Florida, Turkey, South Africa and beyond: Germany's footballing finest once again cast their net far and wide in search of more temperate climes in which to prepare for the second half of the season.
All but two of the 18 Bundesliga clubs undertook training camps abroad in January, with the current leading duo both pitching up on the Arabian Peninsula.
FC Bayern München once again opted for the Aspire Academy in Doha as their temporary winter headquarters. The state-of-the-art complex in the Qatari capital offered the record champions a tried-and-tested ambience in which to prepare for the assault on their second treble in three years – Bundesliga, DFB Cup and Champions League. As far as the latter goes, director of sport Matthias Sammer believes, "You don't win the Champions League – it comes to you, given the right momentum. And that's what we need to get started on here in Doha."
Bayern's closest pursuers on the domestic front, Borussia Dortmund, meanwhile took their bow in neighbouring Dubai – breaking with the recent tradition of heading for La Manga, in south-eastern Spain. “We wanted to give the team a fresh stimulus, somewhere with the perfect conditions both in terms of climate and facilities. And Dubai fit the bill,” CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke explained. Coach Thomas Tuchel and his charges were equally enamoured of their new winter base camp.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Schalke 04 found themselves in even closer proximity, albeit after heading off in completely the opposite direction. The two Champions League aspirants got down to work within a few miles of each other in Orlando, Florida: a busy schedule which, beside the training itself and the job of representing the Bundesliga at the Florida Cup (r.), also involved freshening up their respective profiles Stateside.
For Leverkusen in particular, that would prove a fruitful exercise, thanks to the presence in their ranks now of Javier Hernandez. The Mexican sharpshooter is one of football's ultimate superstars across the Americas, where interest in Bayer has been concomitantly booming since the start of the season. The club's director of marketing, Alexander Jobst, was hardly revealing any trade secrets when he observed that, "The USA is a very important market for us."
1899 Hoffenheim headed further south than anyone else, flying down to Johannesburg for the second year running. Otherwise, Turkey was once again place in the sun number one for the Bundesliga clubs. Hertha Berlin, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Werder Bremen, Hannover 96, Hamburger SV and VfB Stuttgart all set up camp in the Mediterranean coastal resort town of Belek, with promoted Darmstadt 98 bunkering down in Antalya.
1. FSV Mainz 05 and FC Augsburg stayed even closer to home, relatively speaking, stopping off in Andalusia. 1. FC Köln and FC Ingolstadt 04 meanwhile dispensed with a travel itinerary altogether, opting to keep their preparations strictly local. "The schedule's tight as it is and travelling to and from a training camp loses you two more valuable training days," FCI sporting director Thomas Linke rationalised. Cross-country skiing and ice hockey were just two of the bonus options for the Ingolstadt players after going through their moves on a frost-covered pitch in central Bavaria.