In preparation for Sunday's big Bundesliga showdown on matchday 9 against the closest contender, 2nd place Borussia Mönchengladbach, Pep Guardiola and media director Markus Hörwick sat down for the customary press conference with the sports media representatives.
FC Bayern Press Conference, October 24th, 2014
Today featured a lot of reminiscing about the historical game in Rome, which Pep is trying to stomp out, for fear of getting too cocky.
Here are the questions and answers (my interjections in italics):
On Pep's reaction to the 7-1 whupping of Roma - When you win 7-1, you get a lot of praise, when you lose 0-4 in the CL semifinal, you get a lot of criticism. We need to stay calm, we're only in October.
On the big showdown with Gladbach, how much of the euphoria from the Roma game can you carry over - It's a different competition. It was only one step in the quest to finish first in the CL group. I am not surprised by how well Gladbach has done. The only reason they're not in the CL, but playing in the Europa League this season, is because they had a 9-game winless streak last season, where they tied 5 times, and lost 4. They are a CL-caliber team, no losses yet in the BL, they've had the same coach for a long time, Lucien Favre. I think that the next 10 days will be the most important part of the Hinrunde (first half of the season), I hope things go well, against Gladbach, Dortmund, in the DFB Pokal, and against Roma.
On what Pep knows about Lucien Favre - Super coach. Met him for the first time in last season's Telekom Cup (preseason tournament for select BL teams), super coach (I'm getting the feeling that Pep thinks Favre is pretty good). Favre could coach anywhere.
On Favre attending a 2-week training apprenticeship in Barcelona (under Johan Cruyff) during Pep's playing days - Favre's tactics are somewhat different from Cruyff's. Every coach, when starting out, sees many other coaches, many different tactics, and has to decide what's best for himself. He has his own style with Gladbach.
On the advantage of two extra days of rest for Bayern - (Bayern played in Rome on Tuesday, while Gladbach had to play on Thursday in the EL) For regenerative purposes, of course it's better for us, but when teams play against Bayern Munich, the fatigue goes away. If they were playing against a mid-table or bottom of the table team, they might not be as motivated, but I am 100% sure they will give us a good game.
On his impressions of Gladbach's 5-0 win agains Limassol - Same impression as before, whether in the game against Mainz, in this season's Telekom Cup, last season's first game after the winter break, same impression. They know us, we know them. Yesterday, some Gladbach players didn't play (Favre rested Christoph Kramer, Alvaro Dominguez and Andre Hahn, and Raffael and Max Kruse only played a half), they're a top team, a CL-caliber team.
On whether the Roma game was Pep's best game with Bayern - No.
On meeting the Pope, and talking to him - Karl Heinz Rummenigge talked to him, but it was nice for everyone. We just shook hands, it was short, but it was nice.
On whether beating Gladbach would prematurely decide the BL title - (Dortmund is 13 points behind, Leverkusen is 7 points behind, Gladbach would be 7 points behind with a loss) It is hard and also weird to talk about being Meister when we are still in October. We have a long way to go, and it shows a lack of respect towards the other teams, who are all very good, as we've seen in European play (5 wins in CL and EL this week for German teams, 6 wins out of 6 games, 26 to 6 goals), there is still a lot of work to do.
On the difference between Mario Götze this season and last season - It's not easy for a young player, coming from BVB to Bayern. He was hurt, the injury took a while, and he came into a team that had just won everything with Jupp Heynckes. Now he's more comfortable with the team, the city, but I want more. He is very talented, and he is ready to put the work in. He's only 22, so he has a long career in front of him.
On Matthias Sammer's contract extension - That would be great news for us. Since he's been here, Bayern has won everything. He has helped me a lot, we have a good understanding, sometimes we can communicate just with looks. Sometimes when I don't have time to talk to the players, he helps me. I hope they can come to an agreement on an extension.
On the rumor of Pep wanting to get Sevilla's sport director to replace Sammer - The report was totally false. That's an issue with journalists. The rumor was completely, completely, completely false.
On which game was the best, if not the one against Roma - It was a good game, but I don't want to say it's the best game. We played well against Manchester City and Leverkusen last season too, I don't care which one is the best game. We will analyze what we did well against Roma, and we played very, very badly in the first 20 minutes of the second half. But, of course, I'm happy with the result, and compared to the same period last season, we're a little better.
On whether the first half against Roma was 100% Pep football - It's not Pep football, it's Bayern football. I liked it, we only allowed one chance, when Neuer had a great save on Gervinho, and we controlled the rest of the half. But we can get better.
On how to prepare the team for Gladbach after a game like the one against Roma - Gladbach plays a very different tactic than Roma, so we have to prepare differently, in order to allow less counter attacks. We have to adjust to the opponent.
On the history of Bayern-Gladbach - I was still young, I don't remember it. But, there are legendary teams in Germany, and Gladbach is one of them. I am looking forward to it, because Gladbach plays an attractive style, good control, good midfield with Xhaka and Kramer, good forwards in Raffael and Kruse. I remember what happened in my first Bundesliga game against Gladbach, it was my first lesson in German football.
On Arjen Robben's form, even at 30 years old - He is such a professional. Football is his life, he is always here. He knows his body now, he knows when he is fit, and when he isn't, and he's a top player. Mentally strong, aggressive with the ball, he can help out in the back when needed. Bayern Munich acquired an outstanding player when they got him.
On Ribery's fitness - We will see tomorrow, we can't forget that he was injured for a long time, but every day is getting better. Everyone has to compete with each other to get to play. It's good for a big team, because we always have to win. They have to show me they're ready to play.
On Thiago's surgery - (Thiago was successfully operated on in Barcelona on Tuesday) He was operated on by the very best surgeon in the world (I wonder if Dr. Steadman agrees), I am positive he will be back.
On Pep's impressions of Sinan Kurt - He's a very big talent, great left foot, but he is young. He has a lot of room to improve, but practicing with Philip, Xabi, Franck, Arjen, Lewandowski, Thomas, Götze is the best way to get better, but my impression of him is very good.
On having Leopold Zingerle on the bench - It's the same thing as last season, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th keeper are hurt (I think he's exaggerating a little), it's a tough situation. I hope we can go with Manuel Neuer in the next month or 6 weeks. No, I'm not afraid, but it's best not to think about it.
On whether having the game on Sunday allows him to watch the Classico - (Barcelona-Real Madrid this weekend, yo!) We're leaving on Saturday for Gladbach, and the Spanish league isn't available here, but maybe I can see it on the internet. But, of course, it's the most important game in Europe...(slight pause)... after Bayern-Gladbach (it's always nice to finish a press conference on a big laugh).