Munich - Today, it was FC Bayern München’s turn to take the hottest seat and face the glare of the international media ahead of their Supercup clash with Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday evening (kick-off 18:00 CET).
'A fantastic counter-attacking side'
Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp had yesterday claimed that the “Supercup means a lot”, and Bayern's head coach Pep Guardiola followed suit in underlining the importance of the encounter at Signal Iduna Park: “A final is no pre-season friendly - you play these games to win”.
As relaxed as he might have looked, the Spaniard has maintained the intesity levels at the record titleholder’s plush Säbener Straße training complex gearing up towards his fifth meeting in just over a year with the tactical nous of Klopp. "We have to train with quality, not quantity," said Guardiola in response to being asked why he had cut training short on Monday.
Indeed, the Supercup clash could hardly be more perfectly poised with the Bundesliga's preeminent masterminds both picking up two wins in their four encounters last season. However, it was Dortmund who took the spoils this time last year - a loss that still rankles with Guardiola as one of only two trophies he hasn’t won with Bayern, and something he intends to change. “We’re flying to Dortmund to win,” said the Spanish tactician. “We have deserved to play in this fixture.”
Not that it will be easy. Last season’s 4-2 reverse for this trophy was a first taste of what Klopp's troops were capable of. “I know our opponents better than last season,” added Guardiola. “But I also know how hard it is to win in Dortmund. They’re a fantastic counter-attacking side, with a super defensive structure.”
Guardiola would not be drawn on his ways of countering that defensive structure, but did confirm that he has “only eight or nine fully fit players” at his disposal with his World Cup winners having only returned to action last week. New goalkeeper Pepe Reina will not travel north with his team-mates, however: “It is better that he stays in Munich, having only had two days of training.”
'It's a final, after all'
Manuel Neuer was next up on the podium, along with team-mate David Alaba. “We’ve got big targets for this season,” Bayern's Sweeper Keeper confirmed, reiterating that the World Cup success was a prelude for what he intends to win with the Bavarians this season. “I’m certainly hungry for more trophies, we’re playing our biggest rival - and we absolutely want to win this: it’s a final after all.”
Alaba was more prosaic in his approach to the press conference, allowing the current German Footballer of the Year to deflect journalists’ questions, but did highlight the side’s motivation when discussing last year’s loss in the Supercup final. “It’s never nice to lose a final,” said the Austrian. “This year we want to do better.” Doing better presumably means getting their hands on the first trophy of the 2014/15 campaign.