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Exclusive interview, part 2

Sammer: We still have room to improve

In the second part of an extensive interview with, one of the topics covered by Matthias Sammer was ways in which the current winning team could still improve. “In games where it doesn’t flow as easily as against Lille, we have to keep it tighter at the back,” the board member for sport advised. Sammer also discussed Mario Gomez, Javi Martínez and potential future transfer dealings.

Matthias Sammer interview, part 2: The all-Bavaria derby away to Nürnberg is on Saturday. What are you expecting from the match?
Matthias Sammer:First of all, I hope all our players return fit and ready to play from international duty. I always regard these international breaks critically and as a problem, because we have no contact with our players. Jupp Heynckes doesn’t know how the players are training and has to hope they take great personal responsibility. We’re expecting a very difficult match on Saturday.

What’s your view of the ‘autumn championship’, the unofficial title awarded to the team top of the table at the halfway point in the season?
We’re not thinking about that at all! Not even as an intermediate target.

After Nürnberg, you travel to Valencia on Tuesday for a potentially decisive Champions League group fixture...
We have to keep the competitions strictly separated. On Saturday, no-one - and I mean no-one – is allowed to be thinking ahead to Valencia. We have to put it out of our heads!

How would you assess the situation in the group?
It’s not entirely unproblematic. But we can’t be troubling ourselves with permutations, so we’re clearly aiming to win in Valencia.

It was and is a packed programme at this time of year, with a game every three or four days. Are you concerned the team might run out of steam towards the end of the year?
Our running and movement was still OK against Frankfurt, but we weren’t fresh, because we’d played in the Champions League. That's always an extreme burden. But fundamentally, our physical condition is very good. We won't have any problems at all this season in this respect. And on the rare occasions when we're not particularly lively, the first job is to keep it tight as a team, and then our big-name players have to make their presence felt. Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Manuel Neuer have to hold the team together.

So were you satisfied with the Frankfurt match in the circumstances?
In parts, but we still have room to improve. We shouldn't be taken in by the result, because Frankfurt had a chance or two of their own. In games where it doesn't flow as easily as against Lille, we have to allow our opponents even fewer chances. We have to keep it even tighter. And that's what the coach is telling the players.