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Build on what we have

Hummels: 'I'm unbelievably happy'

For one moment, Mats Hummels gets angry with himself. The defender’s cross was a good idea but too long and the chance to score was gone. “Concentrate, Mats!” shouted the world champion to himself, only to quickly re-find his old might. “I talk to myself a lot on the pitch and quickly tell myself off when I do something wrong,” laughs Hummels. “I’ve always done that, although I used to get hassle from my youth coaches for it. But it helps me.”

However, Hummels has not had much reason to bicker with himself in the last six months. The course for FC Bayern and especially the returning centre-back has been straightforward. “I’m unbelievably pleased and happy with how it’s gone. I think I’ve had a good start in both a sporting and personal sense, and I want to keep that going.” And he’s doing that in Doha, too, where the intensity is “obviously higher” than in normal training. Hummels continues, “I think that’s good because we want to lay the foundations here and have to build on what we have.”

Winter training is particularly important for the central defender. Hummels returned late to training in the summer after taking part in the EUROs with Germany, which meant his integration into his new, old home with new (and old) teammates was delayed somewhat. That means the defender is now enjoying the “really good conditions” even more, and it’s not just Hummels who’s doing so: “Everything is close by, there are a lot of different ways to train and recover.” And all the Bayern players are making use of that as Hummels admits, “our legs feel heavy.” Build on it, Mats!

Barely time to breathe

Even though training it taking it out of them and Hummels has been suffering a bit from jetlag after his holiday in the USA, the Germany international feels refreshed mentally. “The winter break is advantageous for us. I wouldn’t like to be playing as many games as the teams in England, for example. I can recover a lot even in the short winter break. I was on holiday for seven days and it gives you the chance to switch off and enjoy yourself,” said Hummels.

The 28-year-old is able to relax a bit during these days in Doha with a bit of a siesta between training sessions. “I need one – I’m not getting any younger,” laughs the centre-back. After the one-hour nap, it’s back onto the training pitches before having a shower, some food and “a game of cards in the evening. And then that’s our day over.” The Bayern players don’t have much time, but hopefully they’ll be ready come 20th January when they face SC Freiburg in the first competitive game of the new year.