Another win in today's trip to Mainz, and FC Bayern Munich will set a new Bundesliga Hinrunde record, posting 45 points at the winter break, which bests last season's record of 44 (albeit in one game less, due to the rescheduled game against Stuttgart, to allow Bayern to play in the FIFA Club World Cup). Pep Guardiola and media director Markus Hörwick sat down for the customary press conference with the sports media representatives.
FC Bayern Press Conference, December 18th, 2014
Note: Due to time constraints, this will be a translation of Abendzeitung's press conference Liveticker, instead of the usual translation of the actual event.
Here are the highlights of yesterday's questions and answers (my interjections in italics):
On how exhausting the World Cup year has been - Again, we have a game after 3 days. But that is our job. We are professionals, we have to play. And win.
On who is available for the Mainz game - Benatia, Xabi Alonso and Lewandowski can't participate. Sebastian Rode is out sick. We don't have a lot of players. We have to manage without 4 players (not counting the other 37 that are already hurt), but that's not an excuse. We will try to win (D'uh!).
On Pep's thoughts on Mainz 05 - Thomas Tuchel did a very good job in the last years, but the same goes for the new coach (Kaser Hjulmand). They play different systems, so we have to adjust. It's the last game, we will try everything. It always comes down to 11 players, all of them are important. The most important thing is the idea, not the system (this is a weekly refrain from Pep). You can play a 4-man backline, or a 3-man backline, you can play with one defensive midfielder, or with two. In zone marking, everyone is important. Of course, we still have Manu (Manuel Neuer), that's a big advantage for us.
On whether this is Xherdan Shaqiri's and Pierre Emile Hojbjerg's last game for Bayern - (Shaqiri is rumored to be sold, Hojbjerg is allegedly going on loan, during the winter break) No, they are Bayern Munich players. If they want to leave, we need to talk. My feeling is that they will stay.
On Pep's wishes for 2015 - (Between each answer, the reporter kept saying "And?") Less injuries. Play better. Health. And getting my kids to school.
On whether Bayern has had a perfect performance yet - I have congratulated the team for some games and some performances, but it's never perfect. Sometimes it's been close. For example in Augsburg. First half, we didn't play well. I congratulated my players on the second half.
On Bayern's strong Hinrunde, considering that everyone expected a bumpy start after the World Cup - I have learned that we can always accomplish everything. There are no excuses. You always have to try to win. I said after Feiburg: Bayern's history is excellent. We have 24 titles (he's talking about German championships, they have a few additional ones, especially the ones that come along with big-ear trophies) We always have to win each game, regardless of conditioning, injured players, we defend Bayern München as well as we can - every day.
On how important the winter break is to get a breather - Of course it's good for our injured players. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Xabi Alonso, David Alaba, also Mehdi Benatia and Robert Lewandowski, they'll be able to join us (should we be worried that he's not mentioning some of the other injured players? Nah, I bet he was just rattling off names off the top of his head. Who can blame him, who can remember 37 different names?)
On whether losing points in Mainz would annoy Pep - At the beginning of the game, the score is 0:0, it's a new game, and we have to go for 90 minutes. Sure, we can lose a game, that can happen to this team. We've seen what happened to Dortmund. That can happen to us too.
On whether Dortmund will still make Champions League for next season -I don't know. I have a lot of respect for them, for the team and for Jürgen Klopp.
On how important a player like Juan Bernat is, who has played 24 games this season - We need the whole roster. He is a Bayern Munich player, he's played the last 14, 15 games. He is fast, plays with an edge, strong on the ball, and has a lot of confidence. The coach is happy with him. If you think that you always need big names like Lahm, Alonso, Schweinsteiger, Alaba, that's a mistake. Bayern has a left back for many years, that is great news for FC Bayern.
On any training programs over winter break - No. I don't think I'll give them a plan. When they have time off, then they're off. In the winter break, everyone can do something on their own.
On any particular game in his time in Munich that really stood out - In the Champions League against Manchester City, and three days later in Leverkusen (so, last season's rendition of Benny Hill against the Baby Blues, and the BL game right after against Bayer). We played outstanding games, and doing it in a span of three days is not a given.
On what Pep will have for Christmas dinner - I miss my mother. My mother's food at Christmas is outstanding. There will be a traditional Catalonian soup (apparently, some sort of noodle soup).
(At the end of the press conference, Pep walked around, and shook every journalist's hand, and wished them Happy Holidays. What a classy dude this guy is!)