After the mid-week DFB Pokal game against VfL Bochum, which Bayern Munich won with a 3-0 scoreline, it's back to the Bundesliga. Next up is FC Augsburg, a team that has caused some problems recently for the Rekordmeister. While the players got a day off, due to playing on Sunday this week, Pep Guardiola made his way in, to sit down for the customary press conference with the sports media representatives.
FC Bayern Press Conference, February 12h, 2016
Here are the highlights of today's questions and answers (my interjections in italics):
On why Bayern has so much trouble against Augsburg - (Augsburg is the only team in the Bundesliga to beat Bayern twice during Pep's tenure) In three seasons in the Bundesliga, we have nine losses, five of those losses were when we had already clinched the championship. Two of those were to Augsburg. But we lost to Augsburg. It's a derby, [Markus] Weinzierl is a good coach, lots of experience in the Bundesliga (well, as a coach, really only one more season than Pep). It's a new game, I don't look at what has already happened, whether we won or lost, that is the past. There are still a lot of points to be won to defend our title.
On the status of Franck Ribery, Mario Götze, and Serdar Tasci - I don't know yet. Today is a day off, tomorrow is practice, and the decision will be made then.
On replacing Xabi Alonso, who is suspended due to a red card against Leverkusen - I haven't decided yet. I will watch our home game against Augsburg (from the Hinrunde), and at that point I imagine what we need to do, how we need to attack, defend, with which players. Joshua Kimmich could play there, or play at central defender. Sorry, I don't know yet.
On whether Pep has met with Carlo Ancelotti - (The future Bayern coach was spotted in Munich this week) I was in Bochum. Yesterday I was at home with my family (so, that's a "no"?)
On the significance of Daniel Baier missing the game - (The Augsburg midfielder will miss the game due to a hairline fracture in his ankle) Baier is an important player for Augsburg. His qualities are long passes, possession, ball control when they have the ball, he's an important player. But, they will find a solution. I don't know which players they'll use, but I'm sure Markus Weinzierl will play with 11.
On whether Joshua Kimmich has earned more playing time - Joshua has played as a defender the last three games, and we're happy. Before the winter break, he played right back and left back as well, and did it well too. Normally, his position is in the middle, but I am happy with what he's done so far as central defender. I don't know what will happen in the future, but it will depend on his performance on the field...It's not easy playing there [in central defense] against Leverkusen, or against Bochum, with the fast counter attacks, and he did very well. He might still play there, even after the central defenders come back.
On Pep's thoughts on the proposed changes to the DFB Pokal format - (A meeting of representatives from 16 Bundesliga teams resulted in suggestions on changes to the format, with top teams, and teams that play in European competition, to get byes into the second or third round, similar to other countries) I'm happy with it now. If someone were to ask me how to do the competition, it's perfect now. The small teams deserve to get to play the big teams. It's good for the small teams (not to mention, lucrative, especially when playing Bayern). The first rounds in my two seasons against third and fourth division teams were always tough. In my first year, they scored a goal at the end of the first half, and we had trouble creating scoring chances. It's much better than in Spain, much better. It's more attractive for the spectators, and for the fans. We can't forget, years ago, players with lots of quality, like Lothar Matthäus and Dieter Hamann lost to a fourth division side in the first round (in 1994, the mighty Bayern lost to minnows Vestenbergsgreuth, but it's interesting that he specifically names those two players, who, as current commentators on TV, have been taking pot shots at Guardiola for a while. It's Pep's way of getting back at them). That can happen. In Spain, with two games in each round, it's harder for a big club to lose. It's more attractive and interesting here, for the players as well... And, half an hour after the game, you have the draw [for the next round], it's very interesting to me.
On whether Pep knew Carlo Ancelotti was in Munich - That's not a problem for me. If I can help Bayern Munich, I will. The club does what it needs to do. They work for the present, but also for the future, and that's normal.
On Pep's opinion of video review - (DFB and DFL have stated that they plan to test video review over a two-year period in the Bundesliga) I think, sooner or later, it's going to happen. We play in very important competitions. Sometimes, making a decision in a split second is tough, the referee could be helped by video replay.
On whether the referees might be influenced by the penalty kick decision from matchday four - (In the Hinrunde against Augsburg, Bayern were given a penalty kick late in the game on a called foul against Costa in the box, which Thomas Müller converted. The referee admitted after the game that he and his assistant had made a mistake) No. I don't think so. In 20 games, that was the only decision that went our way. The other teams can't complain. I have a list of referee decisions, but I won't complain. In cases like this, it happens. After the game, I said I was sorry, it wasn't a penalty. Five months ago, the referees were trying to do their best, and they will do so again.
On whether Arjen Robben had his best game since his comeback - Yes. Arjen needs some time, but his aggressiveness going forward, his one-on-one skills, of course he's an important player for me, personally. He helped me a lot in the two years. And, let's not forget, in those two years, he was barely ever injured. This season, he has been a little more, and at the end of last season. But before that, he was always there, and very important for us.
On whether coaches from top teams exchange ideas and meet each other to discuss - I have very good relationships with my colleagues. I speak to them sometimes, like at UEFA meetings, or you can call each other. That's a normal situation.
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.