Almost 24 hours on their feet, a good eleven hours on the plane and a time difference of six hours: That failed to disturb many of the members of the Bayer 04 party. Although everyone went to bed at around eleven in the evening local time many of the players and staff were wide-awake at four in the morning. Some tried to get to sleep again while others opted to make the most of the morning hours. Rudi Völler was one of the first to enter the fitness studio at the Hotel Omni Resort at around 4.30. He completed a session on the treadmill. He was joined a few minutes later by Team Liaison Manager Hans-Peter Lehnhoff.
In the summer, performance tests were carried out at the Werkstatt in Leverkusen and now, in the winter, the perennial lactate tests were held in the Florida sunshine. The first group were on the training ground at 9.45 and the rest of the players followed an hour later. Team doctor Dr Karl-Heinrich Dittmar and his team set up the step test and then it was the turn of Stefan Kießling and Co. to do circuits round the pitch till the cows come home. As in one of the mountain stages of the Tour de France, one or two of the athletes fell back at a certain point. Karim Bellarabi completed the longest distance in one group and in the other it was Julian Brandt who was the "last man running".
A first for Kevin
For many Bayer 04 players the flight to the USA is almost routine. Not only because the Werkself are in Orlando preparing for the rest of the season for the third year in succession but also because many of the players and staff regularly spend their holidays in the States. However, it is the first time Kevin Volland has made the trip over the Pond. The Germany international is in the United States for the first time. The former Hoffenheim player was unable to take the lactate test due to a muscle injury so he completed an individual session instead.
Green, green grass
The fact that the lads led by head coach Roger Schmidt have a good opportunity to prepare for the last 18 Bundesliga matches and as many appearances in the Champions League as possible is, in part, down to Hermann-Josef Meuthen. Members of the Leverkusen ground staff have been on site for two weeks bringing the turf up to tip-top condition. That meant the squad were able to practice passing and coordinated drills in the second session in the afternoon without any problems. The groundsman Meuthen already has a nickname locally. The Americans call the turf expert ‘Herman the German’ and he likes it.
The longest journey was undertaken by our striker from the far north. Joel Pohjanpalo flew from Melbourne to Sydney at nine in the morning on 2 January. At one in the afternoon he started the leg from Sydney to San Francisco – the flight lasted fourteen and a half hours. He landed in California at seven in the morning. He was then supposed to fly on to Orlando two hours later but the flight was delayed by six hours. He finally landed in Florida at ten in the evening and arrived at the team hotel 90 minutes later. Despite all that, the striker put up a good fight in the lactate test next day.
Local media interest
#B04goesUSA – has also aroused interest in the local media. The Orlando Sentinel brings regular reports on the Werkself during their stay and TV teams regularly appear at the team hotel. Head coach Roger Schmidt gave an interview to Univision in the morning and, in the afternoon, Charles Aránguiz answered questions in Spanish on the Telemundo network. National broadcasters like FOX or CNN are expected in the next few days.
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