After a 19-day Christmas vacation, the Bayern squad reported back for mid-season training on Friday, ready for an assault on three trophies in the second half of the campaign. Some three weeks after a 2-2 draw with VfB Stuttgart signalling the midpoint of the Bundesliga programme, head coach Jürgen Klinsmann supervised a gentle workout for his senior playing staff in the performance centre at the Säbener Straße, before the party boarded a charter plane to Dubai in the evening for this year's winter training camp.
The Bayern party included new signing Landon Donovan, on loan from MLS outfit Los Angeles Galaxy until at least 15 March, and set to wear the squad number 13 in Munich. "The lad's fired up. He wants to prove himself here,“ commented Klinsmann, brimming with intent after his festive break: "It's great seeing the familiar faces again, and getting back down to work.“
Podolski to follow
The squad was not quite complete on Friday afternoon, as the club's five-strong South American contingent is travelling direct to the Persian Gulf, where Christian Lell and Tim Borowski have already established a bridgehead – the pair both spent their holidays in the Emirates. Jörg Butt and Lukas Podolski were sidelined with flu, with Podolski set to follow the rest of the players to Dubai on Monday.
The first post-Christmas shakedown, which saw the pros choose between exercise bikes, treadmills or football tennis, also took place without 18-year-old Toni Kroos, who returned from his vacation with a sprained ankle and reported to the medical unit for treatment. However, the Germany U-21 international will travel with the main party and continue his recuperation at the training camp.
The players were "in great condition“ after their well-earned holiday, reported Klinsmann, although the boss still slightly regrets the break in the playing schedule after his side's streak of 16 games without defeat. "It's actually a shame we're in the mid-season break, because we were on a roll.“ However, that has just made the former Germany coach even more determined. "It's definitely a different situation compared to pre-season, when we fell short in some areas. We're a step further on this time.“
On the plus side, ten days' training in the Dubai sun "will stimulate the players, because it's a change and a new environment.“ The first few days would be spent "laying the foundations in terms of fitness," Klinsmann advised. However, tactics would also play a role: "We'll increase the tempo in the football sessions, and then we have two friendly matches at the end, when we'll give everyone the chance to play.“