“After this session, you’ve totally forgotten your holidays,” gasped a sweat-covered and exhausted Jérôme Boateng. Sunday morning, a quarter to ten, and Bayern’s Germany internationals were officially back at the club. After the Euro 2012 participants’ three-week vacation, boss Jupp Heynckes summoned his captains Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger, plus Manuel Neuer, Holger Badstuber, Boateng, Thomas Müller, Toni Kroos and Mario Gomez to Munich Technical University for the obligatory lactate tests. They were joined by Franck Ribéry, who had already returned to the Säbener Strasse as arranged last Thursday, for Sunday’s benchmarking exercises supervised by Dr Peter Spitzenpfeil.
Despite the gruelling test sequence, in which a heart rate measurement and blood samples from the ear were taken from Lahm and Co after each increased level of running and sprinting intensity, the mood among the group was excellent. Heynckes geed on his nine Euro 2012 participants, Ribéry’s good humour shone through even during the punishing runs, and Schweinsteiger finished the last lap with a smile on his face. “There’s harmony in this group. You really look forward to seeing your team-mates again,” the vice-captain said.
“I recovered well on holiday,” continued Schweinsteiger. Team-mate Boateng, who spent his vacation in the USA and Sardinia, added: “The anticipation is slowly returning!” Lahm spoke of “a wonderful time on holiday,” but also that “after more than three weeks, it’s time we got going again at last!”
Apart from a few games of tennis, the club captain said he had basically spent his first 14 days off with his feet up. However, in the final week of his holiday, Lahm had resumed “active recovery. You don’t want to come here for the lactate test having done nothing,” he said with a grin.
Hard, gruelling labour
But it was clear that the players had kept themselves in good shape. All nine completed the programme with ease and appeared in great physical shape. Ribéry even put in a voluntary extra lap at the end. “I always give it everything, right until I’m totally done in. That's my character,” said the Frenchman, although even he admitted: “It was really hard work.”
Heynckes now has four weeks to get his team into shape for the DFB Cup trip to Jahn Regensburg, with five weeks remaining until the Bundesliga opener. “We have enough time,” argued Boateng, “the lactate test is a good start, but now I’m looking forward to one thing more than anything else: the ball.”