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Training camp

Stars break sweat as rain pours down

The setting was perfect and the facilities just as good as last year, but the rain bucketed down as the senior squad began the main summer training camp in Donaueschingen on Monday morning. Until next Sunday, the coaching staff will supervise the stars through up to three training sessions per day as Bayern work on the conditioning fundamentals for a successful 2007-8 campaign.

“Everything was perfect and we felt totally at home here last year. We have everything we need,” Ottmar Hitzfeld remarked after a first punishing workout on a specially laid pitch at the Öschberghof team hotel. Hitzfeld commended the “short distances, so we don’t lose too much time and can concentrate on the essentials.”

High intensity

The first session at the facility, adjacent to a splendid 27-hole golf course, threw up a number of clues as to Hitzfeld’s priorities for the period until the start of the season. The 58-year-old intends to use the time “working intensively towards progress in the technical and tactical areas,” he explained.

However, fitness basics such as power, speed and stamina also formed an integral part of the programme. “We’ll find the right blend,” the head coach commented, announcing a number of “high intensity” sessions. And on top of the efforts in the physical area, Hitzfeld mentioned a focus on communication within the squad.

Spotlight on defence

“I’ll use the time we have this week to conduct a very large number of individual conversations, as I need to get our new strategy and philosophy across to the players,” the General informed a 40-strong throng of reporters. “We want to play a 4-4-2 formation and attack down the flanks. And we want to be more solid through the middle, so we’re a lot more compact than we were last season.”

“I intend to place more emphasis on defence, with specific and focused defensive training. I believe the team that wins the league will be the best-organised team defensively, and not the team which scores the most goals,” Hitzfeld summarised. However, the signings of potent stars such as Luca Toni, Franck Ribéry and Miroslav Klose suggests the new-look side will not forgo attacking play altogether.

Vertical orientation

“We’ll place great emphasis on a vertical game,” Hitzfeld reported. “We’ll try and find our forward line as quickly as possible, and keep the ball on the ground. Finally, we’ll play as high up the field as possible, to make us even more compact. That’s what we’ll be working on intensively over the next three to four weeks.” It sounds like a great deal of work, but Hitzfeld’s men have brought deep reserves of enthusiasm and motivation with them to Donaueschingen.