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Product of hard work

Lahm: The trophies finally came rolling in

Philipp Lahm enjoyed his Friday off at the Doha training camp because it was “relaxing, quiet and pleasant,” the Bayern captain declared. The 30-year-old took the opportunity for a round of golf and the chance to briefly switch off after the toil and labour of the club world champions’ preparations for the second half of the season.

However, that doesn’t mean Lahm is not enjoying the workouts, despite the hefty showers falling from the leaden Qatar skies before, during and after Saturday’s first session. “We have perfect conditions to prepare for the rest of the season,” he said, in the knowledge there are plenty of areas for improvement.

“You can always get better at everything,” he explained, “we play dominant football but we keep having phases where we hand our opponents the chance to get back into it. This has to stop.” And Lahm believes it can be stopped: “We have the potential to control our opponents for the full 90 minutes for several games in a row.”

Another way to improve would be more variety in tactical terms. In last Thursday’s 2–0 victory over Al-Merrikh FCB “tried out a couple of options, and maybe we’ll use them again.” For example, Pep Guardiola used a three-man backline in the second half. Warm-up matches such as the meeting with the Sudanese champions are perfect for this kind of experiment, as Lahm noted: “If we don’t try it out in friendlies, when will we?“

Naturally it is no longer an experiment to deploy Lahm in midfield, where he again played against Al-Merrikh. “I’m equally at home at right-back or in midfield,” the Germany captain said, “I enjoy rising to the challenge.”

Lahm’s immediate acclimatisation to the central midfield role has come as “no surprise” to Matthias Sammer. The board director for sport is a huge admirer of the Munich-born pro: “Philipp is already one of the greatest players in the history of German football.“

Another role beckons?

Lahm and Bayern made history themselves with the “absolutely exceptional 2013, where the trophies finally came rolling in,” said the captain, “it was all the product of hard work.” In the wake of the successful year the 30-year-old is a strong candidate for a top individual award as he is on the shortlist for the FIFA world team of the year, to be announced next Monday at the Ballon d’Or gala in Zurich. “It would be a great honour,” declared Lahm.

But which position would Philipp play in the world’s best team? Guardiola has jokingly suggested the defender could even play up front in an emergency, although the captain himself cannot quite see it: “To be honest I’m not much of a goalscorer,” he laughed, “but I’m only 30. Maybe I’ll still manage it.“