It's matchday six in the 2015/16 Bundesliga season, and it's an unusually quick turnaround for Bayern, as they follow up their 3-0 win against SV Darmstadt 98 on Saturday, with a Tuesday night matchup with last season's closest competitor, VfL Wolfsburg. The current DFB Pokal champions are four points behind the leaders, Dortmund and Bayern, and would love to close the gap. With Dortmund's current form, Bayern can't afford to drop points, and fall behind.
Pep Guardiola and media director Markus Hörwick sat down for the customary press conference with the sports media representatives.
FC Bayern Press Conference, September 21st, 2015
Here are the highlights of today's questions and answers (my interjections in italics):
On whether everyone is fit - I think everyone is fit. Before a big game, everyone is fit, I don't know what's going on, but it happens.
On the approach needed for VfL Wolfsburg - Every team has their specific tactics and players, that's normal. They are last season's vice champions, and the DFB Pokal winners, they have one of the best coaches, not only in Germany, but in the world, Dieter Hecking. It's a good team, and it will be a good game tomorrow. But we have to focus on the three points, on our tactics, and what we need to do. Then some regeneration, and then Mainz on Saturday. The people here wanted competition for Bayern Munich, so, welcome, we have big competitors in Wolfsburg and BVB [Dortmund], so that's good.
On what Wolfsburg's strengths are - Wolfsburg has had the same coach for three years, and the same system. They buy the right players for that system. The club follows the coach's wishes (is this a subtle dig at Bayern management? Nah!) They have lots of experience with Luiz Gustavo, Dante and Naldo (the Brazilian triumvirate), good build-up play, good goalkeepers, good switching of the sides, fast on the outside with crosses to [Bas] Dost (whether the Dutchman starts or not may depend on whether he has buried the hatchet with Hecking, who was not happy with his striker). Good quality, last season with Kevin de Bruyne, this season with Julian Draxler and Max Kruse. Two very strong defensive midfielders, very strong in set pieces ... it's a Champions League team, vice champions, I have lots of respect.
On why Bayern seems to have so many problems with Wolfsburg - We've played four times, and we've won three (in the Bundesliga). We've been German champions twice, that's the important part. The individual games in the league don't mean anything to me, if we are champions, we're champions. In the Supercup, we did a good job, but gave up a goal in the last two minutes. But, if it's tough, there's only one reason: they are a good team, they have good players, and a good coach. Of course, Bayern can lose, because the opponents are good.
On whether Arjen Robben will be fit for tomorrow - (Robben was seen running today) Arjen? No!
On whether Franck Ribery has started running - No, not yet.
On what's happening with Dortmund - (Dortmund won again on Sunday to keep their perfect record, and currently still lead Bayern by goal difference) BVB is in two weeks (Bayern hosts them on October fourth), we have to time to watch and discuss them.
On whether Wolfsburg is able to consistently challenge Bayern - Yes. They've invested in players, 35 million, 30 million. In the last five or six years, they have gotten better and better. They're fighting to be German champions, and to do well in the Champions League, and to win the Pokal again. They're one of the best teams in Germany, there's no doubt about that. Tomorrow, we will need our best effort to win.
On whether Wolfsburg is sandbagging - (In today's press conference in Wolfsburg, Hecking said that Bayern are still way ahead) I don't know. I do know, I am sure, that Wolfsburg are flying to Munich to win.
On Dieter Hecking's comment that the atmosphere is not that great at Allianz Arena, compared to other big venues - OK, that's his opinion. I like the atmosphere, I like my fans. As a coach, I am always looking forward to being at the Allianz Arena. Every game.
On whether this is the best roster Pep has had at Bayern - The roster has always been strong at Bayern. I took over a roster that had won the triple the year before. The only thing is that we have been together for a while now, the players understand better what we want, and I understand my players better. I needed time to get to know them, and put them in different positions, to see what works (and put them in different positions, you have!).
On Borussia Monchengladbach's disastrous start, after challenging last season - I have a lot of respect for Lucien [Favre] (he resigned yesterday after an 0-5 start, with a loss in CL as well, leaving Gladbach in the lurch), his defensive work, his 4-4-2 are insanely good. It just shows how hard it is to play football. One day, you are one of the best, tomorrow, with essentially the same roster and the same tactics, you don't know what's wrong. I know, they lost Max Kruse and Cristoph Kramer, and I know how important they were. But, it could happen here, it could happen to us.
On whether Pep watched Dortmund's 3-0 win on Sunday against Leverkusen - I watched Wolfsburg against Inglostadt and Hertha Berlin, that was my assignment yesterday. With only three days off, I don't have a lot of time to watch other games.
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.