[PORTLAND DAILY]If Bayern Munich with its six German World Cup champions wasn't enough, the German champion arrived in Portland for Wednesday's AT&T MLS All-Star Game with Dutch World Cup star Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, the greatest Frenchman of the his generation, Robert Lewandowski, the best Polish player in the game today, and a German-American phenom in Julian Green. But the star of the Bayern show may be its Spanish coach, Pep Guardiola, who insists he is their humble servant.
"I have to adapt to my players," Guardiola says. "I can't play like I want."
He admits he has an idea about how he wants to play but adds that everything depends on what he has to work with.
"First of all, we have to talk about the skills of our players," he says. "We can't talk about the tactics without the skills of my players. That is the most important thing: to analyze their talent, their mentality and to make an agreement together so in that way it is the best for the team and for these players. I have to persuade them how is the best to play our football, but I have to adapt because I'm not here to change their mentality. I'm not here to change the culture of Bayern Munich or the German mentality and I have to learn to adapt to each other and in the same way to look forward."
Guardiola says he wasn't surprised that Germany won the World Cup, considering the core of the team had been together under Coach Joachim Loew for eight years.
"They knew each other very well," he said. "They have huge talent. Without that, you cannot win the World Cup. They also have the attitude that you fight."
He pointed to the move of Schalke 04 center back Benedikt Hoewedes to left back for the World Cup as an example of the sacrifice players make for the German team.
"Maybe they don't have the biggest names," he said, "but they are a team, which is why they won."
The one member of the MLS all-stars who has played for Guardiola is Frenchman Thierry Henry, who played two seasons for him at Barcelona before joining the New York Red Bulls after the 2010 World Cup. Henry said Guardiola's discipline and attention to detail changed Barca.
"When he arrived at Barcelona," Henry said, "he put discipline into that team, on the field and outside the field. Whatever you’re thinking of when playing against his team, he’s already thought about it a few days before. He will always be a step ahead of you in everything -- free kicks, throw-ins, whatever it is. He’s thinking way ahead of the game and he demands a lot from his players."
Henry said Guardiola was incredibly demanding.
"I remember some games where we were about 5-0 up at halftime," he said, "and he wasn’t happy. That’s him. He’s demanding a lot. The fans at Barca also demand a lot but he wants perfection from you in training, outside of the field and on the field, so you better be ready and always on your toes. That’s just the way it is."
Henry said no time was wasted -- even when players went to get a drink of water.
"If you don’t pass it well, he will tell you," he said. "In 5-on-2, we like to joke around, but with him you don’t joke around. It had to be done properly. The weight of the pass has to be proper. Everything has to be proper. That’s why he’s the boss that be became. He loves the game, too. You arrive at the training ground, he’s there at 7 in the morning and he leaves at 7 at night.’