BERLIN (Reuters) – German champions Bayern Munich must hit top form when the season resumes this month after a winter break and avoid the “catastrophic consequences” that could be caused by a lack of focus, sports director Matthias Sammer said on Thursday.
Bayern, eight points clear at the top of the table and eyeing a record fourth consecutive Bundesliga title, face Juventus in the last 16 of the Champions League in February and are also still in the hunt for German Cup glory.
The Bavarians enjoyed a near-perfect first half of the season but the players cannot be complacent following the one-month winter break, Sammer said.
“We have to get into our best possible form as quickly as possible,” he told reporters at a training camp in Qatar. “This has to be our message today.
“Of the first 10 games in all competitions seven are away and we are playing opponents such as Juventus, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund. Even one percent of wrong thinking could have catastrophic consequences at this level.
“Concentration must be 100 percent and the head must be clear.”
Sammer is pleased with the way the club have dealt with the planned change of coach at the end of the season when Spaniard Pep Guardiola will give way to Italian Carlo Ancelotti.
The decision to stand down from Guardiola, who wants to move to the English Premier League but has yet to decide on his new club, and the deal with Ancelotti was announced at the same time, nipping any media speculation about his possible successor in the bud.
“We closed that vacuum,” Sammer said before adding that Bayern could now focus on winning silverware.
He played down expectations of another treble-winning season, saying everything would have to fall into place to allow that to happen.
“We have to win the treble again after 2013? Saying things like that is nonsense,” Sammer said. “You do not win the Champions League, it comes to you if you have earned it and that happens if you have the right momentum.
“We have to set the foundations for that here in Doha.”
Bayern’s first game back in the Bundesliga will be a trip to Hamburg SV on Jan. 22.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Tony Jimenez)