Finally! Unless you count that
fan-fest-type friendly DFB-Pokal first round match against fifth division FC Nöttingen, the real season starts on Friday. First up for the defending Bundesliga champions is Hamburger SV, the team that barely crawled out of the relegation spots into the playoff spot last season, and then survived by the skin of their teeth against Karslruher SC. Can Bayern start the season off with a bang, in front of their home crowd at the Allianz Arena? If the last six home games against their former rivals from the North is any indication (33 goals for, 3 goals against), the answer should be a resounding "Ja!".
Pep Guardiola and media director Markus Hörwick sat down for the customary press conference with the sports media representatives.
FC Bayern Press Conference, August 13, 2015
I will cut the suspense right away: none of the reporters asked about Pep's expiring contract, or when he will make a decision on an extension, and in return, Pep didn't tear off any journalist's head.
Here are the highlights of today's questions and answers (my interjections in italics):
On whether Pep is nervous before the first Bundesliga game of the season – No, I was nervous before my very first game against Borussia Mönchengladbach, but not now. I am content and motivated
On Karl-Heinz Rummenigge's statement that Kevin De Bruyne is not coming, and Thomas Müller and Mario Götze are staying – I already knew that two or three weeks ago, so it's not news to me. Thomas is staying (rumors still persist that Louis van Gaal is trying to lure him to Manchester United), Mario is staying (reports had the Germany international contemplating a move away from Munich), and Kevin De Bruyne is staying ... at Wolfsburg.
On how Pep expects the team to develop further in his third season – Bayern has always had an unbelievable roster, not just this year, or recently. [Franz] Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller, [Karl-Heinz] Rummenigge, Uli Hoeness, or Sepp Maier, with [Stefan] Effenberg, [Lothar] Matthäus, they've always had a very good roster. My goal is, of course, to win this game, and then win the ones after it, and to play better. With this roster, we have to try. We know each other better now than two years ago. Now I need less time to explain what we want, it's a little more comfortable.
On the importance of having most of the players healthy – It's better (Duh!!!). It costs the club a lot of money when players are hurt. Of course, we have a super medical staff and physios, like always (little shoutout to Müller-Wohlfahrt). I'll be happy when Javi [Martinez] can come back (knee problems, expected to sit out until the next national team break), and of course Franck [Ribéry] and Jan Kirchhoff as well, and [Holger] Badstuber, who has been hurt for two years, I am happy for them [when they make it back]. We will be stronger with the full roster.
On the challenge of keeping all the players happy – That's impossible. Tomorrow, five or six players won't play, and they'll be unhappy with their coach. But, my thoughts are that all of the players will get to play [this season], all of them. Some more, some less, but they've trained very well, and when that happens, everyone needs to play. The players that will play more will be the ones that help me, help their teammates and help their club, they will get more chances to play. This applies to on the field and in the locker room. My players need to let their performance on the field speak for them, to be able to play in the "important" games, and everyone wants to play in the "important" games.
On newcomers Diego Costa and Arturo Vidal – Bayern got some outstanding players. Joshua [Kimmich] will be a very good player. He already is a good player, he will get better. He's very young, he's 19, he has a great personality, he's a fighter, he understands the game, can play in the midfield, and a little further up. He will be a great player for Germany. Douglas Costa has a quality that is hard to find: dribbling. Every coach in the world looks for that quality, and Douglas has it. He's only been here a month or two, he is still young, but he will have a long career. I won't say he will be the best, but in the future he will be one of the best five wingers in the world. He can play on the left or on the right, and when he plays in the middle, he has the intelligence and the eye for the situation. And Arturo, he has experience, has played in Germany and in Italy. He's a fighter, always goes full speed in training, no matter what. He has everything, running, fighting, strong in the air, great quality passing, and can play in a lot of different positions. These three young players are the future of Bayern Munich.
On Pep's goal for the season (fourth BL title in a row, triple, Champions League or to just make the team better) – My goal is to win the game tomorrow, and then against Hoffenheim (BL match day 2), and so on, but, of course, if we look a little further in the future, it's the Bundesliga. Of course, the Champions League too, but in the last 40 years, Bayern has only won it twice, which shows it's not easy. I've said it before, I would like to get to the semifinals with a healthy roster, that's my dream. After that, we will give it a try.
On the importance of Thiago – It depends on his health. When he is fit, he is an important player for me. But he needs to play games, that is his goal. In the last two years, he hasn't been able to do that. He helps the team, but the team has to help him, which applies to others too. On his own, Thiago is nothing. He needs the team, but the team is better with Thiago... he needs two or three months of games.
On speaking with Franck Ribéry – When I see him here, I talk to him. Every time I talk to him, he tells me he's doing better, everything is better. We hope, of course, that he can return as soon as possible.
On how Pep decides who gets to play – What's best for the team, that is the only reason. Sometimes it depends on the opponent, or on conditioning, or how good we practiced, or how well someone gets along with his teammates. It's always what's best for the team. I've never picked a starter to help the player. Sometimes, well, a lot of times, I make mistakes, and sometimes I make less, but I always pick eleven players that I think are the best for the team, for the club, and to win the game. It doesn't mean that I am angry with the players that didn't play, or I'm disappointed with them, or they don't deserve to play, no! They all deserve to play. If they didn't deserve to play, because they didn't train hard, then they wouldn't be in this club.
At this point, Markus Hörwick takes the opportunity to make an important announcement: Bayern are declaring war on the Wildbiesler (directly translated from Bavarian as "wildpissers").
Apparently, they have a problem at the Allianz Arena with people (usually males, for obvious reasons) that don't want to wait in line, and end up urinating outside of the lavatories. If caught, they will now be thrown out of the stadium, can lose their season ticket, and even get banned from the stadium. So, remember kids, always use the bathrooms!
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.