Hansi Flick's Bayern Munich reign went from 0-60 at break-neck speed, as within 11 months of being appointing as caretaker boss, he'd essentially won everything.

It was the kind of impact that makes managers club legends, his influence all the more notable given the how underwhelming performances had been during Niko Kovac's ultimately ill-fated spell at the helm.

All that remains for Flick to win now of course is the Club World Cup, which Bayern will make their return to for the first time since 2013 when they go up against Al Ahly in the semi-finals on Monday.

While Bayern's preparations for the tournament haven't been ideal, given they were only in Bundesliga action on Friday and had their departure significantly delayed, they've arrived in Qatar as clear favourites.

It may well prove a welcome distraction for the time being, with talk over Flick's future beginning to become a minor irritant for all involved.

While the outcome of their efforts in this tournament won't directly lead to Flick leaving, failure will surely see the issue thrust into the spotlight.

An ally's departure

It seems astonishing that there is even a hint of doubt regarding Flick's future at Bayern given the trophies he's won and the swift implementation of a vibrant brand of football.

But with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the club's chairman, set to vacate his position at the end of the season, reports in Germany suggest Flick will lose his closest ally in the hierarchy.

Additionally, Rummenigge's incoming replacement – Oliver Kahn – is not someone Flick is said to be particularly close with, while his relationship with sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has been called into question.

Flick eased links with the Germany job last week when he insisted he wouldn't leave Bayern "for that", but considering his strong impact on Bayern in a short period of time, the German Football Federation won't be the only interested party if the 55-year-old decides to move later this year.

Clashing over signings

Much of the speculation relating to Flick's supposedly poor relationship with those above him is centred on Salihamidzic, the man in charge of the signings. Even if the rumours are wide of the mark, it's easy to see why there might be disagreements.

None of Bayern's pre-season signings can claim to have tied down a regular place in the starting XI this season, not even Leroy Sane, who has made just nine Bundesliga starts.

Marc Roca and Bouna Sarr have played just six times between them, Douglas Costa has started three league games and Alexander Nubel – perhaps unsurprisingly – hasn't ousted Manuel Neuer between the posts.

But it goes back further than that. Lucas Hernandez, an €80million purchase in 2019, is still not a regular pick in defence (10 starts this season) despite such a significant outlay.

In the case of Sane, he is proving to be less effective as a creative outlet than all of his fellow wingers in the Bayern squad, with his 1.6 chances created per 90 minutes fewer than Costa (1.7), Serge Gnabry (1.9) and Kingsley Coman (2.4).

If Rummenigge's departure leaves Flick without significant backing higher up, perhaps he'll opt to jump before he's pushed.

The distraction

Regardless of what happens in Qatar, or in the remaining months of the season for that matter, Flick will have a CV unlike many other managers in the game should he take the opportunity to follow Rummenigge out of the door.

They enjoyed a clean sweep last season with their Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League treble, before adding UEFA Super Cup and DFL-Supercup at the start of 2020-21.

The Club World Cup is the only one that remains, and if they manage to lift the trophy it will be Flick's sixth title in 68 champions – that's one every 11 matches on average.

It's hardly make or break, with this competition arguably inconsequential when it comes to Bayern's major targets at the start of the season.

But from Flick's perspective, the opportunity to complete the set is one he won't want to pass up.

Ricardo Ferretti hailed his team as mighty Mexican outfit Tigres made history by powering through to the Club World Cup final.

Tigres became the first team from the CONCACAF region – covering North and Central America and the Caribbean – to reach the showpiece match of FIFA's top club tournament.

Andre-Pierre Gignac's penalty early in the second half gave Tigres the result their performance richly deserved, a 1-0 victory over Palmeiras.

The match-winning French striker had earlier been denied by two outstanding first-half saves by Palmeiras goalkeeper Weverton, who came up for a last-gasp corner and headed over a difficult chance to equalise.

The club from the city of San Nicolas de los Garza will face Bayern Munich or Al Ahly in Thursday's final, with the reigning European and African champions going head to head in Monday's second semi-final.

Ferretti said: "The victory gave us an opportunity to reach the final. We faced two great teams, and the next one will be also a great team, and we will face them in the same way.

