Cologne - Hasan Salihamidzic played for both FC Bayern München and VfL Wolfsburg during a storied 17-year career in professional football, but where do his loyalities lie in this Saturday's Supercup?
In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, the retired Bosnia-Herzegovina international midfielder-turned-pundit weighs up both sides' prospects for the coming campaign, before giving us his big tip for the Bundesliga's traditional curtain-raiser at the Volkswagen Arena...
bundesliga.com: Hasan Salihamidzic, two of your former clubs - VfL Wolfsburg and FC Bayern München - go toe-to-toe on Saturday. How significant is the German Supercup?
Salihamidzic: The Supercup is an important title that you really want to have in your collection. It’s always nice to start the season with a win and some silverware.
bundesliga.com: It’s also a clash between last season’s best two teams in the Bundesliga. It goes without saying neither side will want to show any weaknesses.
Salihamidzic: I’d like to think so. It’s the first showdown of the season. Both teams want to start the campaign on a high note and with a win.
bundesliga.com: Do you think Wolfsburg’s 4-1 win over Bayern from last January comes into it?
Salihamidzic: One thing is clear: there’s no way Bayern will underestimate Wolfsburg. They didn’t do that in January, but now they’re even more aware of the quality Wolfsburg possess. Last season they were DFB Cup champions and won a trophy. It’s a prestigious match-up in which Bayern will definitely be out for revenge.
bundesliga.com: Compared to last season, Wolfsburg’s squad has got even better. There haven’t been any notable departures, while Max Kruse is a big-name newcomer. How highly do you rate VfL?
Salihamidzic: They've got a really good squad; last season proved that. Wolfsburg are the team that could be a real threat to Bayern. They’re also in really good shape financially. It’s going to be another top game.
bundesliga.com: Two members of the wolf pack were honoured last weekend. Kevin De Bruyne was voted Player of the Year and Dieter Hecking Coach of the Year. Will that spur the side on or is there a danger they’ll take a step back after successes like that?
Salihamidzic: I don’t think so. These awards are an added incentive, but they're playing Bayern. Wolfsburg have just started a successful chapter in their history. They’re all hungry. They’ve got a lot of young players in the squad and are in the process of building a top side. They’re a long way from being done yet. I’m curious to know where a player like Max Kruse fits in. Bayern have also brought in some quality players.
bundesliga.com: You said it. In a way, Arturo Vidal is one of your successors. A gifted midfielder, who sometimes sails a bit close to the wind, but is also a goalscoring threat. What do you make of the signing?
Salihamidzic: He’s a top signing for Bayern. He’s a world-class player who brings passion and commitment to the table. I really like that. He’ll give the team another lift and bring an extra bit of passion. He always plays to his limit and was a mainstay at Juventus.
bundesliga.com: Vidal’s come in, Bastian Schweinsteiger has moved on. How much does his departure hurt you?
Salihamidzic: ‘Schweini’ has always been a quality player. As a Bayern fan, I’m really sorry to see him go, but it was his wish. I also think it’s good when a player gains experience abroad. It’ll definitely do him good both as a player and a person and broaden his horizons. I know that from my own experience. I wish him the best of luck.
Salihamidzic: No team has ever won four Bundesliga titles in a row, not even our team that were champions in 1999, 2000 and 2001 (laughs). That’s why it’s even more of an incentive for the team, who have already set so many records, to break this one. With their squad and options, Bayern are always the favourites for the title, but it’s hard to win it year after year. It’s a massive ask.
bundesliga.com: What’s your prediction for the Supercup?
Salihamidzic: In spite of everything else, I’d like to think that Bayern will win it, even though it’s in Wolfsburg. I’m going for a 3-1 Bayern win.
Interview by Tobias Gonscherowski