Welcome to a new feature here at Bavarian Football Works, which combines my German language skills with having nothing better to do with my time than following team press conferences. I will try to pick out the newsworthy snippets from what is usually a bunch of meaningless questions or answers, and very often both.
Time permitting, I will try to find something from the opponent's press conference as well, as I did this week.
FC Bayern Press Conference, September 19th, 2014
Unlike Jupp Heynckes, who had a reputation for always being extremely punctual in arriving at his press conferences, Pep Guardiola usually shows up late. Today, he shocked the reporters by arriving a few minutes early, which led Markus Hörwick to joke with the reporters, "Immediately make a note, we are early!"
Other than the obligatory praise of the opponent (aggressive team, it's always hard to play in Hamburg, bla, bla, bla), even in the face of abysmal performances by the dinosaur of the Bundesliga, here are some of the more interesting statements:
On how hard it is to prepare for a team that has a brand new coach - Pep stated the obvious, saying that you have to concentrate on your own team, and ensure that you are doing what you need to. However, later in the press conference, he admitted that they had watched two HSV II games, where Josef Zinnbauer was coaching before being called up to replace Mirko Slomka.
On questions about player personnel and injuries - As usual, Pep said he needs to talk to his players, especially the ones that played on Wednesday in the CL match against Manchester City, before making a decision. Having less than three days to recover can be problematic. Sounds like there will be some rotation, with guys like Shaqiri maybe getting playing time.
On Mehdi Benatia - He was happy with his performance, but pointed out that the Moroccan had not played in two and a half months, and had only had limited practice with the team. The coach thinks that Benatia is not quite ready yet to play every three of four days, which seems to indicate that Dante will probably get the start on Saturday.
On changes to the tactical system (3-man vs 4-man backline) - The tactical system doesn't matter, as long as the team keeps it's playing style (meaning, dominating possession, creating chances, pressing, etc). Pep says he adjusts the system to facilitate the style.
On Arjen Robben - The Dutchman had a good practice (the reporter mentioned that the player was motivated, and firing the ball from all angles), but Pep is leaving the decision on how much the player can handle with Arjen, since the Holland international knows his body best. Robben went on record recently, saying that he doesn't think he can last 90 minutes quite yet, and that he needs to be smart about it.
On how much influence a football coach has from the sideline - Pep was more agitated than usual during Wednesday's game, which prompted the question. He conceded that football coaches don't have very much influence during the game, and most of their work is done in game prep and at halftime, contrasting it with his Bayern basketball colleague, Svetislav Pešić, who gets the benefit of constant substitutions and timeouts.
On whether Pep would like having timeouts in football - If his team is playing badly, yes, if they're playing well, no, he said with a smile.
On his plans for Gianluca Gaudino - Pep feels that the youngster is well served practicing with the senior team, gaining experience going up against and learning from guys like Lahm, Alonso, Boateng, Mueller, Lewandowski. Right now, the 17-year old will stay with the pros, but he could end up playing with the U19 team (curiously, Pep mentioned the U19 twice, but didn't say anything about playing for the reserves).
On Robert Lewandowski's time so far at Bayern - Not surprisingly, Pep said he's very happy with the Polish striker, even if he's only scored one goal. Lewa is consistently getting two to three good chances, is playing smart, and working hard. Pep admitted that the former Dortmund player had it easier at his old club, because there was more space on a team that plays the counter attack, and space is a lot tighter when playing at Bayern.
On the other side, as HSV prepares for Hurricane FC Bayern (while possibly planning another BBQ), here are just a couple of snippets from the new Hamburg coach's press conference:
- Joe Zinnbauer was at work shortly before 7 am on his first day as head coach, only to find that the facility was locked, and he didn't have a key.
- He says that HSV has no pressure, because everyone expects them to lose.
- His football philosophy is dominance, ball possession and exciting football (that might well work in the Regionalliga Nord, but good luck with that against Bayern!).
- He stated that he will not hesitate to promote players from the U23 team, if the senior team is not doing well, and he already followed through with that promise, by bringing up three youth players.
Zinnbauer used to play professionally with Jürgen Klopp at Mainz, and he appears to still be friends with the Dortmund coach. He says that Klopp once told him "Us two blind guys can't play football, but maybe we can make it as coaches." Well, one of them clearly made it, let's see how it works out for the other.