Klinsmann lured home to coach Bayern

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The Independent Online

Not Liverpool, not Chelsea, not England. Instead Jürgen Klinsmann has returned to work, and to Europe, for somewhere much closer to home. From July he will take over at Bayern Munich on a two-year contract. Klinsmann, whose only other job was national coach of Germany, replaces Ottmar Hitzfeld who had already planned to step down.

"There aren't many chances to coach at a club like Bayern Munich," said the 43-year-old, "they are among the crème de la crème of world football." Klinsmann, who played for Bayern from 1995 to '97, has been living in California since 1998 and coached Germany to third place at the 2006 World Cup.

The decision is a bold one by Bayern who were shocked when they failed to reach this season's Champions League. They promptly ripped up their customary business plan and invested heavily in players such as Franck Ribery and Luca Toni. Bayern subsequently started the season in imperious form but went into the winter break leading the Bundesliga only on goal difference from Werder Bremen.

"He was our dream candidate," Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. Joachim Löw, who is regarded as the tactical brain behind Klinsmann's Messianic brand of national management, and succeeded Klinsmann as Germany coach, said: "For me, it's a surprise."

Klinsmann had problems keeping his goalkeepers happy with the Nationalmannshaft but at least Oliver Kahn and Jens Lehmann never came to blows. Not so the 'keepers of Deportivo La Coruña who return from La Liga's winter break with their third-choice No 1 being lined up to face Villarreal away tomorrow.

Israeli goalkeeper Aouate required six stitches in his face after being punched by his Uruguayan counterpart Gustavo Munua in the dressing-room. The incident came a day after Aouate had complained about being dropped as first-choice goalkeeper last month. "I am very sad because I don't think this was a fair decision. Depor's problems have never been in goal," he had said. Depor are second from bottom.

The bottom club, Levante, tomorrow host Real Madrid who are seven points clear after winning at Nou Camp in the last game before the break. Barcelona are able to field Samuel Eto'o at home to Real Murcia tonight having gained dispensation from Cameroon ahead of the African Cup of Nations. But Yaya Touré is with Ivory Coast and Edmilson, Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi are injured.

Serie A also returns with Internazionale at Siena. The leaders remain injury-hit with Olivier Dacourt and Walter Samuel out for the season and Patrick Vieira and Luis Figo still not fit.

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