It's time once again for a classic rivalry that dates back to the heyday of the 1970s, when FC Bayern Munich and Borussia Mönchengladbach would dominate the Bundesliga, splitting nine titles in a row between them (five for Gladbach, four for Bayern). It's a showdown between the league leaders, and the third place team, and also the two best defensive clubs this season. Pep Guardiola and media director Markus Hörwick sat down for the customary press conference with the sports media representatives.
FC Bayern Press Conference, March 20th, 2015
Friday's press conference was somewhat short, due to the UEFA Champions League draw earlier in the day, and, not surprisingly, a lot of it revolved around the next opponent in the CL quarterfinals, FC Porto. Bayern players and officials attended the press conference prior, so Pep's portion was abbreviated. Here are the highlights of today's questions and answers (my interjections in italics):
On whether Pep would have preferred playing against Real Madrid or Barcelona - No. Everyone has earned their spot in this stage of the Champions League. Spanish teams are very strong, Madrid and Barcelona have outstanding players, they buy players of outstanding quality for a lot of money. But, it's a luck of the draw, and every opponent has their own special quality. When we analyzed Shakhtar Donetsk, we also saw FC Porto, since they were in the same group. Porto is usually represented in European competition. Benfica, Sporting or Porto always win the Portuguese championship. Great atmosphere, beautiful stadium and good quality among the players, but we have two or three weeks to analyze the team as best we can.
On Pep's thoughts about Porto - They're physically strong, they have some Brazilian players. They play forward very quickly with [Cristian] Tello from Barcelona, a big, strong presence with Jackson Martinez at forward, Danilo, Real Madrid's player at right back, Casemiro (another Real Madrid loanee), they all have quality, and they're young. They haven't lost a game yet in the Champions League, that shows how good they are. It's the quarterfinals, I can't expect an easy or comfortable game, it's always tough. We will try our best to reach the semifinals, like we did last season (let's hope the end result is better than last season).
On Porto's coach, Julen Lopetegui - He did a very good job in the Spanish national team (Lopetegui coached the U19, U20 and U21 teams). It's his first experience in a foreign country, it's not easy with the language and many other things (Yeah, learning a new language has really slowed you down, Pep). He's done a very good job so far, especially in the Champions League, and are fighting for the title against Benfica. He's a good guy, we played together in Barcelona, he was a goalkeeper, and I was a midfielder. It was a good experience, and I am looking forward to playing against him.
On Borussia Mönchengladbach' development - We've only allowed 11 goals, but, Mönchengladbach has only let in 20, so they are the second best team. They are incredibly organized on defense, they're a very good team, and they're third in the league, which shows how good they are. They played very well in both games against Sevilla in the Europa League, and were a little unlucky (Gladbach were eliminated by Sevilla in the intermediate round against the Spanish team after two losses, both by one goal). They played well in Sevilla, especially in the first half, and also played outstanding here. I watched at home, and I was surprised at their performance, before Granit Xhaka got a red card in the second half. At the moment, this is a very important game. If we can win this game, with eight games to go and an 11 point lead, it will be a great development, because we still have to play Dortmund, Leverkusen and Hoffenheim. After this game, we have two weeks to prepare for Dortmund, Frankfurt, the DFB Pokal game against Leverkusen, and, of course, Porto. We need our fans, we need their support. I know we can always depend on them anyway, but we really need them.
On Gladbach's coach, Lucien Favre - He's a great coach. I saw that in my first game (3-1 win at home in the Bundesliga season opener in 2013/14), his team always plays at a high level. Well organized, clear direction, and he has a lot of experience in the Bundesliga, he's been here many years. I have a lot of respect for him.
On Holger Badstuber's callup to the national team - Congratulations to him. He was playing in the national team when he was 21 or 22, the only reason he hasn't played in three years was that he was injured. I am very satisfied with him. It's a big honor for Bayern Munich to have all those players called up, it shows how important the club is for Germany.
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.