Created on 12-02-2009 at 00:00 AM
Snowflakes filled the outside air at the Säbener Strasse on Thursday afternoon, but indoors, in the warmth of the performance centre massage area, the heat was on in a number of ways. Physios Fredi Binder, Stephan Weickert, Gerry Hoffmann and Gianni Bianchi literally had their hands full kneading and smoothing the tensed muscles of the club's homecoming international stars.
With just two days to go until the top-of-the-table Bundesliga clash away to Hertha Berlin, ten players returned uninjured from representative duty with their various countries. Head coach Jürgen Klinsmann was obliged to wait a little longer for just one man, Landon Donovan. "Landon won't be back until Friday," the boss informed fcbayern.de. The USA goal-getter had by far the longest flight of any of the club's internationals, "but he'll definitely make the squad for Berlin," Klinsmann confirmed.
While Donovan continued his journey back to Munich, the remaining internationals completed a training programme centred on regeneration. Not that the exercises were gentle or undemanding. Training bikes, upper body strengthening, stretching and aqua jogging were all deployed in the search for renewed freshness in time for Saturday.
International duty imposed a double dose of stress, Klinsmann pointed out. "These trips are physically demanding, but they're also mentally challenging too. It's genuinely stressful," the coach stated, highlighting prestige duels such as Argentina versus France and Brazil versus Italy. Both the body and the mind needed attention after performing at that level.
Bonus effect for Bayern
Returning to Munich on the back of a win was always a tonic. "Winning is good for your mental outlook," commented Daniel van Buyten. The defensive colossus also profited from an appearance for his country in another way, by gaining match practice. "You can't pick up that rhythm in training, you only get it from matches. The 90 minutes have done me good," reported the Belgian, who has spent most of the period since the winter break on the Bayern bench. The same situation applies to Hamit Altintop and Donovan.
Van Buyten received an unexpected but no less welcome boost after scoring both goals in his team's 2-0 victory over visiting Slovenia. "It's great for my confidence," he remarked. The Bayern players required no additional motivation prior to the meeting with Berlin, Daniel insisted: "We want to go top of the league, and that's motivation enough."