Munich - There was a real spring in the step of the FC Bayern Munich players as the squad braved sub-zero temperatures for a typically thorough workout at the club's Säbener Straße training complex on Thursday morning.
While there were plenty of smiles and jokes to be shared between drills, there was no doubting the will and determination of this gifted set of title-chasers as they began preparations for Sunday's Matchday 19 showdown with VfB Stuttgart.
"Go on, do it for Brazil!" shrieked head coach Jupp Heynckes as Brazilian defender Dante burst across the frost-tinged pitch, having only two days ago received his first call-up to the Selecao - arguably a long time coming given the centre-back's commanding performances over the last 18 months.
Yet it's testament to a man who, coming from a side like former club Borussia Mönchengladbach that played almost exclusively on the counter, has made a seamless transition to Bayern's ball-hugging ranks, proving one of the club's most astute signings in their decorated 112-year history.
Ready for Rooney
As if playing in all 18 of Bayern's Bundesliga outings this term wasn't enough, the unmistakable defender will now have the opportunity to step out at one of football's most iconic stadiums, Wembley, and potentially square off against one of the game's most feared strikers in England's Wayne Rooney.
"I'm really pleased to have got the call [...] I'm looking forward to the prospect [of facing Rooney]," Dante told bundesliga.com. "He's a world-class striker - a high quality player. His movement is fantastic. He's got everything. You have to be right on your game against those sort of players because they can turn a game in a flash."
"Win every game"
Never one to get carried away, though, Dante has more immediate concerns. Not his maiden international call-up or incoming coach Josep Guardiola, but Sunday's Southern Derby against VfB Stuttgart. "It's going to be really tough. They have great players going forward like [Vedad] Ibisevic and [Martin] Harnik, but we've trained really hard today," he said.
"We're not thinking about what [Josep] Guardiola might think of us [...] We want to concentrate on winning the title." And on that note he fired an ominous declaration of intent to the Bundesliga's chasing pack and, more specifically, an improving Borussia Dortmund: "We're not looking at the rest of the table. We just want to win every game."
Christopher Mayer-Lodge reporting from Säbener Straße