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Training camp concludes

Guardiola 'impressed' by his players

Pep Guardiola was in his element. He gestured, gave directions and doled out advice. The focus on Sunday morning in Doha, where the sun finally decided to come out, was on the back four. Guardiola gave his men detailed instructions as to their movements and how each player should react in certain match situations. Following the tenth squad training session at the Volkswagen Camp Qatar the FCB coach described himself as “happy” and delivered a positive summary at the end of a hard-working week: “I’m really impressed with the way the players have trained.”

It was clear to all observers that the team has laid down firm tactical foundations over the last six months. Guardiola has used the spell in Qatar to build on that solid basis. The training drills were considerably more complex as Guardiola delves into the details. “The quality and intensity are superb and higher than last summer in Trentino,” observed Guardiola, who was so enthusiastic during the week he even lost his voice at one point. “I’m old,” he grinned, sounding only a little hoarse now.

“It’s been very intense and our legs are heavy. but that’s normal at a training camp,” Toni Kroos informed Mitchell Weiser said: “We worked a lot on the ball and there weren’t any long runs. But the short exercises take it out of you as well.“ Thomas Müller confirmed that point of view: “We’ve had a lot of mixed sessions: running with the ball, obstacle courses with lots of sprinting - and that’s often more demanding than simple running.“

Based on the effort they have invested all the players deserve to be in the team for the restart fixture away to Gladbach, said Guardiola, announcing his intention to rotate his squad even more in the second half of the season. One reason for that is the greater number of options now available to the boss, as the likes of Martinez, Götze and Thiago were sidelined for long spells before Christmas but have played a full part in Doha. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Arjen Robben “are in much better shape and almost ready to come back,” Guardiola reported.

A fantastic week

A packed programme awaits FCB for the rest of the campaign. “We’ll have a game every three days so we’ll need every player,” commented Guardiola. The Spaniard is delighted at the absence of new injuries during the training camp; there was a scare involving David Alaba on Sunday morning but the Austrian has not sustained serious damage.

Overall, Guardiola described the week in the Middle East with the training sessions, the 2-0 friendly victory over Al Merrikh, the pitches and the hotel as “fantastic.” And despite two days of rain, Pep felt the weather had been “perfect.” The squad will train again on Sunday evening before the Munich party flies to Kuwait on Monday morning for an evening friendly, with the departure for home set for the next day. “We’ve done a lot of great work and the mood is very good,” summarised Müller, “that’s no guarantee of results, but I think we’re definitely well set. We’re confident.”