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Pause for breath

Munich on verge of ‘three weeks of truth’

If you believe in Greek mythology, Sisyphus was arguably the first human to play with a ball – at least if one regards his punishment as sport. For daring to consider himself superior to the supreme god Zeus, Sisyphus was condemned to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only for it to escape his grasp and roll back down. The task would start all over again from the start, damning Sisyphus to an eternity of pointless labour.

The legacy of the mythological character remains in the adjective Sisyphean, used to describe frustratingly interminable activities. The Bayern groundsmen have come to a deeper understanding of the concept in recent months. Hardly have the staff completed the back-breaking task of clearing the training ground of snow and ice, Jack Frost has deposited a new layer of freezing white on the pristine green turf. It snowed in Munich yet again on Monday, but the greenkeeper and his team took a relatively relaxed view, as there was no training for the seniors on Monday or Tuesday, providing the Säbener Strasse pitch clearance crew with a welcome break.

The two days off also hand the players a chance to draw breath and put their feet up. After a gruelling week in which Bayern reached the Champions League quarter-finals and defended top spot in the Bundesliga, Louis van Gaal welcomed the absence of a midweek game. “It's good, because it means I can give the players a chance to relax,” he said. The next training session is not until Wednesday.