“Heads down… one… two… three!" Then the heads came up, and the stars beamed. A flash went off, and the shutters rattled. No-one kept count of how often this scene was repeated at the Säbener Strasse facility on Monday morning, but the FCB pros had to stay calm and focused right to the end of the official pre-season photo shoot.
The requirement was a total of 19 images, for sponsors and the media. The locations were the car park, the training ground and the multipurpose sports hall. Some were individual shots, some were group photos, and some were of the entire playing and coaching staff. Some of the snaps featured props, and others required the players to celebrate. No fewer than 30 photographers called for concentration and perfect facial expressions. However, after what some observers felt was a new record of just 55 minutes, the shots were in the can and the players returned to training.
“It's not very demanding, but that's enough. I'm fired up for training," said Tom Starke, who in common with the other players, swiftly and professionally delivered all that was required of him. “It's all part of the start of a new season," said Xherdan Shaqiri, familiar with the routine from his time with FC Basel. “We had a similar pre-season shoot, although it wasn't as busy."
“You get it over with quickly because it's well-organised. You quickly switch your focus back to training," reported Daniel van Buyten. Indeed, at the start of the fifth week of pre-season, the really important matter at the club was training, with Jupp Heynckes ordering his men in for two separate sessions on Monday.
The Germany internationals have now rejoined the squad, “and it’s added an enormous amount of quality," reported Starke. “You notice that everyone now understands what's at stake. Everyone spots there’s another guy staking a claim for his place, so you'll understand what it's like in training. It has to be a good thing."
This week also includes four warm-up matches. FCB visit Ingolstadt for the Paulaner Cup des Südens on Tuesday, and travel to Kaiserslautern the following evening. The weekend highlight is the LIGA total! Cup in Hamburg, where Munich play Bremen on Saturday, and either the home team or Dortmund on Sunday.
“We're coming closer and closer to the start of the season, so it's vital we start playing near-competitive matches," ventured Shaqiri. “Four matches sounds a lot," offered Starke, “but we have a big squad, and everyone is available apart from two injured players. The coach will rotate the players." Both for the cameras and on the field, every member of the senior squad has the chance to take a starring role this week.