Despite keeping a clean sheet (thanks Manuel Neuer), and winning 2-0 against Ingolstadt, Bayern struggled for large parts of the game, especially in the first half, against the newly promoted Bavarian neighbors. Will there be a repeat against the other promoted Bundesliga team, Darmstadt 98? The injury situation remains the same, nobody is returning to the squad, but no new injuries will keep players out (the all-clear was given by Holger Badstuber today).
Of course, many of the questions today were about the Champions League draw, which took place in Switzerland earlier today, and resulted in Juventus getting paired up against FC Bayern.
Pep Guardiola and media director Markus Hörwick sat down for the customary press conference with the sports media representatives.
FC Bayern Press Conference, December 14th, 2015
Here are the highlights of today's questions and answers (my interjections in italics), which was separated into questions about the Champions League, and then the round of 16 in the DFB Pokal:
On Pep's reaction to drawing Juventus Turin in the Champions League round of 16 - We're going to play against last season's finalist, one of the best teams in Europe. Their jersey, like other big clubs in Europe, like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and very few others, their jerseys say, we must win, we must win, we must win (is this a Spanish or Catalan saying, that jerseys can talk?) In the last four or five years, with [Antonio] Conte and with [Massimilliano] Allegri, they have dominated Italy. It will be an insane two games, and the draw is the draw. My wish is to see how we do in the round of 16, at the right moment, at the end of February and the beginning of March (games are scheduled for February 23rd, in Turin, and March 16th, in Munich), how our players will feel, how our playing style and rhythm will be. Right now, of course, I'm thinking about our "final" tomorrow against Darmstadt. Of course, huge respect, not only for Juventus, but for all the competition. I'm happy to return to Italy (Pep played in Brescia and Rome at the end of his European career), to play against one of the best teams in Europe. Last season they won their league, their cup, and were finalists in the Champions League, that means that they're a good team.
On whether Bayern did themselves a favor, by getting Arturo Vidal and Kingsley Coman from Juventus - (Vidal was an integral part of last season's run to the final, while Coman got very limited playing time) With big clubs, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said one or two weeks ago, players leave, players come. They signed Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala, Alex Sandro from Porto. The most important thing is the jersey of Bayern Munich, the jersey of Juventus Turin, regardless of coaches and players, they're always there, and fighting for all the titles.
On the importance of being challenged early in the knockout stages - In my first season here, we played against Arsenal in the round of 16 (shrugs his shoulders). Champions League, Manchester United is out, so the group phase is also important. Sometimes, there's a problem for the big clubs, people think it's easy to reach the round of 16 or the quarterfinals, sometimes the big clubs are out after the group stage. Of course, I know where we stand, our level of the last years, but now it's step by step, now we play Darmstadt, and in February we'll think about Juventus, and we will be in a position to reach the quarterfinals. Every team has their own unique situation, that includes all the competitors in the round of 16. We'll see what our level will be specifically in February.
On how strong the current Juventus team is - They didn't start well in the Calcio (Italy's domestic league), they had some problems in the first games, but that's normal if you changed two, three or four players, and a new coach, although that's not a topic, since it's my colleague Allegri's second year. Now they're only six points behind (currently in fourth place in Serie A, behind leaders Inter Milan, and Fiorentina and Napoli). Juventus is one of those teams, when they're playing well, they win, and when they don't play well, they also win. That's one of the reasons they are one of the best teams in Europe, and win every year. They have a great mindset. I played two years in Italy, and I know the mindset that Turin players have, and the mood in the club is to win, win, win, which is why they're dangerous. This was the most dangerous opponent, along with PSG (of the teams that could have been drawn against Bayern), and thanks to the draw, that's what we got.
On his relationship with Mario Mandzukic, and the difficulties with him - Difficult with him? No. He played a lot of minutes, a lot of games. He played in the semifinal against Real Madrid, if we had problems with him, he wouldn't have played. He played for two years here, his first year was insanely good, he was one of the most important players in winning in that first year. I've been a coach for six years, seven years, normally, in the Champions League, you play with the players that have worked together. I'm looking forward to it, he can come back here, and he can see the good mood of the people, and the respect for Mandzukic. Of course, for all the players I've coached, I wish them the best.
