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Beware the new boys

Klinsmann: Hoffenheim are title contenders

The Bayern squad returned to the training ground on Monday after a day’s recuperation, but before Jürgen Klinsmann began preparing his men for their next match on Wednesday, he sat down with for a detailed analysis of the weekend victory over Wolfsburg. The coach singled out Michael Rensing and Miroslav Klose for special praise, issued a stern warning regarding the club’s next opponents, and named promoted 1899 Hoffenheim, shock leaders in the Bundesliga, as serious rivals for the league title.

Jürgen Klinsmann on…

…a day off for the players on Sunday: “It was always planned, but we didn’t tell the players. We wanted it to be a treat for a job well done. Up to now, and partially due to our bumpy pre-season, we’ve not had many days off.“

…the team’s progress: “In terms of fitness, we’re where we want to be. The decisive factor over the next few weeks will be our desire to go to the limit every time, always giving it 100 percent. It’s a big ask for the players to pull out all the stops every three or four days, but that’s why we’re at Bayern and that’s why we’ll succeed.“

…Miroslav Klose: “Miro is very dependent on his fitness. He’s worked really hard on it over the last few weeks. He’s vital to us, because he’s a provider for the team. Even on an off day, he works his heart out for the team. I don’t judge him solely on goals. Obviously, I want my strikers to score goals, but it’s also about his contribution to the team. He’s set up three goals against Wolfsburg, and we’re delighted with that. However, it won’t happen unless he feels good and able to express this freshness and vigour. That’s why we’re expecting great things from him over the coming weeks and months.“

…Michael Rensing: “It’s obvious Michael’s heading in the right direction. The odd mistake is part of the maturing process. If he’s making saves like the one against [Jonathan] Santana, we’re thrilled over on the bench, and we’re saying: first rate Michael, that was the next step. Those are key situations, when you see his confidence soaring. What he has to do at the moment is earn the respect of his team-mates, especially the defenders, of course. He’ll only do that with consistently excellent displays in training and matches. Every safely-taken shot, every decent catch and every solid punch sends out a signal to his team-mates: it’s me, I’m here! And I’m a solid last line of defence.“

…Wednesday’s game in Frankfurt: “We’re expecting a very, very tough match in a seething cauldron. I can imagine Frankfurt focusing mainly on defence, so we’ll be asked to take the initiative in any case. We need to move the ball at speed and look for gaps in their defence. We have to go there with the right mental attitude, and be prepared to go to the limit. It won’t be a walkover, it’ll be a really tricky encounter. But we’re there or thereabouts now, and we have to keep it up to get to where we want to be in the table.“

…league leaders Hoffenheim: “Right at the start of the season, before a ball had been kicked, I said Hoffenheim were contenders for a place in Europe at the minimum. Their team has been meticulously put together according to a solid strategic plan, and they’ll go a long way. TSG are full of quality, the club is solid as a rock, and they’re under no pressure from the media. No-one expects miracles from their players, so they’re good for surprise after surprise every week. They’ll finish in the top five – and on the evidence of the first nine games, you’ve got to assume they’re genuine rivals and contenders for the title.“