Just two days after returning from the summer training camp in northern Italy, the Bayern stars are on the road again. A Munich party of some 150 persons took off punctually at 8.15 on Sunday evening on board a Lufthansa charter jet bound for China. The plane is scheduled to touch down at around midday local time in Beijing on Monday after a ten-hour flight. Bayern will remain in the Far East until Friday and play two friendlies.
The first of these is on Tuesday 24 July, when FCB contest the Yingli Cup 2012 against local club Beijing Guo'an, who are currently third in the Chinese Super League. The second match on 26 July marks the second Audi Football Summit, in which Jupp Heynckes’ men play Wolfsburg in the southern city of Guangzhou. “The friendly matches are important for us, because they'll help us find our rhythm," commented Franck Ribéry.
Lahm and Schweinsteiger excused
The FCB delegation is headed by club president Uli Hoeneß, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, deputy chairman Karl Hopfner, board member for sport Matthias Sammer, and acting board member Andreas Jung. The group includes the club's Germany internationals, who completed the obligatory lactate tests on Sunday morning.
However, two of the Euro 2012 participants are not taking part in the tour of China. Club captain Philipp Lahm and vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger are remaining in Munich to pursue individual training programs. The squad is also missing injured duo David Alaba (stress fracture of the foot) and Rafinha (ligament), and FC Bayern II regular Patrick Weihrauch.
Boost to global profile
“We're representing German football in a country with huge potential for the future," Hoeneß commented prior to take-off, “the trip is a further step in building Bayern's global profile." In the most populous country on earth with its 1.3 billion inhabitants, football is the second favourite sport, but it is catching up fast on leading discipline basketball.
Overall, China is the fastest growing sports market in the world. Bayern's brand awareness among the population is soaring at 86 percent.