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Far-flung destinations

Twelve Bayern stars still on their travels

The Säbener Strasse facility was quiet on Monday, as Louis van Gaal awarded his squad a day off. In fact, the numbers benefiting from the rest day were very small, as 12 players are still with their national teams, preparing for another round of international fixtures in the early part of the week. And some of the stars have a long way to travel on this occasion.

Philipp Lahm, Miroslav Klose, Mario Gomez, Thomas Müller, Toni Kroos and Holger Badstuber are heading east on the longest away trip ever made by Germany in 110 years of international matches. The destination is Astana, some 4,000 kilometres from western Europe, where the Germans face Kazakhstan for the first time in their history.

Specially tailored programme

Following a 3-0 victory over Turkey last week, Lahm called on his team-mates to secure another win against the Kazakhs, who have yet to get off the mark in Euro 2012 qualifying. “We need to be just as focused and aggressive. If so, we can open our campaign with 12 points.” With Tuesday’s opponents in the minnows category at number 126 in the world ranking, the German media’s main preoccupation is with the circumstances surrounding the match, as it will be played on artificial turf and kicks off at 11 pm local time.

The German FA has devised a special plan to accommodate this. The medical unit has advised Lahm and Co not to switch their watches to the Astana time zone. “The schedule follows the pattern we would have had in Germany,” explained team manager Oliver Bierhoff. The players should avoid jetlag when they return home on Wednesday.

Van Buyten under pressure

Turkey are also on their way east, although not quite as far as the Germans. Hamit Altintop and his team-mates will attempt to unload their frustration at last Friday’s defeat when they meet Azerbaijan. “We’re very disappointed,” the FCB man said after the clash in Berlin, “we were hoping to send out a signal about Turkish football, but we failed.”