Josep Guardiola faced a near-impossible task of improving all-conquering FC Bayern München when he succeeded Jupp Heynckes last summer.
The Bavarians have since retained the Bundesliga title in record time, however, and remain on course to repeat last season's treble-winning feat. On an individual note, David Alaba and Toni Kroos have flourished under the new regime. "I have gained even more confidence on the ball. I do whatever the coach demands of me. I am involved in more attacking situations down the wing and through the middle," versatile Austria full-back Alaba explained.
"He has different ideas from other coaches," added Germany midfielder Kroos. "We have flexible players and I enjoy that because it fits in with my own way of playing. When we lose the ball we're told to retrieve it in the following three to five seconds. That's the case for every player – you have to run the extra yards."
After accounting for Manchester United FC in the last eight, Bayern face Real Madrid CF in a rerun of the 2012 UEFA Champions League semi-final, sparking fond memories for Alaba who held his nerve in the Santiago Bernabéu shoot-out. "The walk from the halfway line is pretty long, but as soon as you put the ball down, you're so focused. You forget what is going on around you," he said.
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