Reunion brings joy – or not. Pep guardiola had hardly chosen his intimate enemy jose mourinho as an opponent for his first game with FC bayern in the european spotlight.
But the supercup final between champions league winners and european league champions chelsea FC on friday will not only be explosive on the pitch, but also on the sidelines. "It’s about prestige. Our coach will be quite heib," explained president uli hoeneb on the trip to sunny prague.
The trickiest personnel decision guardiola wants to make only on match day. "Bastian is doing better. I hope he can play. He’s an important player for us," the coach said of midfielder schweinsteiger, who injured his right foot in a 1-1 bundesliga draw against SC freiburg. The 29-year-old took part in final training at eden stadium. Philipp lahm would probably be the first alternative in the position in front of the defense. "I have no problem playing in midfield," he said.
The feud between guardiola and his former real madrid opponent mourinho from his time at FC barcelona is not something the bayern coach himself wants to make the focus of the evening. "When the referee blows the whistle, it’s all about the players on the pitch. There are two rough clubs playing against each other, bayern and chelsea, that’s the most important thing," stressed the spaniard. Guardiola had already demonstrated that success against mourinho is particularly important to him by sparing stars like ribery or robben in freiburg.
Eleven times the coach rivals faced each other in games of barca against real in spain, 5:2 was the result after victories for guardiola. "Statistics are a thing of the past," guardiola dismissed. Mourinho is a master of counterattacking play. "Chelsea has a great coach – and so do bayern," said the catalan: "i will try to win the final. And he also."
Guardiola has won the supercup twice with barca. Now FC bayern also wanted to be the first german club to conquer it. "The supercup is important to us. I’ve lost it twice myself with bayern," recalled chairman karl-heinz rummenigge, referring to the 1975 final against dynamo kiev and the 1976 final against rsc anderlecht. 2001 kahn and co lost. FC liverpool 2:3. "It’s our task to finally bring the cup to munich," captain lahm declared resolutely at the press conference in prague.
Straight against chelsea. "We were unlucky not to win the final at home in 2012," rummenigge recalled the bitter penalty drama with schweinsteiger’s goal on the post. "You can say there’s still a score to settle," said thomas muller, whose headed goal in the 2012 final wasn’t enough for triumph.
It’s not just the coaches who are new to the bavarian vs. Chelsea rematch, however, and this also applies to a number of players. Also the former leverkusen andre schurrle on the side of the "blues". "I’m really looking forward to the game. It’s about a title – and we want to win it," said the 25-time national player in prague.
The backstories of the 2012 final and the two coaches give the game its roots. Otherwise, the supercup is not a competition that enjoys priority in international club soccer. Mourinho spoke of a valuable test a few weeks before the start of the champions league. And the portuguese had also teased his arch-enemy guardiola in the run-up: under jupp heynckes, bayern had been "the best team in europe. Now they had a new coach, "and I’m not sure they’re still that good anymore".