Munich - FC Bayern München's pre-season preparations kicked into overdrive on Wednesday as the club gear up to take the USA by storm. The Bundesliga champions landed at New York's Newark Airport at around 14:00 local time (20:00 CEST) as they embark on their Audi Summer Tour of the States.
Beckenbauer to visit old stomping ground
Pep Guardiola’s side, who will be in the US until 7 August, have scheduled a number of marketing and media appointments during their stay in order to bring the Bundesliga and FC Bayern closer to their ever-growing legion of ardent American supporters. The record titleholders have also lined up two friendlies against Club Deportivo Guadalajara Chivas and an MLS All-star XI.
Though executive board chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who recently described the US market as “one of the most important in the world”, was unable to board the flight to New York owing to technical problems with the US's visa processing system, FC Bayern and Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer, who saw out the twilight of his career at New York Cosmos towards the end of the 1970s, has accompanied Guardiola and Co. on their stateside tour. “Franz is by far the most recognisable face at the club,” Rummenigge said of der Kaiser recently.
Despite their many off-pitch appointments, Bayern are by no means neglecting the sporting side of things in America. Shortly after their arrival at Newark, the squad took part in their first training session of the tour at New York’s Red Bull Arena - the venue for the first of their two friendlies, against Chivas, on Thursday (kick-off 8pm local time/2am CEST). Guardiola, for one, is looking forward to the test against the Mexican outfit.
“Mexican football is very strong and we’ll have to put in a good performance,” the former FC Barcelona tactician told fcbayern.de. “Mexican teams are very comfortable on the ball, they have many small, fast and dynamic players, so we have to prepare ourselves as well as possible for this type of playing philosophy. We’re still at an early stage of our pre-season preparations and games like these are important.”
World Cup stars set to return
Bayern’s pre-season form, particularly during their recent Telekom Cup success, is likely to strike fear into the hearts of their Bundesliga rivals. Robert Lewandowski has picked up where he left off for Borussia Dortmund at the end of last season, while fellow newcomers Sebastian Rode and Juan Bernat have also impressed. Franck Ribery, meanwhile, finally appears to be returning to form following a back injury that forced him to miss the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Three stars who did feature in South America - Javi Martinez, Xherdan Shaqiri and Julian Green - have flown out with the rest of the squad, which will initially be made up of 14 first-team regulars and members of Bayern’s reserve and Under-19 sides. World Cup winners , Philipp Lahm, , Jerome Boateng Thomas Müller and , as well as semi-finalists Arjen Robben and Dante, will join their team-mates later this week.
Guardiola is therefore likely to have a full squad of players to choose from for Bayern’s second friendly of the tour, against an MLS All-star XI in Portland on 7 August. The squad are due to leave New York for Oregon this coming Saturday.