Created on 18-01-2015 at 06:30 AM
A measure of the weariness induced by a punishing mid-season training camp was that a handful of the FCB stars dozed off before the plane back to Munich took off from Riyadh. After eight days in Qatar at the Aspire Academy in Doha and a long final day in Saudi Arabian metropolis Riyadh, even the birthday cake laid on by Lufthansa to mark Pep Guardiola’s birthday as the clock slipped past midnight and into Sunday morning failed to enliven the group. The head coach and all his troops were desperate for a nap on the flight home.
Bayern have completed an arduous and interesting week and a half, but 11 fitness-oriented training workouts have taken their toll. “We’ve trained really well,” Xabi Alonso assured fcbayern.de. The programme included two friendly matches, against the Qatar Stars in Doha and versus Al-Hilal in Riyadh. Guardiola’s men won both games 4-1, with David Alaba and Holger Badstuber celebrating comebacks. “It was a good test against strong opponents,” said Arjen Robben after the contest in Saudi Arabia.
Quite apart from the sessions out on the practice ground, the schedule also featured plentiful media and sponsor appointments. Robben took questions from local school kids, Manuel Neuer played penalty prize with young hopefuls, Guardiola coached a youth team, and a number of the stars met fans and signed autographs.
The Lufthansa charter jet bearing the weary FCB party finally took off at 2 am local time, landing in Munich at quarter to six following the six-hour flight. Guardiola told his men to report back to base on Monday afternoon, when there will be 11 days to go until the restart fixture away to Wolfsburg.