Created on 15-01-2008 at 00:00 AM
The sun is not shining all the time, but even in mid-January, Spanish resort Marbella has plenty to offer, including elite yachting centre and haunt of the Andalusian rich and famous Puerto Banus, a picture-postcard old town dotted with restaurants and bistros, and a wide choice of nearby golf courses.
Some of the squad will no doubt regret it, but the Bayern stars will miss out on all the region’s leisure attractions due to their packed timetable through until Saturday. The obligatory fitness tests, cancelled the previous day because of heavy rain, were duly rescheduled for Tuesday morning. Every fit man was required to complete eleven 20-metre sprints and an eight-minute run.
“All the players have improved on their previous results, which is a good sign,” Willy Sagnol reported after the punishing workout. However, there was precious little time to recuperate in an exercise involving four times four-minute games of three-a-side with just a minute’s rest in between.
However, there were no complaints, as the stars know what lies ahead in the remainder of the campaign. “We have to prove we’re the biggest club in Germany,” argued Sagnol, setting appropriately ambitious targets: “The championship is the most important trophy this term. We mustn’t end up as champions because Bremen lose two or three matches, but because we win all of ours.“
Sagnol targets Champions League
Team-mate Mark van Bommel unreservedly agreed. “The most meaningful competition is the league. It lasts 34 matches, so you have to be good all season long. We’ll worry about Europe and the German Cup after that.“ The senior twosome believe Bayern’s “very good mid-season training“ (Van Bommel) will allow them to recapture their sparkling early season form right from the off.
Sagnol, now “as happy as I was before my injury“ and his subsequent eight-month lay-off, is targeting success in the longer term too. “Winning the Champions League remains a huge goal for me,” declared the 30-year-old. As of next season, Sagnol will be the last player at the club who was also a member of the squad which triumphed in Milan in 2001. “I want to see the trophy in Munich one more time. I still have three or four years to achieve that.“
No worries about Willy
For the time being, winning a 21st domestic championship is the priority. Both Sagnol and Van Bommel feel the lack of long-term injury-related absentees at the moment is a major plus. “We can be more consistent with 22 fit players. I see no reason why we shouldn’t win the league,” Sagnol stated. Added Van Bommel: “If we play to our potential, we should win the league – and we will.“
Both players feel Sagnol will soon reclaim his regular berth in the team. “I have no concerns about Willy. If he’s fit, he’s the best right-back in the world. And he’s almost fit,” the Dutch midfielder smiled.“ Sagnol is working extremely hard on regaining 100 percent fitness: “The coach always said the reason I wasn’t playing had nothing to do with my footballing ability. It was just a question of fitness.“ That’s another plus Marbella has to offer in January.