Finally! The Bundesliga finally starts back up, after what seemed like a three-month winter break (it was "only" 42 days), and it starts with a bang. First place FC Bayern Munich travel to second place VfL Wolfsburg, with the Rekordmeister looking to expand their lead to 14 points, while the Wolves will try to keep the runaway league leaders in sight. For this game, Pep Guardiola gets a rare break, with Sportdirector Matthias Sammer taking over the pre-game press conference with the sports media representatives.
FC Bayern Press Conference, January 29, 2015
Matthias Sammer loves to talk, and he has quite the vocabulary. His answers to reporters' questions sometimes take quite a detour, where he starts addressing the actual query, then takes a couple of left turns to add some other thoughts he had, and sometimes, but not always, comes back to the subject at hand. Wading through that was a beatdown this week, so I had to cut some of his responses down, in the interest of making sense. It's almost easier interpreting what Pep is trying to say when speaking in his 6th language.
Here are the questions and answers (my interjections in italics):
On whether they can already be congratulated on winning the league - Maybe amongst yourselves. It's very satisfying to see the evolution of this team, how the players, the coaches and the officials handle this situation. They are the most modest and humble people in this phase. It doesn't mean you guys can't ask these questions, but we have to be prepared for a setback on a bad day. What we want to avoid is for the players to forget how it feels to lose, and to present themselves in an arrogant or conceited fashion. This team hasn't done that over a very long time, and won't do it now either.
On Watzke's statement that teams give up against Bayern, even before the game starts, and now save their best games for Dortmund - (Watzke is a whiny little biyatch) I would be happy if Wolfsburg gifts us the points, but remember the game in Mainz, and a lot of other games in the Hinrunde. We are a good team, so is Dortmund, although they are going through a difficult phase, so it's normal that teams are motivated, we experience that all the time. We've been able to handle it quite well, both in terms of results and how we carry ourselves. We're aware that we could have problems in the future. We don't spend time day-in, day-out on how great we are, we work day-in, day-out on what we need to do so that we don't lose to a team. Obviously, that will happen sometime, but it shouldn't happen due to a poor state of mind. I have to tell you, all the games I've experienced, nobody gifted us any points in the Hinrunde, we did a good job, and we want to continue doing a good job.
On why Sammer is sitting in for Pep - He's doing great. In the Hinrunde, I took care of this a few times, and I might do it again once in a while. But Pep is psyched for this game, his skull is smoking, the tactics are in his head.
On how long Pep is going to extend his contract - You asked me earlier about Uli (Hoeness), I'll answer that too: they're both doing great, everything is good, but now we're playing football, we're going to concentrate on the sport side of things, how we can win, so we focus on the team. We've talked about this issue (the contract situation), and now we're done. You won't hear anything else from us about it.
On the medical situation, with Ribery, Rafinha, Schweinsteiger and Boateng having been seen at the doctor's office - (Bastian Schweinsteiger and Jerome Boateng were spotted at the team doctor's office, but there has been no explanation so far) The topic of our roster being too big is nonsense. We sold Xherdan [Shaqiri] and loaned Pierre [Emile Højbjerg], so, with the youngsters Gianluca Gaudino, Sinan Kurt and Mitchell Weiser, not counting the goalies, we have 17 field players, that's enough, both in quantity and quality, but please stop with the fairy tale that our roster is too big. My first impression with Ribery and Rafinha was that it was much worse. Franck has a little muscle issue, which will keep him out for a week or so, which would have been the same timeframe with a bad cold. Rafinha's situation is similar, but he might take a day or two more than Ribery. We got a scare, but thank God, not a big one.
On how they prepared the team for Wolfsburg - I can't tell you all the secrets, but we've prepared them well. Dieter Hecking and Klaus Allofs have done a very good job, the team has quality, continuity and structure. Right now, they're trying to get André Schürrle, they're constantly trying to improve the team. Their style of play, their transfers, and don't forget about [Robin] Knoche and [Maximilian] Arnold from their own youth system, they have a really good mix. We're expecting a top opponent, who we want to beat, who have had a fantastic development.
On what Sammer thinks about having a minute of clapping instead of a moment of silence for Junior Malanda - (Klaus Allofs announced that they will continue what happened at the wake in Belgium) Out of respect, we will go along with whatever Wolfsburg wants to do.
On the alleged argument at training this week between Sammer and Pep Guardiola - I'm sorry, but there wasn't one. In the end, the report was either a duck (in German, when a story is called a duck, or Ente, it means it was completely false) or a leak. It wasn't a leak, so that makes it a duck.
On Thomas Müller's apology for playing well and doing your job - (In an earlier press conference this week with Thomas Müller, the player had jokingly apologized to all the reporters for Bayern doing so well and making the Bundesliga boring) You have to differentiate, there is a public discussion, and an internal path, and you have to keep them separated, that's how we see it. The only thing that gets a little annoying are the questions you guys ask, but that's alright (Sammer grins and has a little laugh). There will be discussions about bets, and how fast we win, but that should not affect the team. If it ends up affecting the team, that would be unfortunate, because it would mean we are on the wrong path.