Javi Martinez

Australian Four Four Two - - CONTENTS -

Pre-sea­son’s early days are glo­ri­ous for foot­ballers. As they chew the fat on per­fectly-man­i­cured train­ing pitches af­ter a sum­mer’s rest and re­lax­ation, they can look ahead with the same en­thu­si­asm as fans do. It’s the first day of school, only with­out be­ing made to stand at the front of the class and re­count what you did on your sum­mer hol­i­days. As soon as Bay­ern Mu­nich mid­fielder Javi Martinez sits down for a chat at the club’s Sabener Strasse train­ing ground, you no­tice the ex­citable tone to his voice. “It’s great to be back – I’ve re­ally recharged my bat­ter­ies,” the smil­ing Spa­niard tells FFT dur­ing an af­ter­noon break be­tween dou­ble train­ing ses­sions. “We’re a team of win­ners. We have reached the semi-fi­nals of the Cham­pi­ons League in the last three sea­sons and won it the year be­fore that. We have won four suc­ces­sive Bun­desli­gas, which is a club record, plus two Ger­man Cups. We’ve now got to con­tinue this run. “I love the Bun­desliga, be­cause it’s a re­flec­tion of the work you put in over a whole year, but the Cham­pi­ons League does carry that ex­tra ex­cite­ment on a world­wide level. We’ve fallen to the tour­na­ment win­ners, Real Madrid and Barcelona, in 2014 and 2015, and Atletico Madrid last sea­son, who were in their sec­ond fi­nal in three years. These de­feats have hurt us, but we’re us­ing those feel­ings as ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion to reach the fi­nal once again.”

Hip head­mas­ter Pep Guardi­ola may have left, but Carlo Ancelotti guar­an­tees busi­ness as usual. “Each day was a les­son with Pep, like uni­ver­sity,” says Martinez. “There’s no doubt about it: he’ll be a huge suc­cess at Man City. But from the first train­ing ses­sion, Ancelotti has been a real com­mu­ni­ca­tor. Xabi Alonso’s been talk­ing all sum­mer about what a great guy he is. You could see how well pre­pared he is from just a cou­ple of ses­sions. He leaves noth­ing to chance. “Ancelotti is all about the pos­ses­sion. We never want to lose the ball – not in train­ing, not ever.” Just as im­por­tant for Martinez is that he stays fit. “Among my big­gest goals for this year is to have an injury-free sea­son, which I’ve not been able to do for a while now,” con­fesses the 27-year-old, who rup­tured his cru­ci­ate knee lig­a­ment in Au­gust 2014. “I hope the knee cuts me a bit of slack. If I can do that, then I hope to get back into the na­tional team.”

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