Created on 11-07-2008 at 00:00 AM
Orienteering is the only recognised sport which requires the use of a map and compass, but Martin Demichelis, Willy Sagnol and Lucio could have used those tools on Wednesday after reporting back to the radically facelifted Säbener Strasse following six weeks' absence.
"It was all a bit strange. Where's the parking lot, where are the dressing rooms?“ Lucio questioned aloud. "I've been looking for the changing rooms and the fitness area since yesterday. I still don't know where everything is,“ agreed Sagnol. And, admitted Demichelis: "I did a couple of lap of the ground and then went in search of the medical unit – but I couldn't find it.“
The former professionals' quarters was still there when the trio left the club to join up with their national squads back in May, but just seven weeks later, the same space is occupied by the performance centre. The minor orientation problems aside, the three seasoned players all found the new working environment extremely impressive.
"The holidays began a little earlier than I planned,“ Sagnol ruefully confessed following France's disappointing Euro 2008, but he and South American pair Micho and Lucio are thoroughly looking forward to the new campaign under a new coaching team.
"I'm really surprised by the new performance centre,“ the tanned and relaxed Demichelis commented. The Argentine said he was glad there would be no pre-season training camp this summer. "The first two or three weeks are vital, so it's not great if you're travelling or flying all over the place.“
Improvement on training camp
Sagnol, fresh from "a nice vacation in the south of France“, agreed with his team-mate. "This is much better than a training camp. You go home every evening, which I consider perfect.“ The trio also believe the performance centre will help motivate the squad. "It can only be a positive,“ commented Sagnol. "You perform better if you're having a good time with your team-mates,“ Lucio argued.
The Brazilian, the Argentine and the Frenchman are equally looking forward to working under the new coaching staff. Jürgen Klinsmann was "always happy, always positive,“ Lucio reported. Physical fitness was only part of the equation in modern football, the centre-half argued: "Being happy and settled mentally, that's what matters.“ Finding your way around is, in the grand scheme of things, a secondary problem.