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Training targets

Pep: We want even more of the ball

Bayern’s world was turned on its head on Monday. The skies over Munich were blue and the sun shone, but as the FCB stars started their second training workout in Doha they were confronted with wind and rain, albeit in pleasantly mild temperatures. However, the only result of the damp conditions was to inspire the players to even greater effort.

“Quickly, quickly!” called Pep Guardiola, and his team duly responded. The head coach supervised his players in a fitness parcours, ending in shooting practice. Lahm, Müller, Ribéry and company attacked the obstacle course with such gusto that fitness coach Andreas Kornmayer was even forced to apply the brakes at one point: “You’re too fast!” he yelled.

Naturally, the players were aided by the “superb conditions” at the Volkswagen Camp Qatar, as Guardiola noted: “I’m very impressed. It’s really convenient, the training ground is right next to the hotel. Perfect!“ Guardiola knows Qatar well as it was his home for two years, “and it did occasionally rain.” But on the whole, the Spaniard continued, “the weather is a bit better here than at home. It’s very pleasant.“

The best mentality

Everything is in place for a productive training camp and the desired winning start to the second half of the season. Guardiola has no fixed priorities for the next week or so, “because we have to work on everything, our physical fitness and our tactics.” Naturally, the head coach will tailor his training plans towards his vision of the game: “We want even more control. We want even more of the ball.“ Despite the excellent results so far, Pep is not satisfied: “We have to improve as a team.”

On the plus side, the Spaniard is not concerned that his troops’ hunger for success might have diminished in the light of an outstanding 2013. “The players are very intelligent,” noted Guardiola, a believer in a healthy contest for places in the team. Furthermore, this group has yet to show signs of easing off despite previous successes. “I don’t have to tell the players to perform. That’s the best mentality.“

Despite the pleasant air temperatures, the stars were then destined to feel the bitter cold, even in Doha. It wasn’t due to a sudden outbreak of winter weather: after the first session of the day the squad plunged into a regenerative ice bath, before a break at lunchtime and in the afternoon. The intense period of mid-season preparation continues with a second squad workout in the early evening.