Munich - As he finished his first media conference of the new season on Thursday morning, FC Bayern München coach Pep Guardiola had one wish for the season: “I want a fit squad of players so I can play my formation!”
Injuries ripped through the heart of the German record titleholders’ squad last season, with Javi Martinez, Thiago Alcantara and Franck Ribery just three of the many names to have missed large chunks - if not all - of the campaign.
Returning to normality
As he plots a fourth successive Bundesliga title triumph for Germany’s biggest club, the Spaniard stressed the need for a clean bill of health, as far as is possible, for the players to get used to the ideas he plans to introduce.
Speaking to the press at the club’s Säbener Straße training ground, Guardiola admitted that he and the players had been keen to get back to work after the summer break. “The hot weather is welcome,” he said. “We’re eager to get going but first we have to stay calm and train.”
Costa a timely arrival
Unsurprisingly, injuries continue to rear their ugly heads, with Holger Badstuber still short of fitness and Franck Ribery pictured with crutches this week as he recovers from a troublesome ankle injury. A blow though the Frenchman’s absence may be, however, Guardiola now has a top-quality back-up option in the form of Brazilian international Douglas Costa, who signed a five-year contract with the club on Wednesday.
A similar player to Ribery - most at home on the wings and in his element when taking players on - Guardiola is confident the 24-year-old will make a seamless transition to football and life in Germany. “He has great quality. We need a player for one-on-one situations, and he’s young and a fighter.”
Doing the shirt proud
As for the player himself, he is itching to get out on the training pitch with his new team-mates. That will not be until July 11 as Costa has been given an extended break following his 2015 Copa America exploits, but his desire to excel for his new club is clear.
“Everything’s perfect here, and the heat will make it that bit easer for me to settle in!” he told fcbayern.de. “If you play for this club, you want to win trophies, so I want to go as far as possible in all competitions. I want to start fulfilling peoples’ expectations of me. I’m delighted to be here and to be able to wear this shirt.”