Bayern Munich play in the Bundesliga, which means four fewer league games per season than other top leagues like in England and Spain. However, 2022/23 and the timing of the winter Men’s World Cup presented unique challenges to the season preparation schedule — both in August and at the mid-season ‘break’.
“In general, I found the preparation almost longer than in previous years. It always felt like that for me: I came back from vacation and a week later we played the Supercup,” midfielder Joshua Kimmich said in a preseason interview with Tz. “Looking back, our preparation was still short, of course. I think it was three weeks for me. Before that, there were the four games with the national team. Still, that’s enough time. You definitely want to get going again.”
So while rest is important, there’s nothing like playing games to get back into gear. Perhaps that explains the Bavarians’ doldrums in January, after the World Cup. The Bundesliga took longer than other leagues to get back into action, and Bayern played only one friendly.
“We always look forward to a winter break, especially because there are usually a lot of games in a tighter schedule at the end,” Kimmich had said back then — when the World Cup wasn’t very much on his mind yet. “But it also depends on our season in the club, whether one is mentally very stressed. I hope that we play a successful first half of the season in all competitions so that we can go to the World Cup with a good feeling.
“One doesn’t depend on the other, though. But of course you go to the national team with a better feeling if you’ve previously been successful in the club. In the end, I was particularly happy about the four Nations League games in the summer, because otherwise — even though we were German champions — we would have ended the season on a somewhat negative note emotionally, because we lost at the end and drew a few times. We didn’t have such a positive feeling then.”
Bayern’s club restarts have tracked recent German international results this year. After a positive ending to the summer, the Rekordmeister came fast out the gates. An exciting game in the September international break against England restored the spring in their step after some struggles just prior. And finally, the worst period came after the World Cup itself — a combination perhaps of the long rest and the dismal results.
Navigating these ups and downs mentally is a huge part of a professional footballer’s task. Fortunately, Bayern have mentality monsters in their ranks — Kimmich among them.