FC Schalke 04's tour of China has come to an end, as the Royal Blues headed home on Friday after a six-day stint in the world's most populous nation, which included a whistle-stop visit to Hong Kong on the last stage of the trip.
Schalke rounded off their stay in China with a final training session at the Century Lotus Stadium in Guangzhou. There, the players took part in stamina drills in sweltering humidity as temperatures climbed above 30 degrees Celsius. The large containers of ice cubes were in demand to help the stars cool off.
Schalke return to Gelsenkirchen highly satisfied with a productive visit. They looked good in the two friendlies played on Chinese soil, recording a comfortable 6-1 victory over Guangzhou R&F in their first warm-up match of the 2016/17 season.
The second game, against serial national champions Guangzhou Evergrande, ended goalless before the home team - coached by Luis Felipe Scolari, who led Brazil to the 2002 World Cup title - won the ensuing penalty shootout 5-4. "Obviously we'd have liked to have won it, and we could definitely have done so," said Leon Goretzka afterwards. "But overall it was a good start for us."
Watch: Check out Schalke's chopstick challenge below:
Away from the pitch too, the Royal Blues return home with positive memories. "It was very nice being here with so many enthusiastic fans who have supported us," said Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. "The weather was very hot and we had to get used to that, but all in all it was a very successful trip."
Schalke will continue their preparations for the forthcoming Bundesliga season next week. They have seven more warm-up games pencilled in before Matchday 1, and in August they will head to Austria for a week-long training camp. "First of all we need to have a good pre-season and only then can we start talking about our aims," concluded defender Matija Nastasic.
To recap Schalke's stay in the Far East, check out the hashtags #SchalkeInChina and #BLWorldTour on Twitter: @Bundesliga_EN.