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Analysis and details

Guardiola: We’re better than last year

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The only folk at work on the pitches at the Säbener Strasse facility on Monday were the ground staff, remarking the lines and mowing the grass. The FC Bayern stars were either with their national teams or relaxing at home. It is typical of the mid-autumn international break, when the turf gets a rest and coach Pep Guardiola can review the first third of the season. And the coach says he is “satisfied”.

He has good reason to be too, as FCB are the undefeated Bundesliga leaders, have won their Champions League group at an earlier point in time than ever before, and are through to the last sixteen in the DFB Cup. “Results indicate we’re heading in the right direction,” said Guardiola, whose men have won 14, drawn three and lost none of their last 17 matches. “We’re making steady progress and we’re playing better than we were at the same time last year.”

Better, explained Guardiola, means that his troops are closer to his concept of perfect football. “We’re a bit better because we’re playing more and running less,” he said – and this despite the slew of triumphs in recent years and the rigours of the World Cup last summer. “The players are doing outstanding work. They’re always mentally up for it,” continued the boss, although he will never cease to demand more: “We’re still not playing exactly the football I want. We can get better in many small details.”

Analysis and development

And the details can be decisive, especially in the Champions League. Guardiola spoke again of the home defeat to Real Madrid in last season’s semi-final second leg when three of Real’s four goals came from dead-ball situations. The Spaniard thinks FCB should look at that and learn, because his team’s return from set-plays is currently “a catastrophe, and we obviously have to improve.”

Guardiola intends to work on that and other areas during the next two weeks. “We have a couple of days of peace and quiet, so we can analyse what we’ve done well and what we can do better,” the 43-year-old remarked. Thanks to the club’s excellent position in the league and cups, the coach has the luxury of devoting time to plotting further progress and development. “It’s only November,” he warned, “it would be boring if we started thinking we’ve already peaked. We still have a long way to go.”