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An oasis of sport

Nerlinger: Training here is a real pleasure

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A faint mist hangs over the ASPIRE Academy for Sports Excellence in Doha. Almost inevitably, the sun is beaming brightly, but it cannot entirely cut through the sand trapped in the still air. And the sand-strewn grandstands surrounding the practice ground are another reminder that Bayern are well and truly in the desert – or more precisely, an oasis in the desert.

Slap bang in the middle of the largely inhospitable Qatari landscape, the Academy features seven shimmering green football pitches, which Germany's biggest club are using this week as they prepare for the second half of the 2011/12 campaign. Nor are the players the only men at work here: a squad of groundsmen tend to the lush turf round the clock.