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Kovac takes squad of 29 to training camp in Doha

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The Bayern players have had a bit of time to recharge their batteries during the short winter break. FCB's 12-day Christmas holiday is almost over as the club prepare to set off for their training camp in the Qatari capital Doha on 4 January. While there the record champions aim to lay the foundations for another successful second half of the season with six days of hard and intense work planned for the Munich club.

"The lads got a little programme for the days after new year so they weren't starting from scratch in Doha. It means they've already had some sort of workload," explained coach Niko Kovac, who will take 29 players with him for the training camp at the Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence. With Corentin Tolisso and James Rodriguez both travelling to continue their work towards their comebacks from injury, it means the 47-year-old will have his entire first-team squad together. As well as new signing Alphonso Davies, the contingent will be completed by youngsters such as Meritan Shabani, Wooyeong Jeong (both reserves) and Joshua Zirkzee (U19).

25 outfielders, four goalkeepers

The club has decided not to play a friendly match during the training camp this year. It means the 25 outfield players and four goalkeepers can expect a variety of different training sessions in the coming week, beginning with the first on Saturday morning (10am local time). "We want to fine-tune a lot of things in Doha, including fitness and technical-tactical elements," Kovac explained. "And we have to begin preparing for our first opponent so we can get off to a good start at Hoffenheim." FCB kick off the second half of the Bundesliga season just a week after their return from Qatar with their match in Sinsheim on Friday, 18 January at 8:30pm CET.

It's the first time in eight years that Bayern restart a league season as the chaser in the Bundesliga title race, but after five consecutive wins there is an overwhelming sense of optimism that the record champions can have their say in this season's battle for the Meisterschale. "We won't give up the title race without a fight," announced an "optimistic" Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. "We want to apply as much pressure as possible as quickly as possible," said Thomas Müller in agreement with the club chairman. The foundation for that should hopefully be laid this week in Doha.


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