Bayern Munich’s promotion for the International Champions Cup tour has kicked off and today the club’s public relations department made David Alaba available to the global media corps.
We were there (well, on the conference line anyway!) and Alaba talked through a number of topics, not the least of which was how much he was looking forward to the International Champions Cup, which will feature dates in Philadelphia (July 25th) vs. Juventus and Miami (July 28th) vs. Manchester City. The full rundown of events is at the bottom of the page and also captured here.
The International Champions Cup Tour
Alaba, who is entering his 10th season with Bayern, had a bit of an extended break after logging some international duty for Austria. After that respite, the 26-year old is ready to dive deep into Bayern’s preseason preparations.
Last season was very intensive, we had a lot of games and it was very hard. We didn’t make it to the Champions League finals and it was unlucky. Of course, it was very, very good for me and I guess for everybody to get their heads free to enjoy these weeks off and to start very good this preseason and to prepare very well.
Alaba is looking forward to the United States trip and thinks it is a good opportunity for the team to get ready for the upcoming season.
For me and also for the team and for the club it’s very important to make this U.S. tour. We are very thankful for the support over there in the U.S. My experience in the U.S., when we have made the tour was always nice. It is beautiful, and we love the people over there, and we are very thankful and glad for their support. We are happy and looking forward to the tour.
It is very important to move over here to the States, play a couple of games, and see the people over there. They love us over there and also the the support means a lot to us and we want to give it back to the people over there with our games, our meetings, and our (public) trainings. For us, it’s a lot of fun to be there and have good times over there.
Specifically, Alaba spoke on his experience in Miami, where he previously spent a holiday.
Yeah, I was there once on my holiday a few years ago and I enjoyed it very much over there. As I said before, the people are very nice over there and I’m always looking forward to visit(ing) the States and I was there once in Miami and had a wonderful time over there.
When asked about how Bayern would approach the friendlies on the tour, Alaba made no mistake that Die Roten is there to play well and prepare for the Bundelsiga, but to also put on a show for the U.S. fans.
First of all all, we want to have a good performance on this tour. It is our goal as a team (to play well) and of course, we want to travel to Miami or to the States to to win every single game and prepare properly for the next season.
Adjusting to Niko Kovač, his development under Pep Guardiola, and where he likes to play
Alaba has only been in camp with the team for the past two days (physical testing yesterday and practice earlier today), so his opinion on how the team is adjusting to Kovač was not quite developed, but he is enthused to work under Kovač and indicated that he had positive conversations with the new skipper.
I started my training today and it was my first training on the pitch. The first contact (with Kovač) was very good, very positive and for me, I am looking forward to working with Niko Kovač and the feeling is very good at the moment.
To progress to this stage in his career as a veteran leader, Alaba worked under Jupp Heynckes, Carlo Ancelotti, and Pep Guardiola among others. When asked about the influence Guardiola had on his career Alaba spoke of the Manchester City coach with great admiration.
First of all, he meant a lot to me. I guess I could learn a lot of from him. From him I knew that I could play a lot of positions. He is one of the best coaches in the world, if not maybe the best from what I have seen. He meant a lot to me. I guess he’s doing a great job (at Manchester City). They won the championship in England in a very good way.
Through all of those different coaches, Alaba has evolved from midfield prospect to one of the best left backs on the planet. Still, Alaba prefers to be a little further up field where he can be more involved centrally and is closer to goal.
My favorite position was always in midfield. I’ve played there since I was a kid and yeah, you are involved in the ball and more near to the goal.
When asked about Austria’s 2-1 friendly win over Germany back in June, Alaba was slightly caught off-guard, but offered some insight on how he thought Die Mannschaft approached the friendly as it prepared for the World Cup.
Ooh. I don’t know the reasons why they (weren’t) successful in this World Cup. We played against them I guess we played very good (laughs). Maybe it was not their day, but it was also a friendly game and it was also shortly before the World Cup and they wanted to take care that they wouldn’t have injuries for the World Cup and those things. But I really don’t know the reasons whey they weren’t more successful in the World Cup.
