Watching Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola giving instructions in a training session can be almost as entertaining as the array of skills which his players bring to the pitch. During a ten-day training camp in Qatar, Guardiola highlighted that he was pleased to have had his players training together for an extended period of time as they prepared for a second half of the season which sees them competing for all three trophies on offer.
With the German outfit back in UEFA Champions League action today in their Round of 16 match-up with Shakhtar Donetsk, the two-time winning coach said the Spanish sides were among the favourites this year, along with the two teams who play each other in the night’s other high-profile clash.
“We have many World Cup winners in our team, so we didn’t have as much time with them in pre-season as we had during the winter break," he told www.sc.qa. "The three Spanish teams are among the favorites, yes, but also Chelsea will be in the fight, and maybe PSG. We’d also like to be there in Berlin."
Guardiola added that last season’s semi-final defeat against Real Madrid would make the side stronger this time around as they look to put together another winning run in Europe: “I learned from it. You can’t always win, it’s life, it’s sport. Shake hands and say they were better. It was not our best moment, but to win a semi-final you need to have all the details in place and a good mentality. I was not on top form either and we didn't play to our capabilities."
With Bayern Munich coming off a resounding 8-0 home victory over Hamburg at the weekend, the defending Bundesliga champions have their sights firmly set on both domestic and continental silverware after the winter break.
“We want to win more," he continued. "The Bundesliga is the most important title. I know how important the Champions League is for this club. To win the Champions League you also need to have the conditions on the day.”
Guardiola, who also praised the National Sport Day that Qatar has implemented which was celebrated on 10 February, said the country's population had the opportunity to make the most of worldwide attention as the country prepares to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup™.
“Enjoy it, make the most of it," he smiled. "The people in Qatar have to help the country make the event as good as possible. The world will be watching and I hope the people here can help out to show that they are capable of hosting the biggest event in football.
“FIFA has always tried to look for new areas to promote the sport. They went to South Africa in 2010 and in 2022 they have decided to come here. It’s a good step to come to this part of the world. It will help the rest of the world to know this area. Football at the end is a great opportunity to meet different cultures.”
Germany’s national team captain Bastian Schweinsteiger and his team-mate Jerome Boateng added that the number of fans turning out to follow the Bavarian side in Qatar has been increasing on a yearly basis.
“In Qatar we always have very good conditions," said Schweinsteiger. "The number of fans following us here has increased from last year, and the weather is not too warm, so everything works for us. Qatar was chosen for 2022 and with the weather we have to find a solution which works for the teams. A solution will be found, I don’t see any problems. I think it will host a good World Cup.”
Meanwhile, Boateng added: “The number of supporters is getting bigger every year. Not just Bayern Munich shirts, but also German national team ones. There is a great atmosphere here, they are football crazy and it shows.”