"I feel calm and happy for the win and excited as everyone. I don't like celebrating before time, we still have to play a game, the most important one is the next one. Naturally we know how capable will be the team we will face.

"Now, we have to get ready, the players have to recover physically, but not emotionally because they feel good. We will get ready these days to reach the end goal."

Palmeiras head coach Abel Ferreira complained that the penalty decision was "dubious", suggesting the tug by Luan on Carlos Gonzalez was not sufficient to justify a spot-kick.

He said: "It was not a clear grab although it existed, but this is not basketball, they won a penalty and from there they defended themselves.

"We had some chances but we couldn't get it right and I have to say without problems that they were slightly superior and the game is solved with a detail by the experience of a great player.

"We know we could do better individually. We came here on our own merit, we have a good mix of young and experienced people. But today we have to apologise to our people and assume that our rival was slightly superior in general and, I repeat, the game is resolved by a dubious penalty."

Andre-Pierre Gignac fired Tigres through to the Club World Cup final as his penalty secured a 1-0 win over South American champions Palmeiras.

The 35-year-old former Marseille striker was hugely impressive in a thrilling game, and his reward came from the spot in the 54th minute, with Mexican giants Tigres full value for their victory.

It means the CONCACAF Champions League winners will face face Al Ahly or Bayern Munich in the final on Thursday.

Tigres were overwhelmingly the dominant side in the first half at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, with Copa Libertadores winners Palmeiras kept in the game thanks to three terrific saves from goalkeeper Weverton.

The Brazil international denied Carlos Gonzalez inside the first five minutes by repelling the Paraguayan striker's meaty header.

Weverton then denied Gignac twice in four minutes, first pushing the ball wide for a corner in the 34th minute when the Frenchman looked to bend a shot inside the far right post from a tight angle. A better stop followed as the eye-catching Gignac had a fine header clawed away from the bottom right corner.

Gonzalez had his shirt tugged by Luan for the decisive penalty incident, with Gignac driving his kick into the bottom left corner.

Palmeiras pushed for an equaliser but had at least five men offside from a free-kick before putting the ball in the net, and then Tigres' Luis Rodriguez almost scored in the wrong goal from a low cross, the ball trickling six inches wide. Matias Vina had a shot deflect narrowly wide deep into stoppage time before Weverton, sent up for a corner, headed over from the last big chance.

Qatar Stars League champions Al Duhail earlier secured fifth place by beating K League 1 side Ulsan Hyundai 3-1 in their play-off.

At the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Edmilson Junior gave Al Duhail a 21st-minute lead when he drove through midfield and swept a 25-yard shot into the bottom right corner, only for Yoon Bit-garam to level in the 62nd minute.

Mohammed Muntari restored Al Duhail's lead four minutes later with a volley from Dudu's sublime assist, a scooped ball over the defence, and Almoez Ali cracked in the third eight minutes from the end.

Bayern Munich's preparations for their Club World Cup campaign may not have been ideal but head coach Hansi Flick will not use a seven-hour travel delay as an excuse against Al Ahly. 

Bayern boarded a plane for Doha immediately after Friday's 1-0 victory over Hertha Berlin but did not depart until the following morning after their clearance for take-off was denied. 

The European champions eventually left for the Middle East on Saturday morning and were unable to train when arriving at their destination. 

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge hit out at the local authorities in Berlin for "mucking about" ahead of Monday's semi-final against Al Ahly. 

However, Flick's squad were able to train on the eve of the game and the Bayern boss is ready for the showdown with the reigning CAF Champions League holders. 

"It's not the best preparation, without question," he said at a news conference on Sunday. "Ultimately, the decisive factor is we arrived safely and won't allow any excuses.  

"Of course, it would have been better if we could have arrived sooner. But this morning we did what was planned for yesterday.  

"This afternoon we will have the final training session and will prepare the team for tomorrow's game.

"We will go through the same process as every game. We have an analysis department that prepares information on each opponent for us. 

"The coaches then do the final preparations. We know that they are very offensive with their full-backs and have an impressive coach, whose approach I like very much." 

