presented by
Chance for squad players

A training camp with almost no regulars

Louis van Gaal is currently visiting Lake Garda for the very first time. “I was told it would be very nice here,” the head coach remarked. Relatives had informed him that Gardameer, as the lake is called in Dutch, was well worth seeing. “I look out of my hotel window, I see the lake and the high mountains, and I consider the huge splendour of nature – and how small I am by comparison,” Van Gaal humbly observed.

However, the FCB boss has not come to the Italian Lake District merely to admire the wonderful scenery. Van Gaal’s task is to prepare his team for the new season, but it is an almost impossible one. He is still without the 13 players who featured at the World Cup, while Daniel van Buyten has remained in Munich prior to the birth of his first child, and David Alaba is playing for Austria at the U-19 European championships

Just seven outfield players from the senior squad are present and available to train at the stadium in Arco. “The guys I have here now didn’t play very much last season. And normally, I’d field different players for our first league game on 20 August,” the 58-year-old told on Wednesday. However, there are no guarantees that the late-arriving internationals will be up to speed in time to give their best against Wolfsburg. Mark van Bommel und Co are not due back in Munich until 2 August. Van Gaal’s plan is to bring these players back up to the levels achieved by the players who are already deep into pre-season “step by step”. But although the coach has spoken on a number of occasions of a problematic pre-season, he remains confident: “I’m not expecting a patchy start.”