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Philipp Lahm

My day leading up to the final

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Philipp Lahm is just 26, but he’s already an old hand when it comes to crucial, do-or-die fixtures. With Bayern and with Germany, the defender has performed at the highest level, on the world’s biggest stages. But how ddoes a pro fill the anxious hours leading up to a big game? asked Philipp to talk us through his programme prior to the cup final clash with Werder Bremen.

Matchday with Philipp Lahm

“Let me say this to start with: I always sleep well before matches, whether it’s a final or just a routine Bundesliga game. I’ve never had a problem in that respect. But the day leading up to a match can seem pretty long, especially when it’s an evening kick-off like on Saturday. It tends to drag a bit until you get to about 3 or 4 in the afternoon, so you just try and pass the time as best you can and make sure your pre-match nutrition is right.

Fortunately, Louis van Gaal allows us a lie-in, usually until 10 am. It's very rare I wake up early – the fathers in the team are obviously used to a different rhythm. After getting up we have breakfast, usually at 10.30 am. The first team-talk comes after that. Then we go back to our rooms and prepare in the way which suits us best, before coming down for lunch. I would normally have an hour’s sleep in the afternoon, or maybe watch TV or a DVD. I don’t like to read at this stage, I just like a background distraction.

We eat again three hours before kick-off. I have a small portion of pasta, other like coffee and a piece of cake. We have another team talk, and then we board the bus for the stadium. There’s no particular music I listen to at this point.

I don’t have any special pre-match ritual, except that I shower before our pre-match meal. That’s where I start my personal build-up to the game, focusing totally on the match. I don’t think there’s any sense in starting earlier, or the tension would just evaporate. You can’t stay wound up for hours on end. What you are doing in the days leading up to the game is orientate yourself on the opposing team or specific players. You run a few situations through your thoughts and work out solutions.

I do have trouble getting to sleep on the night after a match, and especially after evening kick-offs in the Champions League. You’re still too busy re-running incidents from the game in your head, the memories are still too fresh, and you’re still worked up. I just need time to come down – and that can take until 2 or 3 in the morning.”