Record Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich's preparations for the 2017/18 campaign have begun in earnest. - © © imago
Record Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich's preparations for the 2017/18 campaign have begun in earnest. - © © imago

Champions Bayern Munich back in business after summer break

Defending Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich began preparations for the 2017/18 season on Saturday.

After routine medical tests in the morning, head coach Carlo Ancelotti put seven seven star names - resplendent in the club's new away strip - through their paces in front of a sizable crowd made up of roughly 2,000 enthusiastic spectators.

"We're not starting with everyone but that's normal," said Ancelotti following a spirited run-out with Juan Bernat, Kingsley Coman, Mats Hummels, Javi Martinez, Thomas Müller, Franck Ribery and first-team newcomers Marco Friedl and Christian Früchtl. "I'm looking forward to welcoming the rest of the guys."

Boasting a short-term list of absentees that reads likes a who is who of world football megastars, Ancelotti has every reason to be excited.

David Alaba, Douglas Costa, Robert Lewandowski, Rafinha, Arjen Robben, Thiago and summer signing Corentin Tolisso start training on 10 July; Joshua Kimmich, Renato Sanches, Arturo Vidal, new recruits Sebastian Rudy and Niklas Süle and freshly crowned UEFA U-21 champion Serge Gnabry will link up with the team at the end of the month; and Jerome Boateng and Manuel Neuer are currently working on their fitness behind the scenes.

"This could well be the squad we start the new campaign with," Ancelotti admitted. "There are a lot of rumours, but I think the market is a little crazy at the moment and Bayern are not a crazy club. If further options arise, the club are in a position to act, but I'm happy with the squad. We've recruited four good players. They will all improve the squad."

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Ancelotti reserved particular praise for French midfielder Tolisso. The 22-year-old, who enjoyed four seasons in Ligue 1 with Lyon, has joined Bayern on a five-year deal and is viewed as a tailor-made long-term replacement for retired pass master Xabi Alonso.

"Tolisso is a really good midfielder," Ancelotti said. "He's still young, he did well in Lyon, but I think with us he can improve more. He's going to complete our midfield. I think he has a good profile to replace a player like Alonso."

Watch: Xabi Alonso and Philipp Lahm bid Bayern farewell

Providing further support for Bayern's habitual pursuit of betterment, Willy Sagnol is back at the club as Ancelotti's right-hand man. The Frenchman enjoyed two stints with the record German champions as a player, and did not think twice about returning to the Bavarian capital in a coaching capacity.

"It didn't take long for me to say 'yes'," the 40-year-old recalled. "Bayern are a lot bigger now, but the culture remains the same. I'm going to enjoy every day here."

Working alongside one of the best coaches and some of the most gifted players in world football at conceivably the most driven club in the game, Sagnol will not be disappointed.

Six weeks after getting their hands on a record 26th Bundesliga title, Bayern are back in the hunt for more.

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