presented by
‘Six intense days’

Squad arrive for Marbella training camp

The plane was 30 minutes late taking off, but the entire squad was on board Lufthansa flight LH 5018 when the Bayern party took off for this year’s mid-season training camp in Marbella. After ensuring that his wife and new-born second child were well and in good hands, Franck Ribéry returned to Bavaria from France on Saturday evening, ready for the journey to the south of Spain with his team-mates the following day.

“We’ll focus exclusively on the second half of the season at this training camp,” coach Ottmar Hitzfeld commented before take-off. “We have six intense days ahead of us with two or three training sessions per day,” the General continued, outlining a demanding schedule for the professionals during their week under the Andalusian sun. “We have a few weaknesses which we’re looking to eliminate.“

Taking it to the limit

Following a week of training in Munich and friendly victories over FC Augsburg (2-1) and Team China (7-2), Hitzfeld and his men now move to the next stage of their preparations for the remainder of the campaign. “We’ll boost the training load up to the limit of what’s feasible,” the coach explained, promising punishing workouts “at a higher intensity than in the first week.”

“Marbella will be a very important week for us,” observed right-back Willy Sagnol, ready to complete his comeback from a long lay-off. “We need to do a lot of work. The season lasts until May, or until June for some of us,” noted the France star. Around half the squad need to build up their fitness reserves now with an eye not only on the Bundesliga but also the European championships in the coming summer.

New attacking tactics

Apart from fitness routines, Hitzfeld is also keen to work on tactics. “We’ll learn a few tactical lessons by heart, making certain things automatic and practising them over and over again,” Hitzfeld explained, specifically identifying “use of the flanks, the defence pushing up, flexibility in midfield, and efficient movement.”

The General’s team boasts the meanest defence in the league – “just eight goals against was very, very good,” he enthused – but the coach is keen to see even greater stability at the back. At the other end of the field “we want to introduce a couple of new ideas, because we need a method of unlocking tightly-placed defences. We mustn’t lose patience, but we do need to maintain attacking pressure.“ Finally, “we could also improve our set pieces.“

No friendlies in Spain

To clear the way for truly intense training, a planned warm-up match against Spanish top flight outfit UD Almeria has been called off. “I think that’s good. We’ll spend the entire week on training, uninterrupted by a match,” Mark van Bommel commented. Another factor against the planned clash was that the 600 km round trip to Almeria could only have been covered in a bus. “Sitting on the bus for eight hours would hardly have helped us,” Hitzfeld reflected.