On whether it helps that Juventus is generally a defensive team - I don't know how they will play against us. I've watched them two or three times on TV, but I haven't analyzed them yet. They can play with a four-man backline, with a five-man line. Anotnio Conte did a fantastic job in Turin, got a top performance there, but we haven't analyzed yet. We have time, we have the winter break, and more importantly, February.
On who is the favorite in this matchup - I don't know. If you want me to say, 50-50, I'll say 50-50. But I'll say it again, in February, five days before our first game, I will let you know what level we're at. Right now, where we stand, with our many injuries, that's the most important thing for me at this moment.
With Bayern clinching the unofficial Herbstmeister title, and Darmstadt losing 0-4 to Hertha, on who is the favorite in that matchup - (This question was delivered by Hörwick with a little sarcastic smile/smirk, but Pep misses it) I know, what can I say? As the coach of Bayern, not just now, but 15 years or ten years ago, what can I say, Bayern Munich have to win, but that's not a topic now. Tomorrow, we start at 0-0, and 11 on 11, with one referee, and we have to show we're the favorite. A favorite is a team that plays with a lot of character, has players with personality. After a 0-4, their concentration and their intensity will be greater. We have to interpret their game. They play a lot of long balls, they win a lot of second balls, they produce a lot of set plays, with nine goals out of 15 or 16 goals (in the Bundesliga, it's 15) from set plays. They have big players, very fast players. We can't forget, in a group phase, we can lose a game, that happens, no big deal. But, tomorrow, it's a "final". We can also afford to lose in Turin, but not tomorrow.
On the fascination of playing DFB Pokal, and wanting to travel to Berlin - Pokal is insane. In my first year, we reached the final in Berlin, unfortunately, through an uncontrollable reason (is he talking about de Bruyne?), we didn't last season. Hopefully, we can control it this year, and play as well as possible for the situation that we can't control, and reach the next phase.
On the current injury situation - We have enough players. If we don't reach the quarterfinals, it will be our fault, or because of Darmstadt's performance. Here, you have to win all the time. We've played ok in the last two or three games, because our choices up front, especially on the wings, are a little limited. We can thank our 19-year old hero for our style of play. But, tomorrow, playing style isn't the most important, the most important is playing it like a final. If you get a red card, you're out. If you don't defend throw-ins, free kicks, corners without the right mindset, you're out. A final is completely different.
On whether Pep will use notes again to relay messages to players - I don't know. It was the first time in my career, because I had to switch four players around. If you're switching one around, you can just tell them, but when you're making all these changes, if you try to tell them, you go here, you go there, they might get it by the 85th minute. It was quicker doing it through Philipp Lahm. It was the first time in my career, normally, it won't happen again.
On what is on Pep's Christmas list - Health for everyone (is he talking about his players, or the whole world? Let's give him the benefit of the doubt). And lots of champagne. Christmas, you drink champagne, my friend.
On whether it's difficult to get the players focused when playing an underdog like Darmstadt, despite all the injuries - (Pep misunderstands the question, focusing on playing through injuries instead, which serves the reporter right for using complicated German words and sentence structure) Last season, we played with this situation for four months. We didn't lament about it last season, even in the semifinal against Borussia Dortmund (lost on penalty kicks), at my post-game press conference, I congratulated Jürgen Klopp, when we lost to Barcelona, I congratulated them on reaching the final. We don't complain, but, to compete against the best teams in the world, you need a full roster. Last season, I said it a thousand million times, my 13 or 14 players who played every three days for four months, they are my heroes. For me, it was the toughest season of my life, we did a great job. The situation is the same, ok, we will fight, because I have full confidence in my players. Eleven players is enough, three or four on the bench, with these players, with Badstuber's problem (points to his forehead to explain the huge cut that Holger Badstuber played with in the last game), or with Thiago, who was injured for a month, the mindset is what makes the difference. Only the mindset, because we already know the playing style. We know everything about Darmstadt, we know what we have to do. Do we want to reach the quarterfinal or not? That's the question we have to ask ourselves.
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.