Alaba was also asked if there would be any lingering effect that could possibly be there for Bayern’s German contingent as they tried to shake off the disappointment of the squad’s performance in Russia.
No, I don’t think so. You can’t compare national team and club. We have a great squad over here in Munich. Also, the German players are very important for us in this team and we know their quality and we know that they are very hungry for success. I am very sorry for them with what happened in the World Cup. In this preseason we will work together and want to reach our goals; I don’t think that will have some influence on our team.
When the conversation shifted to his thoughts on the championship match-up between Croatia and France, Alaba was quick to reference how the Vatreni have shocked the world and also spoke of his relationship with Croatian star and former Bayern man, Mario Mandžukić.
Nobody, I guess, expected Croatia in the finals but I guess it’s a very nice story for Croatia and for Mario Mandžukić. I know him very well and had a great time with him in Munich and I’m very happy for him that he reached the finals. Well see on Sunday what happens.
The impact of Franck Ribery and the changing landscape of soccer
One topic that Alaba always speaks to is the impact that Ribery has had on his career and how that translates to the field.
I guess it’s not a secret that Franck and me are really good friends on the field and out of the pitch. We’ve known each other 10 years and I guess you can see on the pitch how we (operate) and play together. For me it was very important in my career, especially in the beginning of my career when I came to the first team. He was there for me, always tried to push me, always helped me and tried to give me some advice to make (myself) better. He always helped me.
As Alaba has grown under Ribery’s influence, he has also developed a strong stance about allowing outside influences such as the media to have an effect on the squad; particularly when talking heads wax on the subject of winning the Bundesliga without facing top competition.
We don’t care about the noise outside the club. We are very proud of (winning the Bundelsiga) and very proud every single year. (To win the Bundesliga) It’s a big honor. Before the season starts, our biggest goal is to win the championship and to reach this goal we are very happy and very thankful. So, I guess we don’t care about the noise outside.
While many consider Bayern to be favorites in the league and among the primary contenders for the Champions League, a recent development you may have heard about, however, thrust another power club into the mix when Juventus acquired Cristiano Ronaldo.
I just heard it two days ago that he moved to Juventus. I guess this is his decision and Juventus is a good team with good players. They will have a better team, but we are looking at our team and looking to set our goals and want to reach our goals.
Alaba’s focus on the new season and getting off to a good start in the U.S. echoes much of the optimism surrounding the team right now. The excitement of a new season is spreading throughout the squad, but the work to achieve those goals that Alaba mentioned has just begun.
Tuesday, July 24th:
- “FC Bayern Pop-Up” at Dilworth Park: 12:00pm-4:00pm
- Semi-public training session (invite only) at Lincoln Financial Field: 5:00pm-6:00pm
- T-Mobile in-store autograph session at the T-Mobile store on Market St.: 8:00pm
Wednesday, July 25th:
- Fan club meet-up at New Wave Cafe: 1:00pm-3:30pm
- Fan club tailgate outside Lincoln Financial Field: 4:00pm-6:00pm
- FC Bayern Fanzone at Lincoln Financial Field: 5:00pm-7:00pm
- FC Bayern vs. Juventus: 7:00pm-9:00pm
Friday, July 27th:
- 5 vs. 5 legends match at Mana Wynwood Convention Center: 2:30pm-4:00pm
- House of Soccer / “FC Bayern Pop-Up” at Mana Wynwood Convention Center: 2:00pm-9:00pm
- Semi-public training session (invite only) at Hard Rock Stadium: 5:00pm-6:00pm
- Paulaner autograph session (invite only) at Fado Irish Pub: 8:30pm-10:00pm
- T-Mobile in-store autograph session at the T-Mobile store on Lincoln Rd.: 8:00pm
Saturday, July 28th:
- Paulaner Fan Boat (invite only) at Bayside Marketplace: 10:00am-1:00pm
- Fan club meet-up at Bavaria Haus: 1:30pm-4:00pm
- FC Bayern Fanzone at Hard Rock Stadium: 4:30pm-6:30pm
- FC Bayern vs. Manchester City at Hard Rock Stadium: 7:00pm-9:00pm