Bayern Munich manager Jupp Heynckes has heaped praise on Barcelona ahead of their UEFA Champions League semi-final.
The 67-year-old admitted facing the Catalan giants was a daunting task given their recent dominance in Europe, and spoke of his admiration for the whole set-up the club have in place to develop their stars.
“I guess it’s nothing new if I say that Barcelona not only stamped the European football in the last years, they even ruled it,” he said.
“I think it’s a team that has got a special philosophy of football and a clear concept.
“They’ve got many players that have been educated at La Masia for many years. They’ve not only formed top players, they also know each other very well on an interpersonal level.
“The longer the players play together the better they understand each other, they’ve got more respect for each other and that’s typical for the game of Barca.
“The players harmonise well on and off the pitch.”
While acknowledging the strength of their opponents Heynckes was also quick to praise the approach shown by his side this season.
“If I were to sum up the strength of Bayern this season in one word, I would say ‘teamwork’,” he added.
“We play the most modern football in the club’s history. There are so many different things we can do to prepare but spontaneity and intuition are very important in football.”
Bayern will be without striker Mario Mandzukic, who is serving a one-match suspension, but Heynckes remains confident he has the fire-power to replace the Croatian.
“I have to say that after the ban of Mario Mandzukic I’m in the lucky position to have two more top strikers in the squad,” he continued.
“On the one hand I’ve got the most successful foreign striker in the Bundesliga [Claudio Pizarro] and on the other hand there’s Mario Gomez.
“He’s been player of the year, top striker in the Bundesliga and he scored 12 goals in the last Champions League campaign.
“He’s got a strike rate like perhaps Gerd Muller had in the past. It’s a wonderful feeling to have such players.”
But Heynckes would not be drawn on which striker he will opt for at the Allianz Arena.