Boss banking on Schweinsteiger and Robben
On the second day of the Volkswagen Camp Qatar, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Arjen Robben broke sweat like the rest of their team-mates, with sprinting through the slalom and over low hurdles, and pace training against the rubber ropes. Schweinsteiger still managed a grin for the FCB.tv cameras, and Robben exchanged jokes with sports rehab specialist Thomas Wilhelmi. The mood was upbeat even away from the main training pitch at the Aspire Academy in Doha, and for a good reason too: both Schweinsteiger and Robben are making good progress.
“We have three weeks until the first match. I hope both can play in Mönchengladbach,” Pep Guardiola confidently commented after surveying the pair in the initial workouts of the New Year. “I’m hoping it’ll get a little better every day,” responded Schweinsteiger, who is on course to resume the squad programme during the stay in the Emirate.
“He’s in much, much better shape. He can run without any problem,” Guardiola reported. Some eight weeks since the FCB vice-captain underwent surgery on his right ankle, the coach described himself as “very, very satisfied.” And that is not only due to Schweinsteiger’s ever-improving fitness: “It’s personally very important to have my vice-captain here. I’m aware of his importance to this team, the whole club and German football.”
Pep’s admiration for Arjen
The midfielder has meticulously maintained his personal training programme throughout the holiday period. The same goes for Robben, who even took physiotherapist Fredi Binder with him on his winter vacation. Guardiola values his Dutch superstar extremely highly. “I'm in love with Arjen,” the coach declared in English. “In the whole of my career as player and coach I’ve maybe seen one or two players who are as professional as Arjen. He has an unbelievable mentality.“
Robben, who sustained a deep cut to the right knee in a cup tie away to Augsburg last December, is of course a phenomenally gifted footballer too. “He was playing unbelievably well before his injury,” reflected Guardiola, “I hope he makes a comeback as soon as possible and maintains his superb form.”