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Hoffenheim build-up

Robben: I’m ready, willing and able

Pep Guardiola supervised his men in a training session lasting almost two hours on Thursday. The warm-up was followed by sprints, ‘rondo’ ball retention exercises and tactical drills, with high-octane five-a-sides on reduced-sized playing areas to round off the workout. Even that wasn’t enough for Arjen Robben, who stayed out after the session to work on his free-kicks. The Dutchman is clearly raring to go. “I’m looking forward to going for it again this season and enjoying my football,” Robben told reporters, “I just want to be an important part of the team.”

The conclusion to last season was painful for Arjen. After a superb run with 17 goals in the Bundesliga and two in the Champions League, the 31-year-old was condemned to the role of spectator in the do-or-die fixtures at the end of the campaign due to torn stomach muscles and a calf problem. But he is fully fit again now and more motivated than ever. “We need to set off on a winning streak right away,” demanded the winger, who returned to the starting line-up for the Supercup meeting with Wolfsburg and the Bundesliga Matchday 1 clash with Hamburg.

Wary of Hoffenheim

Saturday afternoon’s trip to Hoffenheim will be “tricky,” the Netherlands international warned: “They never just pull everyone back and play on the break, they come at you and put you under pressure. We’ll need to watch ourselves.” The wide player feels the answer is to start well: “We have to show we’re up for it. We need the right body language and passion every time we take to the field this season.”

That will be essential if FCB are to claim a record-breaking fourth straight league title. “We’d go down in history. It would be special and you’d have it with you for ever,” commented Robben, whose main hope at this stage is that he and his team-mates avoid serious injury this term. “You need the whole squad to win trophies. It also makes for incredibly high standards in daily training, where we push each other to new levels.” That much, to anyone privileged enough to watch, is evident.