Licking their wounds after getting shown up by Borussia Mönchengladbach, then beating Dinamo Zagreb midweek to set a new club record for group stage performance (15 points, with a 19:3 goal differential), Bayern return home with a noticeable limp. The winter break can't come soon enough, as more players are out, and Pep is dealing with a skeleton crew (although plenty of teams would kill to have these kinds of skeletons). Next up is FC Ingolstadt, the surprising, plucky newcomer who doesn't give up a lot of goals.
Pep Guardiola and media director Markus Hörwick sat down for the customary press conference with the sports media representatives.
FC Bayern Press Conference, December 11th, 2015
Here are the highlights of today's questions and answers (my interjections in italics):
On what Pep expects in tomorrow's game - After a Champions League game, you always have the problem of how the team will react. Three days after an away game in CL, against a team that has allowed very few goals (15 on the season, second best behind Bayern). They allowed four against Hannover, but didn't allow much before then, but they don't score a lot either. They have a good mindset, play good Angriffspressing, have good solidarity. Of course, it depends on us, our intensity, our concentration, but we're ready.
On the news that Franck Ribery and Medhi Benatia will miss the rest of the games before the winter break due to injuries - (It was announced today that both players would be shut down until after the winter break, due to muscular issues) We've lost two important players until after the break. We have 13 players. It's temporary, not like last season, but we can't fight now. We can win one or two games, but we need more players, and we don't have them.
On the possibility of Arjen Robben returning before the break - He's injured, and not available for Ingolstadt. I don't know about playing against Darmstadt (DFB Pokal) and Hannover (last Bundesliga game of the year). He hasn't practiced much with the team in the Hinrunde, and he hasn't been able to practice in the last 10 to 15 days. He needs a little time.
On any other players missing due to injury - That's enough, isn't it?
On Bayern's issues when they fall behind - We have to improve that situation. We can allow a goal. We're a good team, stable in our defensive work, but sometimes the opponent is good, and can score a goal. But we need to improve that, and the players know that.
On how to improve that, are they trying too hard to come back - Yes. When we've allowed a goal, we need to score one. I prefer to play forward, but without losing our stability. I want my team to dominate, to possess the ball. The reason we've allowed very few goals and scoring chances in three years [at Bayern] and six or seven years as coaches, is because we control the ball. But we do it 40 meters further up. People think that if you have ten men in the box, you are playing well defensively. I don't agree. We normally defend with the ball, and attack with the ball. But, of course, teams have quality, not only in the Champions League, but in Germany as well, and we have to accept that we can't dominate for 90 minutes. We have to accept that the opponent has quality, good players, and gets one, two, three, four, or more scoring chances. OK, that's not a problem. In this situation you have to stay calm, and deal with it.
On allowing multiple goals in a short span, like against Gladbach, or Real Madrid and Barcelona in recent seasons in CL - OK, once a year, that's ok, isn't it? Or Gladbach can't score a goal, what do you think?(Pep is addressing the Sport1 reporter, Christian Ortlepp, and is getting a little irritated). Did you see the first half in Gladbach, how many scoring chances we had? That's what we want, but we also want to score when we allow a goal.
On dealing with a team like Ingolstadt, who doesn't play a lot of offense, but plays well defensively - Up until now, they've done an insanely good job. When you analyze a team that hasn't allowed a lot of goals, the first thought is that they are standing deep in their own half. That's not the case with Ingolstadt. For example, against Gladbach and Dortmund, they pressured up front. That's how they haven't allowed a lot of goals, very aggressive and intense, the entire team comes back on defense. We can't forget that they were in the second division last season, and have done a very good job so far.
On whether it's a surprise that a team with such a small budget is that good - Normally, teams that were promoted are very dangerous in the first seven, eight or nine games. The mood is good, they're new to the Bundesliga, they run a lot, and in the second half of the Hinrunde, they come back down. But we only have two games left in the Hinrunde, and they're still in a comfortable spot in the table (currently 11th). That means, they've done well.
On whether Pep knows Ralph Hasenhüttl, Ingolstadt's coach - No, I don't know him. I've seen him on TV, but tomorrow will be the first time we meet. I know he was here (Hasenhüttl used to play for the Bayern reserves), worked with Hermann [Gerland], but tomorrow will be the first time. Shake hands, and have a good game.
On whether Ribery came back too early - I don't know. We do everything to take care of the players, the whole staff does everything. That's always the question: why are Philipp Lahm, Rafinha, Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller always healthy, playing every three days, with the same training as the guys who get hurt, even though we are watching them more closely? It's a mystery, I don't know.
On how happy Pep is with Xabi Alonso, and whether he would recommend staying in Munich - I am very happy with his personality, his level of play, not only now, but since he's been here. Talking about his future, I'm not the right person to ask.
On whether Granit Xhaka would be a good player for Bayern - (Matthias Sammer was quoted as saying that Xhaka is an interesting player, and is someone that Bayern has looked at) I've said this a thousand times, I'm not the right person to discuss buying and selling players.
On whether Pep is involved in the planning for the future - (This looked like an attempt to get Pep to give away clues about his future) It's December, usually that's a little too early for planning next season. But the plans are made by the club, I've said it many times. What happens in the future, even in December with player loans (that sounded like a hint that someone is probably leaving on loan, didn't it?), is up to the club. You need to talk to Matthias, or maybe Michael Reschke.
On whether defense is becoming a problem area, with Benatia's latest injury - Of course, it's not good, but at the moment we have Javi Martinez, Holger Badstuber, Benatia...and Jerome Boateng. A month ago, we only had Jerome. Of course, we have our special players like David Alaba, who can play anywhere. But (he knocks on the podium) now, we only have one [injured player]. I hope that as many as possible can come back for the Rückrunde, and stay for as long as possible.
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.