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Pragmatic and optimistic

Guardiola geared up for ‘huge challenge'

Pep Guardiola needed a brief moment to re-acclimatise. “It’s a pleasure…” he began in English at the first press conference at the Säbener Strasse following the summer break. But he realised his mistake, smiled briefly and continued in German. Guardiola has also had to acclimatise to the unusual circumstances on the training ground: two weeks into pre-season, the Spaniard still only has 12 of his first-team players back at the club.

“The training schedule is always a bit different after a World Cup because so many of the players are still on vacation,” commented the Catalan, who favours a pragmatic solution. “We work with the club's young players and get to know their skill and ability.” Guardiola is too much of a seasoned professional to complain: “We'll adapt to the situation.”

The group for training will grow a little larger on Monday when Xherdan Shaqiri and Julian Green, the next of the club's World Cup stars to return to Munich, join Javi Martínez and Co on the practice ground. The Germany internationals will not join up with their team-mates until a few days into the USA tour, but Guardiola thinks the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. “They're coming back as world champions and that's good for us. I'm delighted for them!”

Guardiola: Lewa’s quality is obvious

The boss is also very pleased with the players who are already working hard towards the new season in Munich, star signing Robert Lewandowski for example. “His quality was obvious immediately,” the head coach declared. “But he's at a new club with a new coach and new team-mates. He might still need a little more time.” That also applies to Holger Badstuber, who has “no more pain,” Guardiola reported, “and that's the most important thing. I'm very, very pleased with him.”

The Spaniard is looking forward to his second season at the Bayern helm, partly because he feels much more surefooted now. “I've become a little better,” he said. “I know the league and my fellow coaches better than I did before, but more than anything else I know my players better.” And the Catalan has big plans for the group: “Maintaining our level is a huge challenge, but we accept it.”