protests and the former wants everyone to turn their attention to the DFB-Pokal quarter-final against Schalke in Gelsenkirchen.

He told reporters: "We are here because we want to play football.

"The performance [against Hoffenheim] was spoiled by our own fans with actions that I don't approve of and it has to be tackled.

"Everyone has to pull together but I want to concentrate on sport again."

Asked if he thought that would be the end of protests against billionaire owners in the Bundesliga following accusations certain clubs are circumnavigating league rules on ownership, Flick replied: "No, but it's important the club continues to talk about this.

"If something happens we have to speak the same language in our reaction. We have to communicate that internally and there should not be two opinions on how that will look."

 

Bayern's weekend win and RB Leipzig's failure to beat Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday means Flick has transformed a previously underachieving side with the defending champions now sitting three points clear at the top of the Bundesliga.

And he is hoping for more of the same against a Schalke team beaten 3-0 at Cologne on Saturday.

He added: "The last two games showed the football we can play. That's the benchmark and of course you want to see that all the time as a coach.

"The team are making a big impression, both physically and in the way they play. It all adds up.

"It is obvious that we want to go to Berlin [for the final] in the DFB-Pokal, to be champions in the Bundesliga and to go as far as possible in the Champions League."

Demonstrations against Hoffenheim owner Dietmar Hopp from Bayern Munich fans overshadowed their thumping 6-0 Bundesliga victory on Saturday.

The two sides played out time in bizarre scenes after the match was twice interrupted and the players were taken off the field.

Insulting chants and banners were directed at Hopp, an unpopular figure due to his financing of the home club, from spectators in the away end on Saturday.

The game was paused as a banner was unveiled in the final 20 minutes, with Bayern players and officials pleading with supporters to stop so the game could continue.

Play resumed for a brief period, before referee Christian Dingert directed the teams towards the dressing rooms due to the continued protests, prompting Oliver Khan and Hasan Salihamidzic to head onto the pitch and also implore with followers of the Bavarian giants.

The sides eventually returned to the field, and all 22 players convened in the centre of the pitch to see out time with a round of applause, while passing and juggling the ball between themselves and clapping along with fans.

Hopp also headed onto the pitch and shook hands with Bayern officials and the referee, who finally blew up in a strange conclusion to a one-sided match.

Leaders Bayern put Hoffenheim to the sword, adapting seamlessly to life without the injured Robert Lewandowski as 18-year-old Joshua Zirkzee scored on his first Bundesliga start.

Bayern Munich were hammering Hoffenheim 6-0 when the Bundesliga match was halted in the second half due to insulting chants and banners aimed at Dietmar Hopp.

With Bayern coasting to victory in a dominant display, referee Christian Dingert paused the match as a banner was unfurled in the away end.

Borussia Dortmund fans were previously banned from matches at Rhein-Neckar-Arena for a similar protest against Hoffenheim owner Hopp, an unpopular figure among some German football fans due to his financing of the club.

Bayern players entered the stands to implore the supporters to remove the banner, with head coach Hansi Flick racing across the pitch to join his team.

The banner was initially removed and the chanting paused, but the insults resumed and official Dingert directed the players back to the dressing rooms.

Hansi Flick says Bayern Munich must "become closer together as a team" in star striker Robert Lewandowski's absence, while Joshua Zirkzee could get his first-team chance.

Lewandowski has been a near ever-present in his six-year Bayern career, but the 31-year-old has been ruled out for four weeks after suffering a knee injury against Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Bayern have a 3-0 first-leg lead in their European tie but are engaged in a tense Bundesliga title tussle, meaning the loss of a striker who has scored 39 goals in all competitions comes as a weighty blow.

Interim head coach Flick did not hide from the significance of the setback as he addressed the media ahead of Saturday's match against Hoffenheim, also discussing Kingsley Coman's status after he hobbled off at Chelsea.

"With Kingsley, we hope that he will only be out for five days. Robert's situation is different," Flick told a news conference.

"Of course, Robert has shown what quality he has, not just in front of goal. The past few games have also shown that he is someone who fits perfectly into the team.

"He is a source of inspiration for who we are defensively, too, and therefore he is so important to us.

"It is crucial that we all become closer together as a team now and successfully use the time that he is missing."

Flick would not confirm how Bayern will line up at Hoffenheim - although Philippe Coutinho will feature - but Serge Gnabry, Thomas Muller and 18-year-old Zirkzee are all in his thinking for a central striking role.

The Netherlands youth international has already scored twice in the Bundesliga but has made just three fleeting substitute appearances.

"There are a lot of considerations," Flick said on Friday. "But it is always good if the opponent puzzles over something and does not get all the information.

"Serge is of course a candidate, and Thomas could also play in this position. We leave that open.

"Joshua Zirkzee is also a player who is in the squad and will therefore be included in the considerations. We need him in the squad because we are not richly blessed in that position."

Hansi Flick appears to have a long-term future as Bayern Munich head coach after a not-so-cryptic clue from CEO Karl-Heinze Rummenigge.

Bayern appointed Flick as interim boss following the dismissal of Niko Kovac in November and a month later announced he would stay in charge until the end of the season.

Under Flick, Bayern have returned to the top of the Bundesliga and a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Chelsea in Tuesday's Champions League last-16 first-leg tie at Stamford Bridge means they have one foot firmly in the quarter-finals.

Flick celebrated his 55th birthday a day before Bayern's fixture in west London and received a gift at a banquet after the game from Rummenigge, who hinted it was a sign of an extended stay.

"Our coach turned 55 yesterday [Monday]," Rummenigge said. 

"This is a good age. We'll give you a pen in this red packet. Sometimes you sign papers with pens."

He added: "Stay how you are. We are very, very happy with how the team is playing, as well as with the results and the football they are playing."

Bayern have lost just twice in the Bundesliga under Flick and sit one point clear of RB Leipzig after 23 matches.

Serge Gnabry says he always enjoys returning to London, after he scored twice in Bayern Munich's 3-0 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Gnabry netted four times in a 7-2 rout of Tottenham in October during Bayern's last trip to the English capital and the Germany international – a former Arsenal player – shined once more on his return to London.

The forward scored Bayern's opening two goals in the space of three second-half minutes, with the excellent Alphonso Davies teeing up Robert Lewandowski with 14 minutes remaining.

"I certainly do," Gnabry told BT Sport when asked if he enjoys playing in London. "I have a lot of friends here. A lot of them were in the stands tonight and I think they were giving me good power.

"So of course, I always enjoy coming back!"

Bayern have one foot in the last eight ahead of the second leg on March 18, though Gnabry insists the Bundesliga leaders will not allow any complacency to creep in even with a three-goal cushion.

"Three goals should give us a lot of confidence. We need to be prepared for the second leg and we can't take it serious enough," he added.

"We saw last season with Liverpool beating Barcelona after a 3-0 advantage, we know we have to be careful, we have to go into the second leg with all of our focus.

"We knew we had to be patient, we had the game in control even in the first half, had a couple of chances and didn't take them, but we knew we'd get our chances and in the end we took them.

In his post-match news conference, Bayern coach Hansi Flick was asked whether he found it strange that Arsenal had allowed Gnabry to leave for Werder Bremen back in 2016.

"No I'm happy," said Flick, who also confirmed Kingsley Coman had suffered a muscular strain and would require five days' rest.

It was a sentiment echoed by Thomas Muller, who is delighted to playing alongside a player in such fine form as Gnabry.

"I'm happy he is scoring so much in London now and not five years ago, because if that were the case he probably wouldn't be with us now," Muller told Sky Sport.

Page 1 of 14
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.