Bayern are seeking to win the Club World Cup for a second time, having last prevailed in 2013 when beating Raja Casablanca in the final. 

They secured a domestic treble last season and lifted the DFL-Supercup and UEFA Super Cup earlier in this campaign, but Flick insists his players are still hungry to win more trophies. 

"In football, you set goals and then you move on," he said. "We have won five titles and yet you can tell that the team and the coaching team want to take the next step.  

"Success is a process, everyone is involved. We have a very good mentality in the team. They handled the journey very professionally and want to tackle the next goal. 

"We really wanted to play the tournament and it is also our goal to win this tournament. We know that it is associated with a certain burden.  

"But we want to be motivated and it is a big goal to crown the outstanding season with the sixth title. Our goal is to become the best team in the world. 

"The journey yesterday is a thing of the past, we were ready in time. It wasn't nice, but we are looking ahead.  

"The team should use all their strength today so that we can win the semi-final tomorrow move into the final." 

Bayern made the trip to Doha without midfield pair Leon Goretzka and Javi Martinez, who both recently tested positive for coronavirus. 

Opponents Al Ahly knocked out Al Duhail to advance to the semi-finals.

Leon Goretzka and Javi Martinez were not part of the Bayern Munich squad that departed for the Club World Cup on Friday.

Bayern caught a flight to Qatar after their 1-0 victory over Hertha Berlin, which was secured by a deflected first-half strike from Kingsley Coman.

Hansi Flick's side kept a clean sheet thanks to Manuel Neuer's seven saves but they looked vulnerable on the counterattack with Joshua Kimmich anchoring the midfield alone at the Olympiastadion.

Goretzka and Martinez were absent following positive coronavirus tests and they did not travel to Doha with their team-mates.

"We have to look from day to day how things are going for both of them," Flick said.

"Leon is looking a little better, Javi will probably not make it. If not for the first game, then maybe for the second."

Bayern take on Al Ahly on Monday and will contest either the third-place play-off or the final against Palmeiras or Tigres UANL three days later.

The European champions left Germany after opening a 10-point advantage at the Bundesliga summit, though a missed penalty from Robert Lewandowski in the first half against Hertha meant the match was tighter than expected.

"You could tell it would be fiercely contested. Pal Dardai's team fight for every square centimetre," Thomas Muller, who set up Coman to become the first player to reach double figures for goals and assists in the Bundesliga this season, told DAZN.

"We should definitely have scored one or two more goals, so it was a close run thing in the end.

"You can't celebrate in every game. What is striking is that the clean sheet is becoming more and more common."

Bayern Munich will face Al Ahly in the semi-finals of the Club World Cup after the African champions knocked out home favourites Al Duhail on Thursday. 

The clash at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan was settled by a fine strike from Hussein El Shahat 30 minutes in, the winger finding the bottom-left corner from the edge of the box after Bassam Hisham had lost possession. 

Walter Bwalya, who forced the defensive error, tucked away a composed finish but saw the goal disallowed for offside following a VAR review. 

Qatari champions Al Duhail improved after the break, but Pitso Mosimane's men were relatively comfortable as they saw out the 1-0 victory. 

Al Ahly will meet Bayern on Monday as the European champions bid to win the tournament for the second time. 

The other semi-final will see Copa Libertadores holders Palmeiras face Tigres, who defeated Ulsan Hyundai 2-1 in the earlier game. 

The K League 1 side, who won their second AFC Champions League in 2020, went ahead through Kim Kee-hee's 24th-minute header. 

Andre-Pierre Gignac equalised from close range and Tigres' all-time leading goalscorer made it 2-1 from the penalty spot just before half-time. 

The CONCACAF champions will be back in action against Palmeiras on Monday.

Bayern Munich are still waiting on Leon Goretzka and Javi Martinez to return negative coronavirus tests so they can resume first-team duties.

The midfield duo are set to be absent once again for Friday's Bundesliga match at Hertha Berlin after testing positive for COVID-19 last week.

Speaking at a pre-match news conference, head coach Hansi Flick confirmed Martinez's spell of self-isolation is set to end on Wednesday, with Goretzka having to wait until Friday.

