After the opening game of the Champions League group phase, where FC Bayern Munich took care of business in Greece with a 3-0 win against Olympiakos, now it's back to the Bundesliga. Bayern travel north to take on SV Darmstadt 98, a team they haven't faced in an official match in 34 years (due to a voyage through the lower German divisions, bouncing back an forth between third and fourth divisions, before finally getting back to Germany's top league). Only two current Bayern players were even born (Xabi Alonso and Tom Starke) the last time these two clubs met.
Pep Guardiola and media director Markus Hörwick sat down for the customary press conference with the sports media representatives.
FC Bayern Press Conference, September 18, 2015
I am happy to report that the journalists seem to have learned their lesson. Nobody asked about Pep's contract situation, so the entire press conference saw Pep in a good mood.
Here are the highlights of today's questions and answers (my interjections in italics):
On the injury status of Robert Lewandowski, Xabi Alonso and Arturo Vidal - (all three of these players took knocks in the CL game against Olympiakos, and had to be taken off) The injuries aren't serious. Yesterday, Lewy had some pain, the others were doing better. I have to see them in training today, and talk to the doctors and physios, and we'll see (Alonso and Vidal were back at practice, while Lewandowski stayed inside and worked out).
On being able to rest players for the upcoming "English weeks" - Tomorrow is the most important, not next week. I wanted to play them tomorrow, but we will see.
On what he has noticed about SV Darmstadt 98 - Their playing style is different than all the other teams. They are very aggressive with and without the ball. They've started well, it's going to be a difficult game...they have a different style from Wolfsburg, for example, so we have to adapt to that. They're not a possession team, they don't switch sides, they play direct to their forward, draw many fouls...play counter attacks. They won in Leverkusen, and I know how hard it is to win there against Roger Schmidt's team. I have a lot of respect.
On the patience of the team when they don't score early - I would love to score on the first opportunity, and score a second one on the next opportunity. I would be super-coach Pep. That's not always possible, and we've talked about it in the Champions League and in the Bundesliga, it's always important to stay organized, to not allow the counter attacks, control our playing style, and create scoring opportunities as soon as possible.
On the importance of being in the right mindset for the upcoming games - Sometimes we have a week of preparation like against Leverkusen, and sometimes we have a day, or day and a half, like now. But, Bayern Munich gets these players for this reason, if they don't have this quality, they can't play for this club.
On how scoring is good for Mario Götze's confidence - Of course it's important for him, for a forward. I think, right now, Mario is calm. When he started against Hoffenheim, he was the best player on the field. When he plays 15 or 20 minutes, he plays well, with a good attitude. He will help us a lot this season.
On coaching legend Dettmar Cramer's recent death - Unfortunately, I never met him. My condolences to his family. He is a big part of this club's history.
On Franz Beckenbauer's recent criticism of Arturo Vidal - (The former Bayern great criticized the Chilean's play in the CL this week) I don't agree with Mr. Beckenbauer about Arturo. He's a Bayern Munich player, and he's been incredible since the beginning. I think back to what he did with the opposing players in Hoffenheim and Hamburg. Bayern decided to get Arturo, and he will be a great player for us.
On the upcoming Oktoberfest - (The world's largest festival is starting on Saturday) Each of the last two years, I've only been able to go once with the club. I hope I can go more this year.
On whether wine drinker Pep likes beer - It's too big. I like having a small beer, cold, and then have another. The big one isn't cold anymore after three minutes (the reporter proceeds to explain how to order a "Schnitt", which is a half-filled mug, so that the beer doesn't go warm). This year, I definitely want to go and order a Schnitt, not just with the club.
On whether Manchester United's and Manchester City's losses in the CL show that you can't buy success in the CL - Money helps to win the Champions League. If you have 60 million to buy Bale (you're a little off on that amount, Pep), or 96 million to buy Ronaldo, or 100 million to buy Neymar, or 81 million to buy Luis Suarez, you increase your chances of winning the CL. But, you're right, there's no guarantee. But it's only the first step. We'll wait to see what happens with Manchester City and Manchester United, and whether they can reach the next phase. But this shows you how hard it is to win in the CL.
On when Medhi Benatia and Holger Badstuber can come back - As soon as possible, I hope. Badstuber has started running, and Benatia too. Jerome Boateng and David Alaba can't play every game, they need a little regeneration, but the situation is what it is.
On Thiago's importance to the team, now that he's healthy - He played well the last two games. Yesterday, he was very sad about what happened to his brother (Rafinha Alcantara, his younger brother who plays for Barcelona, suffered an ACL injury, and will be out for an extended period). But, it's only been two games. We want Thiago at his best for a long time.
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.