Dubai - Borussia Mönchengladbach are multi-tasking in Dubai over the coming week. While preparing for the season restart in a fortnight's time, Lucien Favre's men are simultaneously acting as ambassadors for the DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga, helping further cement the ever-growing reputation of the Bundesliga throughout the greater Middle East region.
After a six-hour flight and half-hour bus journey, the Foals took up residence in The Meydan Hotel on the outskirts of the city at around 1am local time. Shortly after noon on Saturday, the players were kicking off their first session at their state-of-the-art training facility just up the road.
The United Arab Emirates, like neighbouring Qatar, is a popular winter destination among Bundesliga clubs eager to escape the cold and ice back home and prepare for the gruelling and all-deciding second season-half in more clement climes .
As far as the external conditions go, Gladbach club doctor Stefan Hertl describes Dubai's winter climate as "optimal for training. The temperature is expected to range between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius over the coming days, so it's neither too hot nor too cold. The players nonetheless have to ensure that they take enough fluid on board. They need to drink at least two to three litres over the course of the day to avoid muscular problems."
Team manager Steffen Korell confirmed that, "The hotel and training facility are both top-notch and everything seems really spot-on as far as that goes. In addition there's the great weather, which is very welcome. I think we have the perfect conditions here to prepare ourselves in the best possible way for the second half of the season."
Gladbach will test their progress with two matches against Bundesliga rivals during their stay in Dubai. First up are Hamburger SV on 9 January (16 CET) in the "7he Sevens" stadium, a game which will be shown live in 24 countries across the Middle East and north Africa by DFL broadcast partner Dubai Sports Channel. At the same venue on 11 January, again at 19:00 local time (16 CET), the Foals face Eintracht Frankfurt, while a friendly against local opposition is earmarked for Sunday, 6 January.
No injury woes
"For our coach Lucien Favre, it was important to get in games against two very good teams, which is why we're pleased to have been able to line up Bundesliga opposition in Eintracht Frankfurt and HSV. The game against a local team would be the perfect ice-breaker," said Korell.
On the personnel front, the coach has a full-strength squad at his disposal and Dr. Hertl admits he will be more than happy to see his workload remain at a minimum for the duration of the pre-season programme: "The most important thing is for everyone to return to Germany fit and healthy, and available to Lucien Favre for the first game at 1899 Hoffenheim. Last year, apart from the accidents that invariably occur in matches, and occasionally in training, we were spared injury concerns for the most part. Hopefully, that's how it will continue."