Summary

  • Leverkusen heading to Orlando for third consecutive winter training camp.
  • Participation in Florida Cup on the agenda.
  • Leno excited to get back into action after festive break.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen set off on Tuesday for the warmer climes of Florida, where they will begin their preparations for the second half of the Bundesliga season for a third year running.

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Orlando is the tried, tested and trusted location for Die Werkself to kick off their year a fortnight since the ball stopped rolling in the Bundesliga for a winter break which, if it were up to Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno, would not go on for so long.

Leno admits he mostly had football on his mind throughout the festivities. © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA

"I spent some time off with my family, including Christmas. Then I took a trip with my girlfriend to Dubai and soaked up some sun rays, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't happy that football is getting back underway," Leno told bundesliga.com prior to departure for the Sunshine State.

Once across the Atlantic, Leno and Co. can expect some gruelling work to shake off any excess pounds gained over the festive period and trim them up for a double-barrel assault on glory in 2016.

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"America is always really cool. Everything's a bit bigger, everything's a bit more spectacular and I think we have a good mid-season schedule ahead of us."

In addition to making up ground in the Bundesliga as quickly as possible, Leverkusen also have a last-16 UEFA Champions League tie with Club Atletico de Madrid to look forward to, and nine days in Florida is the ideal way to sharpen the focus on the coming challenges. 

"I think things worked out really well the last two years," said Leno. "Hopefully it will have the same effect again this year because we really need the points. America is always really cool. Everything's a bit bigger, everything's a bit more spectacular and I think we have a good mid-season schedule ahead of us, this training camp in particular. But the most important thing is our work on the pitch."

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Watch: Leverkusen are heading stateside for the Florida Cup 2017:

It is not going to be just work, work, work, though, with the Leverkusen crew given the necessary down time to balance of a heavy workload which includes participation in the Florida Cup with games against Argentina's Estudiantes de la Plata and Brazil's Atletico Mineiro

One date in the diary is Friday 6 January, when the team will take in the Orlando Magic basketball game against Houston Rockets. "I really enjoy basketball," Leno said. "It's hard to keep up to date with all the latest results, but we were able to take in a game last season and it's always cool to watch a game of basketball.

"The show in and around the game is always cool, which is why I'm looking forward to that," said Leno, who will hoping the show will go on when Leverkusen return to Germany with a packed agenda to look forward to, after an idyllic preparation stateside.

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