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Problematic pre-season

Van Gaal muses on the flip side of success

Louis van Gaal has every reason to be proud. “I had 13 players at the World Cup, and eleven in the semi-finals, more than any other club in the world,” the Bayern boss said on Wednesday. Mark van Bommel, Arjen Robben and Edson Braafheid featured in the Final, and rising star Thomas Müller finished as top scorer and best young player.

But there is a flip side to that coin. The group for training on Thursday morning included just nine outfield players and two goalkeepers from the senior squad. Martin Demichelis and Franck Ribéry are the first two World Cup hopefuls due back at the club, but not until after next week’s training camp. Van Bommel and the other ten Dutch and German players will not resume training until 2 August, just two and a half weeks before the Bundesliga restart against VfL Wolfsburg on the 20th of the month.

“I’m repeating myself, but it’s not a good pre-season,” Van Gaal said. “It’s a fact and we have to live with it.” Furthermore, of the players who are available to train, “it’s probable that only one or two might make the team for the first match,” the 58-year-old said: “It’s very tough.”

Even after the whole squad becomes available, the programme is a demanding one, with a prestige clash against runners-up Schalke 7 August in Augsburg. “I’d like to win the Supercup, but it’s practically impossible,” said van Gaal. Van Bommel and Co “won’t be fit to play 90 minutes.”

Van Gaal displeased by FIFA date

Rubbing salt into the wound, FIFA has scheduled an international matchday four days after the Supercup. “That’s nonsense," the coach complained. Van Gaal has expressed a wish for his Germany contingent to be excused duty on this occasion. “If eight Bayern players said they’d withdraw, the DFB would listen, I believe,” Van Gaal reasoned, noting that the Dutch association was considering a request from its players to cancel a friendly away to Ukraine.