MUNICH (AP) — An estimated 8,000 Bayern Munich fans greeted new coach Pep Guardiola with cheers and applause when he took charge of his first training session at the club on Wednesday.
Such was the interest in seeing the 42-year-old Spaniard in action, that Bayern has taken the unusual step of holding open training sessions for the first two days at its 69,000-seat stadium. Up to 25,000 supporters were expected each day.
Guardiola smiled at the warm reception, exchanged pleasantries with his coaching staff, and quickly got to work, leading simple one-touch passing routines after warm-up exercises. "We did a lot with the ball. It was fun," said Bayern attacking midfielder Thomas Mueller
Former Barcelona coach Guardiola had most of his new squad available, including the German national team members, but excluding Brazilians Dante and Luiz Gustavo as well as Spain's Javi Martinez who are at the Confederations Cup.
Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was supposed to take part in light training exercises following an operation on his foot, could only watch from the substitutes' bench. But midfielder Toni Kroos returned to training for the first time since tearing adductor muscles in his thigh while playing against Juventus in the Champions League on April 2.
Former Borussia Dortmund forward Mario Goetze remains out with a muscle injury and defender Holger Badstuber is out long term with a cruciate injury. Mario Gomez trained despite reports linking the Germany striker with a switch to Italian side Fiorentina. Gomez's contract runs to 2016, but the 27-year-old is reportedly unhappy with his role as a substitute, and Bayern has made no secret of its intention to sign Robert Lewandowski from Dortmund.
"I have to get used to the players and the opponents as soon as possible," Guardiola said at his presentation to more than 240 journalists on Monday. "I hope to maintain the level of the side from last season," he added, referring to Bayern's Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup triumphs.
Guardiola won the Champions League, Spanish league and Copa del Rey in his debut season as Barcelona coach after taking over from the club's reserve side. He led Barca to 14 titles out of a possible 19 during his four years in charge, including the Champions League in 2009 and 2011, before a one-year sabbatical from football last season.
Guardiola's first game in charge of Bayern will be against the Bayern Fanclub Wildenau on Saturday, with another friendly lined up against local side TSV Regen on Sunday. He will come face to face against his former side on July 24 when Bayern hosts Barcelona for another friendly.
Former Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld expects Guardiola "to build on and copper-fasten" the work of his predecessor, Jupp Heynckes. "He can top it by winning the Club World Cup in December. Bayern are the best team in Europe and are best-placed to strengthen that position in years to come," Hitzfeld said.