Given the scale of Bayern’s achievements so far this season, it was no surprise that almost 200 media representatives from 18 countries, as far away as Japan, China and the USA, had travelled to the Bavarian capital, as global coverage of the club reaches boiling point.
The complimentary juice, coffee and Weißwurst -‘white sausage’, the traditional Munich breakfast - went down well among the assembled masses, as did a rare smile from sporting director Matthias Sammer during his welcoming speech.
Yet for all the joviality among the club staff and players as they emerged onto the pitch for their morning training session, there was the unmistakable sense that this was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The easy smiles and relaxed demeanours, genuine as they are, mask an unwavering desire for silverware. Light-hearted camaraderie and back-slapping during the warm-up soon gave way to intensely fought on-field battles.
There was no pulling out of tackles, no concern for reputations: just sheer focus on winning. Even the most insignificant decisions - a throw-in or corner kick - were demanded from coach-come-referee Jupp Heynckes, as if three points were at stake. The veteran strategist eyed his charges approvingly, occasionally interrupting to exhort more “Ruhe” (calm) or “Intensität”, or merely just to gee his players on.
Whether or not the squad were putting on a show for the international press - Bayern’s training sessions are usually strictly behind-closed-doors affairs - it served as a demonstration to the world of the root cause for their unprecedented season of record-bashing.
Urge for greatness
Heynckes would later put it down to his desire for the side to be as “well-prepared for the [Champions League] final as we were against Juventus and Barcelona.”
Yet perhaps the most telling moment of the whole occasion came after the cameras had stopped rolling and reporters had filed back into the stadium’s interior. The majority of the first-team squad had long since disappeared to get changed, but , who has been largely a spectator over the course of the season, stayed out on the pitch for extra training. No show, no false airs, just the constant pursuit of greatness.
Jonathan Stockitt reporting from the Allianz Arena