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Rehab training

Alaba sprinting, Robben back on the pitch

FCB were in for their second training session in Qatar on Thursday morning, and it was not only due to the high temperatures in the sunny Emirate that the stars broke into a sweat. Pep Guardiola had prepared a demanding programme for his troops: precise passes, movement routines, shots on goal – always combined with explosive sprints, jumps and changes of direction.

David Alaba used an adjacent pitch for hard work as he completed sprinting drills. The Austrian Player of the Year, who sustained an ankle injury seven weeks ago, will soon resume the squad programme. “David has made the most progress. He's doing specific work now,” reported sporting director Matthias Sammer.

Robben running

The other three Bavarians shaking off their injuries are making progress too. “I'm glad that Franck Ribéry and Medhi Benatia are running and working on their fitness again,” said Sammer. Both sustained muscle injuries in the Champions League match away to Zagreb in early December. The pair worked out in the weights room on Thursday.

Mario Götze was the first to sweat on the second day in Qatar. The 23-year-old, who has been sidelined since October with a groin injury, completed a running session in the morning. Subsequently he too worked out on the weights. “He’s working very productively on his fitness,” according to Sammer.

Arjen Robben is also closing in on a comeback. The Dutchman has been sidelined with a cold for the last two days but returned to the pitch on Thursday and turned in a few gentle laps. “The worst is over for him. It's a matter of one or two days now,” commented Sammer.