Bayern Munich’s 27-year-old Javier Martinez is back for action after an injury break. The central defender and midfielder missed Euro 2016 with the Spanish national team. Now the Spaniard is desperate to win new titles with new Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti.
“He told us to take up a more vertical and direct style,” Martinez said in a recent Xinhua Interview.
On top, Martinez said he is looking forward to Bayern’s U.S.-Tour starting this Monday and has no plan to return to Spain and join his former club Athletic Bilbao.
Following is the full text of the interview:
Xinhua: Some say Carlo Ancelotti is a coach with let’s say a human touch as he is said to speak a lot with his players. Others have to take care because he sometimes raises his left eyebrow which is regarded as a warning sign. Well, how dangerous is it talking to him?
Martinez: (laughing) Dangerous, you must be kidding. I did not know him prior to him coming to Munich. I once played for Athletic Bilbao against one of his teams, but that was the only occasion we “met”.
Xinhua: Meaning he is not a dangerous coach?
Martinez: (laughing) You like the word “dangerous”. But I must disappoint you. The first impression was very, very good. He talks a lot with us and has a close relationship with the people at our club. Don’t people say the first impression counts most? As for Carlo Ancelotti, the first impression was far from dangerous, more like very good.
Xinhua: Can you tell us something about the differences to Pep Guardiola when it comes to Carlo Ancelotti?
Martinez: Pep Guardiola as well was a communicative coach. But every coach has his special way and methods. You can’t compare different coaches. After all we’re just starting with Carlo Ancelotti.
Xinhua: Is training much different?
Martinez: We worked a lot with the ball and did different drills. But that is normal when a new coach takes charge.
Xinhua: Do you expect the team’s style of football will change? Under Pep Guardiola Bayern Munich had a high amount of possession in the games?
Martinez: I basically expect that we will play a similar style with a lot of possession. There maybe some slight changes whereby we take a more direct route. He told us to play in this way.
Xinhua: Bayern will change into a more direct game, and attack the opponents goal a bit earlier that before?
Martinez: Playing more vertically does not always mean to shoot earlier, because you still have to wait for the right moment. But if you change the game slightly, you might get chances earlier as well.
Xinhua: Let us talk about your future position. You can play as a central defender as you did in the friendly against Manchester City (1-0) or in midfield. What do you prefer?
Martinez: Carlo Ancelotti asked me what I prefer, midfield or central defence. I told him I like to play on both positions depending on where the team and he needs me most.
Xinhua: Mats Hummels from Borussia Dortmund has joined the team. His position is in central defence. Hummels will increase the quality of the defense as he is a world class player. Where do you expect to play?
Martinez: As I said, I’m ready for both positions. In the Manchester friendly, I played central defence because Holger Badstuber is still on his way back to full training and others are still on vacation after Euro 2016.
Xinhua: Was it useful for you not being a part of the Spanish Euro 2016 squad, meaning you will have a thorough pre-season preparation. You’ve had a few injury problems recently.
Martinez: I wouldn’t say that. I would have loved to have been a part of the Spanish team but I was unable to play with an ankle injury. I was disappointed not to play at Euro 2016. But on the other hand you’re right, I had what you can call a long summer to get my ankle and knee fit for the new season. All looks good now and I feel fully fit.
Xinhua: Did you watch Euro 2016?
Martinez: Oh yes.
Xinhua: For years now in Germany, there have been discussions about the successful Spanish way. Looking at the German games it looked pretty much like the Spanish way, meaning playing with a large amount of possession.
Martinez: Yes absolutely. The German way has changed over the past years and is a little bit like the Spanish style. The German did very well, but Euro 2016 shows it is very difficult to win Euro after a World Cup. Now we know how difficult it was for our Spanish team to win Euro twice and the World Cup.
Xinhua: Is it a good idea to copy a system from others?
Martinez: As always in football you have thousands of different opinions. It is hard to say this way is the right way. Every coach has to find a way that suits his team and one the team feels comfortable with.
Xinhua: The Spanish way was in the first place made by Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets – all outstanding midfielders made for a passing style. Some say the German midfield does not have the same quality.
Martinez: I don’t think that is the problem. Many games, especially at a Euro tournament are very tight. Remember how difficult it was for Germany to beat a great team like Italy. Germany has always had great midfielders and still has. The German squad is full of high quality players, not only in midfield. Just think of Leroy Sane or Joshua Kimmich. Joshua played a great tournament.
Xinhua: So it is not only the system that decides games?
Martinez: The main point is that the team is behind a style and feels comfortable with it. If your game is based on counter attacks, you have to be convinced, the same when you play a zonal game. The Germans are convinced.
Xinhua: Looking at the outstanding quality of Bayern Munich’s defense, people say they must be unbeatable. How on earth can anyone score a goal against them?
Martinez: The defense is not the only part of a team, the entire team has to work together well. Mats Hummels is a player of very high quality, but at the same time we have lost other players like Medhi Benatia and Mario Goetze.
Xinhua: We talked about the Spanish way which leads us to rumors that you might leave as well and rejoin Athletic Bilbao?
Martinez: They are newspaper rumors. And reading them is how I got to know about them. For me I can say there are no plans at all to go back to Spain. I don’ t even know of any offer. I had six amazing years in Bilbao and I know I still have a lot of fans there. Bilbao is close to my hometown, but there are no thoughts of returning. I’ m not even thinking of other clubs.
Xinhua: So you feel ready for another season with Bayern?
Martinez: I feel well. It might sound funny, but I’m still waiting to see how my reacts to training and competitive matches. But I’m confident. The knee is better than ever.
Xinhua: As you said many players are still on vacation after Euro 2016, what is it like starting pre-season preparations with only half the team?
Martinez: It is not a perfect situation for a preparation. But many teams have the same problem and after all it shows how just how good the quality of our players is. We have to be patient and work every day and things will get better.
Xinhua: In the last years, Bayern Munich has tried, like every big team, to win the Champions League. Now you have a new coach, are hopes greater with him now?
Martinez: The goal of Bayern is always to win the treble meaning the national title, the cup and the Champions League. We are one of the best teams in the world. We’ve reached the semi-final in the last three years. In the first two years, we didn’t deserve to get to the final because I think Barcelona and Real Madrid were better than us, but in the third year we were better than Atletico. But that’s football. This year again we want to win the treble. I remember 2013. It was my first year here and it was amazing to win it.
Xinhua: Which team will be the biggest rival of Bayern Munich in the next Bundesliga season? Borussia Dortmund was in the last years but has lost some of its best players?
Martinez: That’s true but at the same time they’ve bought in many new good players. Of course we have to see how the “new” team does. But no matter who our rivals are, we have to fully concentrate in every competition. We’re used to that and we’re all ambitious as I said.
Xinhua: David Alaba and Jerome Boateng are great fans of the United States. Bayern Munich will tour USA from next Monday and will play three games. What do you think about a tour like that?
Martinez: I’m a fan as well. I go there nearly every summer on vacation. I like the way of life there and I’m very much looking forward to the tour. It’ll be a great experience for us as a team and our fans in the U.S.