No time to rest, even after the historic 1000th Bundesliga win in club history, as FC Bayern Munich travel to Wolfsburg for their third meeting of this season. After the loss in the German Supercup on penalty kicks in early August, and the whooping of the Wolves at the hands of Robert Lewandowski in September, Bayern once again head to Volkswagen Arena on Tuesday, this time for a second round matchup (round of 32, if you must know) against last year's cup winners.
Pep Guardiola and media director Markus Hörwick sat down for the customary press conference with the sports media representatives.
FC Bayern Press Conference, October 26th, 2015
Here are the highlights of today's questions and answers (my interjections in italics):
On Pep's approach to handling a more serious opponent in Wolfsburg - I don't know, I haven't talked to my players yet. It's a final, there's only two choices, move on or you're out. Klaus Allofs said that they're the favorites, they're the DFB Pokal holders, and we're flying there to try to play our game and to advance in the Pokal.
On the effect of Robert Lewandowski's five-goal gala in the last meeting - That's in the past. The next day after the game, it's over. The past is the past, it's part of history, memories of how good it was at the moment. But it's a new game, it's a "final". New ideas, same opponent, you need to analyze the players, how Wolfsburg have done with Max Kruse, Julian Draxler. The past counts for nothing.
On Arjen Robben's ability to play every three days, after his comeback from injury on Saturday - (Robben played about 60 minutes against Köln, scoring the game winner in the first half) With Arjen, it all depends on his mental state, and if his body language is good. When that happens, he can play every three days. Arjen knows his body better than the best doctor in the world, or the best physiotherapist or massager, or whoever, he knows himself the better than any coach. If he's fit, he's fit.
On whether Philipp Lahm's conversation with Pep had any influence on his decision to sign an extension - (According to Lahm, the captain had a private conversation with the coach, in which he relayed the team's desire to continue to work with the Spaniard) I love my players, and they love me, and that's the best thing for Bayern Munich. I like to answer the questions that you journalists want to know, but this week is Wolfsburg, this [contract] issue is not more important. The club is stable, the club is amazing, the players are here, the coaches are here, that's the important thing. I'm sorry, but before our final - and tomorrow is a final - it's not like Champions League, where we have another three games to play, or the Bundesliga, where nothing is decided in November, against amazing teams like Dortmund. Tomorrow is a final, move on or out, against the Pokal title holders, one of the best teams in Germany, not just this year, but the last years, improving every year, and it's a Champions League team. I don't want to be awkward with the journalists, but this is not a topic now. No more about this topic, please.
On whether Pep wants his players to continue loving him - (This question is a poor attempt at continuing the contract extension questioning, and you can see Pep is slowly starting to get irritated) I love working with these players. I was very happy with my former players in Barcelona, and my former, former players in the Barcelona reserves. I like my job, I am here to help and to support, to know the opponents so well that there are no doubts in the minds of my players, that is my job. The other stuff is not important.
On whether Lahm's heartfelt request touches him as a person, not as a coach - I talk to Philipp every other day about a million different things. Of course, it makes me happy. Philipp was very important to me when I first got here, he helped me a lot. It wasn't easy for me, with the language barrier, after winning the triple, getting to know the opponents, Säbener Strasse, the employees, he was the most important player on the roster, he helped me a lot. That's why Philipp is, and always will be, a very special person to me, not just as a football player - he is on a different level as a player - but as a person. He loves Bayern Munich, and he would do anything for Bayern Munich. I am happy about his opinion, but if he thought differently, it would be the same to me.
On whether a decision has been made - Oh, please! (Guardiola slumps his shoulders and bows his head theatrically, and Markus Hörwick jumps in, telling the reporters "Please cut that stuff out") [Holding his head, muttering to himself, Pep says] I said it in the beginning, and now for the fourth time. [Back in a normal voice] I'm happy, thank you, Philipp, thank you to the players. We're here to win tomorrow, not to discuss my extension. We're in October, we have seven more months of work. Whether I sign an extension or I don't, we still need to win games, the fans don't care, they want us to play well, to win games, to beat Wolfsburg, and try to get to the Pokal final. Two years ago, there was an incredible coach in Jupp Heynckes, after me there will be a new coach. This is not important in football, what's important is getting ready for Wolfsburg. We could talk about this decision for an hour (just an hour? I think you underestimate the media, Pep), but that is not the topic right now.
On playing with five forwards again, or playing more defensively against Wolfsburg - More defensive. I play more defensively when the opponent is better (Peter Stöger, Köln's trainer is probably saying "Ouch, very ouch!"), with a better opponent, we have to defend. For me, ball possession is everything. When we have the ball, the opponent can't get scoring chances. Of course, sometimes we lose the ball, we have to control the counter attacks, and if the opponent is good, we have to defend. Against Köln, we played with five forwards, because I thought they would be very defensive (check), which is why I needed less control, and more one-on-one skill and a nose for the goal. Of course, Arjen, Lewy, Thomas Müller, and Arturo Vidal as well, they needed that, and that was what my decision was based on. Against Arsenal, I wanted more control, I didn't want a back-and-forth type game, I wanted more control, and attacking at the right moments. It all depends on the opponent and the situation.
On whether it is too early to play an all-or-nothing game against a good team in October - (Pep shrugs his shoulders, like "What are you gonna do?") Nowadays, the Champions League group stage is always tough, it's not a do-or-die situation, I know. It's only October/November, not March/April, but if you sleep through October/November, you will be out in the Bundesliga, out in the Pokal, and out in the Champions League. Sure, we were expecting a different team in the second round, but that was the draw. Welcome!
On when Holger Badstuber will be back on a game roster - (Badstuber has been training with the team recently, and sport director Matthias Sammer recently said that the long-time injured center back is close to coming back) When he comes to me and says "Pep, I'm ready." He needs a little more time, he was injured for two years. He is fit, but he needs confidence, he needs some more practice. Once he's ready, then I can start thinking about giving him some playing time.
On the possibility of losing tomorrow, and missing out on a possible triple - If we lose and lose the chance at a triple, I'm sorry. Next season, Bayern Munich will try again to win the triple (this statement has caused all sorts of speculation in the media, because Pep said "Bayern Munich", and not "we", implying that he won't be a part of it next season. How smart it is to micro-analyze the choice of words in a person's non-native language to infer what he really means is probably questionable, at best, but, that's the sports media being the sports media). It's only happened once in the history of the club, under Jupp Heynckes, which means, it's not easy. I'm not here to say "win the triple", I've never thought, even in Barcelona, we have to win the triple. I'm thinking, first Köln, Wolfsburg now, and then Eintracht Frankfurt (next Friday's Bundesliga game), and we will see where we stand in February, March, April. Bayern won the triple three years ago, and the last two years we were right there. We were in the semifinals in CL every time, and won the Bundesliga, so we were right there. That's what I want. Afterwards, we'll see, because the opponents in Germany and in Europe are very good, believe me.
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.