Set a new record for most consecutive wins to start a season? Check. Win the 1000th game in the club's Bundesliga history? Check. Knock out last year's DFB Pokal winners in the second round? Check again. Unfortunately, a packed schedule doesn't give Bayern any time to rest after those accomplishments, as they have to travel to the nation's financial capital to face off against Eintracht Frankfurt, a team that is floating around at midtable (currently 12th place), but sports the fourth best offense in Germany, at 16 goals scored.
Pep Guardiola and media director Markus Hörwick sat down for the customary press conference with the sports media representatives.
FC Bayern Press Conference, October 29th, 2015
Here are the highlights of today's questions and answers (my interjections in italics):
On the excellent showing in the first half against Wolfsburg, and whether it can be improved upon - I'm satisfied. Perfection doesn't exist. We did a good job, we won against a very, very big opponent, but that's it. Sunday is the draw (for the round of 16 DFB Pokal matches). That's one of the toughest things for coaches, for the Wolfsburg game, we had ten cameras and 20 journalists, today we have four cameras and only a few journalists, because people think some games are more important than others, but for us coaches, the next game is the most important.
On how satisfying it is to see the team approaching perfection after two and a half years of work - When we analyze everything afterwards, everything worked great, but I don't know if it will work again tomorrow. For us coaches, it's the toughest thing to convince my players that we're not German champions, or DFB Pokal winners, or Champions League winners, because every day they're reading that everything is easy, we are so much better, we're German champs, we're Cup winners, we're good-lucking, we're great. We're still in October. We've done well, but that doesn't mean that it will continue in the last months of the season. That's why we regenerate, practice today, and focus on Frankfurt, who have only lost one of their last 15 games at home. That shows how stable and strong they are, especially at home.
On how close the players are on this team - (the reporter asking the question says that he's been covering Bayern for a very long time, and he's never seen the team so cohesive and genuinely excited, even the bench players, about goals and results) I am completely convinced, completely, that if the coaches, the players, and the club can keep this level of harmony until the last day of the season, we will be fighting for all of the titles until the very end. I am sure of that. I don't know what will happen tomorrow, but if this continues, we will be a very good team, and our fans will be very proud of us. Whether we win or not in the end, the process through to the last days will be very nice, and we will be happy with our jobs, and our work, and so will our fans. One of my best moments with Bayern Munich was when we got eliminated here at home against Barcelona (Champions League semifinals, last season). We weren't able to reach the finals in Berlin, but the players got twenty minutes of applause, because our fans aren't stupid, they saw that the players did everything they could, for the jersey, for the team, with the thousands of millions of problems we had last season, with very few available players. That, for me, is the most important. Our fans are proud of what they see, that's what I want from my team. Fighting for the ball from the first minute, like a small team, hungry for the ball. When we have the ball, of course, with the quality of players that the club has bought, that makes the difference. I can't show Douglas Costa, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, or Kingsley Coman on how to dribble past two players. I don't have the talent, or the influence on that. Zero. That's just talent. But, I can try to get them the ball in situations where they can take on players one-on-one, I can arrange that. But for Robert Lewandowski scoring five goals in 9 minutes, what influence do I have on that? Zero.
On what the team is doing right now, that makes it better than last season - A few months ago, I read a quote by one of the best basketball coaches in the world, Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs, who said that a successful team needs time and patience. People want immediate success, and us coaches, we need time. Of course, the third year, it's a process, a thousand million team meetings, a thousand million practice sessions, a thousand million games, and of course it will look better in year three than it did in year one. It's a process, where you make a mistake, and you correct it, then another one, and correct, correct, correct, that's the process.
On whether there is currently any team in the world that plays better or more attractive football than Bayern - (I'll answer that: No!) That's not really a topic for me, looking at whether we're better than other teams. What's important is playing well for yourself, and when you're playing the important games in March and April, especially in the Champions League, that will be decided in the 90 minutes.
On Matthias Sammer's complaint about the schedule - (The sport director publicly complained about having to play on a Friday, instead of the usual Saturday, after having to play midweek against Wolfsburg, and then having another midweek game against Arsenal) The schedule is the schedule, sometimes we play Friday, sometimes Saturday. Sure, we would have had an extra day, but, the schedule is the schedule. Big teams can't complain. Big teams, with big players need difficult situations. We played Wolfsburg, away from home, not a semifinal or final, but the second round, ok. We need that, the great players need that new challenge.
On whether Pep made the decision to travel on game day - (For the first time in Bayern history, apparently, the team is traveling the day of the game, instead of the customary day before) Yes. If we were playing at 3:30 pm (the usual Bundesliga start time), it wouldn't be possible, but when we play at 8:30 pm (which is the case tomorrow) then we have time to fly the same day. After spending many days in London, in Bremen and in Wolfsburg, I wanted the players to be able to stay home with their families tonight. Tomorrow, we will have time after lunch to nap for a few hours. That's what I decided.
On Frankfurt's surprising loss in the DFB Pokal and the effect on the next game - (Frankfurt was knocked out in a 0-1 game to third division Erzgebirge Aue this week) Eight Bundesliga teams were eliminated this round, which means that the Pokal is a very nice competition. It's very hard to knock out a big team in Spain (where they play a home and away series in each round) that's why the Pokal is great here in Germany. But I expect the best possible Frankfurt team. I'm not expecting a sad team, they are playing against Bayern Munich, they won the last game in Hannover, and only lost one of their last 15 home games, that means they're strong.
On the injury situation at Bayern - I don't know yet. It's only been two days, we have the last check by the physios and doctors today, after that they will inform me. Ok? (knocks twice on the table, and makes an exit, stage left)
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.