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Zé Roberto’s dream

The veteran and the Champions League

With the friendly Bavarian greeting of Servus, Ze Roberto took a seat behind a battery of microphones and surveyed the reporters packed into Bayern’s temporary media centre at the team hotel. “We can start,” the Brazilian declared, before holding forth in fluent German for the next 20 minutes, even including a jokey aside or two. It was undoubtedly one of the wittiest news conferences given by Zé in his time with Bayern.

“I’m an old man already. At 34, a punishing training camp like this isn’t easy any more,” he offered with a grin, before turning serious for a moment: “But it’s no problem. If we keep training like this, I’ll soon recapture my form from the first half of the season.”

Freedom to roam

The gifted midfielder has been one of the undisputed stars for Munich so far this term. “I think it’s my best season since coming to Bayern,” he agreed. He has two goals apiece in the Bundesliga and the Champions League, one of those a vital equaliser at home to Olympique Lyon – a header, of all things. But what explains his superb form? “Ottmar Hitzfeld played me more defensively, but Klinsmann has me in an attacking role with freedom to roam. I’m really enjoying it.”

The oldest player in the current squad is also enjoying the daily routine at the club, especially in Dubai. “Unfortunately, we’re only here for ten days,” he said to general astonishment in the room, before supplying a characteristically Brazilian explanation: “I’d rather stay here and train than go back to Munich where it’s minus ten degrees.” However, Ze has been in Europe a long time, “and I don’t have as many problems with the weather now,” he assured his rapt audience.