After Der Klassiker (against Dortmund), here comes a former Klassiker (although it was never called that) against one of FC Bayern Munich's main rivals in the 2000's, as well as prior decades, Werder Bremen. It's a matchup between the winningest club in Bundesliga history (Bayern) against the second winningest club (Werder, but far behind the leaders), although Bremen have fallen on hard times, and currently reside two points out of the relegation zone, and have lost four games in a row, including two to newly promoted teams Darmstadt and Ingolstadt.
Pep Guardiola and media director Markus Hörwick sat down for the customary press conference with the sports media representatives.
FC Bayern Press Conference, October 16, 2015
Here are the highlights of today's questions and answers (my interjections in italics):
On who is fit for this game - The list of not-fit players is longer than the list of fit players. We have 13 players for tomorrow, plus two goalkeepers. Mario [Götze] is not available, Arjen [Robben] and Kingsley Coman aren't ready yet. Xabi Alonso and Javi Martinez couldn't practice well yesterday. The day before yesterday, Douglas Costa came back from South America, yesterday Arturo Vidal came back, so our situation is a little "bloop" (that's as close as I can get it to the sound Pep made).
On whether Juan Bernat is back - Yes. He trained well the last three days, and his problem is gone.
On whether Arjen Robben is still having problems - (Robben has been ruled out for Saturday's game) No, no problems, he just isn't fit yet.
On having to play a team in a slump, after an international break, with that many injuries - I've learned here in Germany, that every away game is a little tough, not just after a national team break. It's more in our heads than in our legs. But, Werder Bremen is, historically, one of the biggest teams in Germany, lots of tradition. When you have a four game losing streak, you will be concentrated, passionate, and you want to react to the situation. It's tough and complicated. But, I'm sorry, I trust in my team, and I hope we keep the high level of play that we had before the break.
On Matthias Sammer's statement that Jerome Boateng is the best inside back in the world - Well, if Matthias said that... He is one of the best centerbacks that I've ever trained, absolutely. He's world class, of course. There are a lot of good centerbacks in the world, but Jerome has absolutely everything. He is happy, he is fast, he's right-footed, his passes always have purpose, he interprets the game well, he can play in a three-man or four-man backline. I think he could also play defensive midfield, he has the quality for that, but above all, he is a great guy, I love practicing with him.
On Holger Badstuber's return to team practice - (Badstuber last saw action five months ago, and participated in most of the team practice on Thursday) We can't forget that he was injured for two years.He wants to go, but it's a risk if he practices too hard. But we're very happy, it's a great moment for him. I hope he can get back as soon as possible.
On Franck Ribery's progress in his rehab from his ankle injury - It's the next step. He's running now, and that's good. It's part of a process, with a lot of small steps forward. His ankle is reacting well, and that is great news for him (and for all of us Ribery fanboys, me included).
On the construction start of the new youth development center - (On Friday morning, FC Bayern broke ground on a brand new youth facility, expected to cost €70m, which should be ready by 2017) This is the best news for this club. It's better to invest this money in a youth center than to buy two of the world's best players. That's the future for Bayern Munich, the scouting department is good, and now they need to look all over Germany (and everywhere else too, Pep), and get players that are ten or eleven years old, and get them here, train them, and get them integrated in the city, the club and the fans, and to find the next Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger or Thomas Müller, that's very important. I came up in a club (FC Barcelona, in case you hadn't heard) where the youth development center and working with the young players was the most important thing. We won two Champions League finals with seven or eight players who were in the youth system at age ten. I am completely convinced that this the best decision by the club, huge compliments to the management of the club for this great idea.
On former Bayern great Stefan Effenberg's managerial debut at SC Paderborn - I think it's very important for German football when former greats like Effenberg, Mehmet Scholl or Oliver Kahn can coach (last I checked, only one of those three are actually coaching), because they have big ideas and lots of experience. I wish the best for Effenberg, and I hope he can have success there, and have a long career. I started in the fourth division, he's starting in the second division, and I'm sure, if he continues well, he can quickly be up in the Bundesliga (well, it might take a little while, he's taking over a Paderborn team that is currently in the relegation zone of the second BL).
On breaking the start record to a Bundesliga season, and how Bayern is able to keep doing this - (This season's team has equaled the record start of eight wins, shared with the 2012/13 team, and can break the record with a win against Bremen) That's the most important to me, that we have had a good start in the last three seasons. Nine wins in a row is ok, but I am focusing more on our playing style, and our level of play for the future. I am a little concerned, because we can't continue to play at our level, and fight for titles, with only 13 players. We've done well so far, because we had a lot of fit players, and they were fighting for starting spots amongst themselves. Every player knows that if he doesn't play well, he may not play next game. To hold this level of play for four years, after the triple win with Jupp Heynckes, and winning the Bundesliga early the last two seasons, you need the entire roster. For one game, you can live with 13 players, but three days later, you play again, and you need everyone. I hope that in March and April we have Badstuber, [Medhi] Benatia, Franck, Arjen, and all the other players, fighting for spots, and fighting against the opponents.
On whether Bayern are less dependant on Robben and Ribery now - We need them both. Coman and Costa still have to eat a lot of soup to get to the level of what Arjen and Franck have done at this club (ok, I get what he means, but this must be a Spanish or Catalan saying). We need them both.
Disclaimer - Due to the nature of having a coach whose native language is not German, the translation of the quotes is not exactly word for word, but includes some interpretation on the part of the author of this article, in order to more accurately portray what the coach is intending to say. There is some necessary guesswork involved.