At first glance Klopp and Heynckes, the coaches of the two German Champions League finalists, seem to have little in common. But the two coaches are more similiar than it seems.
Relaxed, chummy, quick-witted – that is how Jürgen Klopp likes to come across. There is hardly a press conference ahead of Saturday's Champions League final at Wembley where Klopp doesn't crack a few jokes. He has a real talent in marketing – himself and his Borussia Dortmund team – to the media and fans at home. So he is everybody's darling.
Jupp Heynckes, at the helm of Bayern Munich, is completely different. He is not into jokes. He stays calm and serious when he patiently answers journalists' questions – even the last press conference ahead of the final was an unemotional affair. He may not be loved by fans and journalists like Klopp, but he definitely is well-respected. His authority and expertise are undeniable.
Different personalities – similar standing
The two coaches' personalities may be as different as can be – but their work ethics are not that dissimilar. Both of them have a deep understanding of the game and strategy.
Klopp's laid-back attitude has often deceived critics into doubting his competence. But the past three years of his success story with Dortmund have proven that he is one of the best coaches in the Bundesliga. Back in 2008 he said he believed in football as an emotional experience with teams showing passion and determination and a fighting spirit on the pitch that drives them to out-run their opponents while maintaining tactical discipline. This philosophy put into practice has led Dortmund to win two Bundesliga championships in a row – including a Cup-League double last year – and to unexpectedly march through to the Champions League final this year.
But Jupp Heynckes also had to silence his critics. They hold his age against him, accusing the 68-year-old of lacking modern vision, of being too set in his ways. But his team's success this season alone has proved him right: Bayern's record breaking season has ensured Heynckes his outstanding place in the football history books – and has again drawn attention of big international clubs like Real Madrid on the lookout for a coach that can restore them to success.
Shooting for the stars
Both coaches are going down to the wire in preparing their teams, leaving no stone unturned in their detailed analysis of their opponents. "There are a lot of small things we have to be aware of. Things I want to alert the players to," said Heynckes. "It is not enough that I know exactly who plays where for Dortmund."
Klopp and his team adopt the same meticulous approach, replaying key moments of the match even during half-time breaks to analyze the game and readjust tactics. "The game is fast, the opponent is hard – that makes it easy to overlook details. We want to help the players improve their performance," was Klopp's explanation of the benefits of video analysis.
Jürgen Klopp has been more successful as a coach than as a player - he played for Mainz in the 1990s
"The player whisperer"
Both coaches look at players' psyches as well as their physical dispositions. "A player's personality is a very important consideration in selecting him for our team," said Klopp. And in the course of the past few years this has been a decisive factor in shaping the current young and dynamic Dortmund squad.
Heynckes, on the other hand, faced the challenge of having to shape a cohesive team with already established international star players, while making sure that the expensive talent on the bench stayed motivated. Harmony is a key word for the soft-spoken Heynckes, who shies away from open confrontation. Clarence Seedorf, who played for Real Madrid when Heynckes was their coach in 1998, said "Heynckes was too nice as a coach. That made him and Real a bad fit."
But at Bayern, Heynckes has found the right recipe for success, and his special rapport with individual players has led some of the Bayern stars – most notably Franck Ribery – to flourish this season like never before.
Discipline is the key to success
"Discipline is one of the most important things in life, in every successful company as in football," said Heynckes several years ago. And he lives by this belief. When he was sacked as coach of the Bundesliga side Borussia Moenchengladbach in 2007, he declined severance pay and returned his company car on the last day: clean and with the tank full of gas.
But Klopp is not that far off: He may seem to be very chummy with his players, but he too is uncompromising in his expectations of discipline, commitment and unlimited passion. He just has a special talent to put his across in a more playful manner and find just the right way to motivate his young team.
One thing is clear: The historic all-German final in London will be the crowning moment for both coaches. For the 68-year-old Heynckes it may be the final glorious moment of a successful career. For the 45-year-old Klopp it would be the biggest triumph so far – but for someone who has confessed to be driven by greed, it would definitely not mark the end.