After the Hertha game, European champions Bayern will fly to Qatar to commence their Club World Cup campaign.

"With Javi and Leon it is the case that we do a test after the quarantine, I can't comment on that because I don't have the results," he said.

"Javi has to take the test and then it will be determined if he still has the virus in his body. We have to wait from day to day.

"We also know with Leon that it takes a few days longer. He also has to be tested, everything will depend on that."

With or without Goretzka and Martinez, Flick conceded the Club World Cup will place an additional strain upon Bayern within an already condensed schedule.

"Qatar is very stressful, we have the flight and the games on Mondays and Thursdays. It was clear to us that we would not have time for proper training," he said.

"The team, coaching team and club want to win the next title, we all know that it is not easy.

"In addition to getting some vitamin D [sunshine], it is also a change from everyday life, even if the journey is dangerous.

"We want the sixth title in a year, the team would make history."

Flick had some words of encouragement for Niklas Sule, the defender who has only started two of Bayern's past six Bundesliga matches and was recently linked with a move to Chelsea.

"Niklas is an absolute option, whether in the centre or full-back position," he said of the Germany international, who suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament last season.

"He did well at Schalke [last month's 4-0 win where Sule played at right-back]. Don't forget that he had a long injury.

"Niklas is a fast player who is serene on the ball and helps shape the game from behind. Given his size, he has absolute strength and I'm glad he's on our team.

"We will see how everything develops and how he sees his future. I am satisfied with his development, you can rely on him."

Bayern Munich will face either Al-Duhail or Al Ahly in their Club World Cup semi-final on February 8.

The competition's draw took place on Tuesday in Zurich and confirmed European champions Bayern will tackle hosts Al-Duhail or CAF Champions League holders Al Ahly.

Al-Duhail secured their qualification as hosts by winning the Qatar Stars League in 2019-20, with no Qatari side managing to win the AFC Champions League.

Egyptian giants Al Ahly won African club football's biggest prize in November and qualified for the Club World Cup for the sixth time, having last appeared in 2013, which was also Bayern's only previous appearance.

Al-Duhail received a walkover into the second round after Auckland City, who had been nominated as Oceania's representative, pulled out due to coronavirus quarantine measures implemented by authorities in their native New Zealand.

The other second-round clash drawn on Tuesday will see AFC Champions League winners Ulsan Hyundai face CONCACAF champions Tigres of Mexico, who are making their first appearance.

Tigres or Ulsan will go forward from that tie to play the Copa Libertadores champions – Santos and Palmeiras are due to face off in an all-Brazilian final of that competition on January 30.

Auckland City have withdrawn from the 2020 FIFA Club World Cup.

The New Zealand club had been nominated as the Oceania Football Confederation's (OFC) representative for the tournament in Qatar, which is scheduled to begin on February 1.

However, the quarantine measures in place in New Zealand in relation to the coronavirus pandemic have led Auckland to pull out.

They had been set to face Al-Duhail in the opening game but that contest will now not take place.

A FIFA statement read: "FIFA has today [Friday] been informed by Auckland City FC that, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and related quarantine measures required by the New Zealand authorities, the club will be unable to participate in the FIFA Club World Cup 2020.

"Despite FIFA's regular exchanges with the club, New Zealand Football and the OFC in recent days, the requirements of the New Zealand authorities in relation to isolation and quarantine go beyond FIFA's remit and, therefore, it was not possible to reach a solution.

"FIFA together with the Qatari authorities, will implement a comprehensive medical and security protocol providing the safeguards required to protect the health and safety of everyone involved in the competition.

"Following the withdrawal of Auckland City, the FIFA Club World Cup 2020 will be contested by Al-Duhail SC, Al Ahly SC, FC Bayern Munich, Ulsan Hyundai FC, Tigres UANL and the winners of the CONMEBOL Libertadores final scheduled for 30 January.

"The first-round match will no longer take place and Al-Duhail SC will begin the competition in the second round. The competition format remains otherwise unchanged.

"The draw to finalise the pairings will take place in Zurich on 19 January at 16:00 CET."

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