Bayern Munich’s head coach Pep Guardiola (right) talks with Thomas Mueller (centre) during their team’s training session at Aspire Academy in Doha, yesterday. Bayern Munich is in Qatar for the winter training camp which will end on January 13. The Bundesliga giants are preparing for the second half of the season. PICTURES BY: KAMMUTTY VP
by Armstrong Vas
Doha: Last season Bayern Munich breezed through every competition and cup final in spectacular style to add a few more trophies to the cabinet.
Coach Jupp Heynckes set the wheels in motion and his replacement Pep Guardiola is aiming to carry forward the legacy.
The Spaniard is tailoring his training plans towards his vision of the game and the nine-week winter training camp in Qatar is where he is fine tuning it.
“We have to improve as a team. We want even more control. We want even more of the ball,” the 42-year-old said during a press conference here yesterday.
The German season is currently on its winter break, with Bayern leading the way in the Bundesliga table by seven points with a game in hand over second-placed Bayer Leverkusen.
Bayern’s busy season schedule, 29 games in total, has spanned several continents and has resulted in victory for in all but three encounters.
But Guardiola has sights on more silverware at Bayern and is aiming tighten up a few loose ends.
“We have to work on everything, our physical fitness and our tactics,” he added.
Last season the Bavarians swooped to their 24 German championship, smashing almost every record in the book. Borussia Dortmund, their closest challengers somewhat 24 points further back, simply couldn’t keep apace.
With a domestic title in the bag, the Champions League, Bayern’s fifth European Cup success, and the DFB Pokal duly followed.
The Spaniard is not concerned that his players hunger for success might have diminished in the light of an outstanding 2013.
“The players are very intelligent,” noted Guardiola, on the second day of the winter camp.
“I don’t have to tell the players to perform. That’s the best mentality.”
Guardiola who played for Al Ahli in the Qatar League in the 2003-05 season said it was for the first time he has been to the state-of-the-art facilties at Aspire Academy, Bayern’s base for the winter training camp.
“I’m very impressed with the facilities. I had heard about Aspire Academy from many friends but did not get a chance to visit it,” said the former Spain international, about the facility which was inaguarated in 2005.
“It’s really convenient, the training ground is right next to the hotel. Perfect! That is the reason Bayern choose to train here for the fourth successive year,” he added.
With harsh winter conditions prevailing in Germany, he said the weather conditions were ‘superb’ in Doha.
“The weather is a bit better here than at home. It’s very pleasant,” the former Barcelona coach added, who spoke in German, the language he learnt before taking over the job at Bayern. Guardiola, who also spoke in Spanish and English, said he is hoping for the quick returns of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Arjen Robben.
“We have three weeks until the first match. I hope both can play in Mönchengladbach,” Guardiola confidently commented after surveying the pair in the initial workouts of the New Year.
“He’s in much, much better shape. He can run without any problem,” Guardiola, said about Schweinsteiger process who underwent surgery on his right ankle some eight weeks back. The Peninsula