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Delicate balancing act

World Cup heroes seek fitness and points

Thomas Müller and Bastian Schweinsteiger resumed training less than three weeks before the Bundesliga opener against VfL Wolfsburg, but the pair still ended up as match-winners. Müller scored the opening goal, and Schweinsteiger struck the stoppage-time winner. “But we’re still a few percent short of peak form,” the midfielder commented afterwards, “although I think there were times when we looked in good shape.”

Eight of the Bayern starting line-up last Friday only returned to the club at the beginning of August, as Louis van Gaal rewarded them for their efforts at the World Cup with a full three-week vacation. “I was delighted to get three weeks off. It did me the world of good,” reported Schweinsteiger, “on some occasions, we only had twelve days off.”

Scope for improvement

Naturally, the delayed return to pre-season for a host of the club’s top players was a problem for Van Gaal. However, the coach knew the importance of a proper break for the stars after a long and demanding campaign. The eleven men who were the last to return resumed the club programme on 2 August. Van Gaal devised “an accelerated training programme” for the group, designed to return them to peak fitness as soon as possible.

“Physically, it’s already pretty good,” Müller reported, “but obviously, there’s scope for it to be better.” The first top flight scorer of the new season believes the fitness which is currently lacking can be recovered “over the next two to three weeks, once we have a few games under our belts and we’re properly back into our rhythm.”