2012/13 Bundesliga top scorer Stefan Kießling has enjoyed being put through his paces in Austria
2012/13 Bundesliga top scorer Stefan Kießling has enjoyed being put through his paces in Austria

Leverkusen being worked to the bone in Austria

Zell am See/Kaprun - Cast an eye over the picturesque Salzburger Land and tucked away in the grounds of Hotel TauernSpa you'll find Bayer 04 Leverkusen hard at work in preparation for the new campaign.


"We've already had one or two hard workouts. I’m sure we'll do well here in preparing for the new season," said midfielder Lars Bender on Monday.

So it's already a case of full steam ahead for Sami Hyypiä's troops at the Zell am See/Kaprun training complex, where 2012/13 Bundesliga top scorer Stefan Kießling is likewise feeling the heat. "It was a long and tiring day," he told fans via Facebook yesterday. "Two training sessions with shooting and moves, some sprints and quick runs, eleven-a-side and a circuit with twelve stops followed by a video session and a team meeting."

That's quite the workout by anyone's standards, but it's those extra hours that head coach Hyypiä is hoping will provide the foundation for another tilt at the top three. "The hotel is great," enthused the Finn. "But the most crucial factor for us is the perfect state of the training pitches. We can work brilliantly here."

New faces

As well as ticking all the right boxes on the physical front, Bayer's training sojourn is also giving some of the new faces in the camp the ideal opportunity to get to know their team-mates. "I'm really, really happy to be here," beamed right-back Robert Hilbert, who had spent the last three years in Turkey with Besiktas JK. "I've still got some ground to make up but I’m fit enough to get up to speed quickly."

Marquee signings Heung Min Son and Robbie Kruse are similarly making the most of the good conditions on the banks of Lake Zell. However, fellow new boy Emir Spahic's Tuesday session was cut short after the central defender picked up a knock off the ball and had to be taken back to the team hotel, as a precaution more than anything.

Jam-packed agenda

As for Wednesday's itinerary, a friendly encounter with Serie A side Udinese Calcio will provide the first real indicator of exactly where Kießling and Co are at following three days' hard graft in their Austria training camp. Then, it's straight back to the grindstone ahead of the new campaign.

Bayer kick things off in the DFB Cup away to minnows SV Lippstadt on 3 August, before raising their Bundesliga curtain at home to SC Freiburg seven days later. There's also that little matter of the UEFA Champions League group stage - the juiciest fruit of last term's labour - the draw for which will be made on 29 August. No wonder Hyypiä is working his men so hard.

Christopher Mayer-Lodge