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Exclusive interview, part 2

Lahm: We can definitely get even better

The holidays last a little longer yet for Philipp Lahm and his team-mates, but the serious business starts again on 5 January with the annual winter training camp in Doha. By that stage the year 2013 will already be fading from the memory, and the task facing FCB will be to maintain focus and the hunger for success into 2014. “We want to get back to exactly where we were before. We want to make the finals again and we want more trophies,” Lahm declared in part two of our exclusive fcbayern.de interview, “but we know it’ll be a huge challenge.”

Lahm also discussed working with Pep Guardiola, summer signings Thiago and Mario Götze, his vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger, and playing in the holding role, his most frequent position this season so far.

Interview with Philipp Lahm, part 2

fcbayern.de: Let’s talk about you personally. Why do you never have an off day?
Philipp Lahm:
(laughs) Frankly I can remember one or two. But basically I just love playing football and I’m very passionate. And when your team functions as well as ours does most of the individuals generally look good.

You sustained a minor muscle injury in Moscow in late November. What did a very rare appearance on the injury roster feel like?
It was an odd feeling because I’ve basically missed hardly any matches with injury in recent years. Fortunately it was nothing dramatic. I knew immediately it would only take a few days before I was back out on the pitch.

Pep Guardiola has fielded you in the holding midfield position much of the time this season. You instantly settled to the job. What do you like about the position?
I have the skills you need to cope with the position, just like many other players in our team. It’s one of the main developments of recent years, with the various types of player becoming more and more similar to each other. I guess you still have central defenders and a handful of strikers with a different style of play. But full-backs, holding midfielders, inside forwards, playmakers and wide players are all extremely flexible, quick-witted, technically excellent and versatile in terms of position - myself included.

Guardiola has been your coach for six months now. How does he get on with you as captain?
Very well. We speak about everything. He’s always completely approachable when you have something on your mind or want to make a suggestion.

He recently called you the most intelligent player he’d ever coached…
It made me very proud. It was a huge condiment, especially when you consider all the superb players he’s coached in his time.

Mario Götze and Thiago joined Bayern last summer. How would you assess their progress so far?
We at Bayern can be delighted we’re able to attract players of this calibre. They’re both magnificent footballers with outstanding technique. It’s a pleasure watching the pair of them play. And they’re a perfect fit in terms of character. Both settled in immediately.

Let’s look to the future for a moment. 2013 was the most successful year in the club’s history, so what can the fans expect from 2014?
Obviously a repeat of last year is basically almost impossible, especially in the very next year. But we want to get back to exactly where we were before. We want to make the finals again and we want more trophies! But we know it’ll be a huge challenge.

Guardiola reckons there’s still plenty of unexplored potential in the team. Would you agree?
I certainly would. We need to dominate our opponents for the full 90 minutes in even more matches. We’ve eased off at times this season so far and let our opponents back into games. That can’t be happening on a regular basis. We’re heading in the right direction but it can certainly get even better. We saw what’s possible in our matches away to Manchester City and Leverkusen. We need more performances like those.

Is one of the targets to complete the entire Bundesliga season without defeat or is that asking too much?
It’s not something we’re thinking about. I know this is a cliche, but we’re taking each game as it comes. Records are nice and we’re happy to break them, but that’s not our focus. Every team loses a match at some point. We’ll try and keep our unbeaten run going as long as possible.

Bastian Schweinsteiger played a major role in last season’s treble, but he’s been plagued by injuries this season. How important will it be to have a fully fit vice-captain back for the second half of the season?
Basti has nothing more to prove to anyone. We all know how good he is. I just hope he can finally get back to playing his football without pain or discomfort. In that case I’m sure we’ll get a huge amount from him again.