Meet Christian Streich, German football’s philosophical coach

BERLIN (AFP) – Embattled Bayern Munich face the Bundesliga’s longest-serving current coach today in Christian Streich, the unorthodox trainer who has made buoyant Freiburg a force to be reckoned with, especially in recent weeks.

Freiburg have climbed the German table from 14th to eighth on the back of a club-record five straight league wins.

Last Saturday’s 5-0 thrashing of Cologne was Freiburg’s biggest league victory for more than 20 years.

Not that Streich gets excited about such things.

“It’s not about records – the important thing is that we keep developing,” he insisted.

In contrast, Bayern are reeling from Wednesday’s shock German Cup exit at second division Holstein Kiel and a 3-2 league defeat at Moenchengladbach.

“Bayern led 2-0, then lost 2-3, so you can imagine what’s going on in Munich….” said Streich, who fully expects to feel Bayern’s wrath on Sunday.

In football’s luxury world of five-star hotels and private jets, Streich has both feet planted on the ground.

He has a philosophical approach to the enormous transfer fees paid for football players.

“The money is getting bigger and bigger,” he said after Paris Saint Germain paid Barcelona the world-record fee of EUR222 million (USD268 million) for Brazil star Neymar in 2017.

“Eventually it will devour everything. But most people will only notice when everything has been devoured.”

The 55-year-old encourages his players to talk about politics and current affairs.

His press conferences often address issues far beyond football’s cloistered world.

When chancellor Angela Merkel controversially allowed an influx of refugees to come to Germany during the 2015 crisis, Streich did not hold back in his support of her decision.

“Right now is the time to open up to people, to receive them, to reduce fears,” Streich said.