Created on 18-07-2009 at 00:00 AM
“Hey Hamit, just taste the air, huh!?” beamed Hermann Gerland on encountering Hamit Alitintop in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel Essen, clapping the Turkey midfielder on the shoulder in comradely fashion. Bochum-born Gerland and Gelsenkirchen native Altintop are children of the Ruhr valley, and neighbouring Essen is just a stone’s throw from there.
Gerland and Altintop are not in Essen simply to visit their region of birth. Both belong to a 40-strong Bayern party which flew in two Lear jets from the training camp in Donaueschingen to the densely-populated former industrial powerhouse in the west of the country. The real reason for the trip is FCB’s appearance in the T-Home Cup tournament at the Arena auf Schalke on Saturday and Sunday.
Rehab for Ribéry and Co
Not all the senior squad is destined to feature this weekend. Franck Ribéry (knee inflammation) and Daniel van Buyten (knee sprain) have remained at the Öschberghof hotel in the Black Forest, and will spend the weekend working with rehab coach Thomas Wilhelmi on recovering full fitness.
Furthermore, head coach Louis van Gaal has opted not to risk Bastian Schweinsteiger and Luca Toni, both of whom started the pre-season period later than their team-mates. The pair only resumed the squad programme on Thursday, and will spend the next few days in Donaueschingen with fitness coach Darcy Norman catching up on the basic conditioning work they have missed so far.
Different team for each day
At the tournament, Bayern meet Hamburger SV (kick-off 6.35 pm) on Saturday. On Sunday, Munich play either VfB Stuttgart or hosts Schalke 04 in the final or the third-place play-off. Van Gaal is likely to start with a completely different line-up on each day.
“It’s a good point in time to see where we stand as a team. I’m sure we’ll see two interesting games,” commented director of sport Christian Nerlinger. The highlights of both games, to be played over a reduced duration of 30 minutes per half, will be shown on FCB.tv from late evening on both days. The Bayern party is scheduled to return to Donaueschingen on Sunday night.