Epiphany was a day of magic for the Werkself this year. After two busy training sessions, head coach Roger Schmidt and his players went to watch the NBA match between Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets at the Amway Center. The hosts lost 93-100 to the visitors from Texas. The appearance of goalkeeper Bernd Leno was almost more important than the action on the court for the Bayer 04 pros. Leno took part in a half-time game with shots from the 3-point and centre lines. All the teams competing in the Florida Cup provided one player and they were divided up into two teams to play each other. Our number one took three shots but sadly failed to score any points. Leno: “I was close every time. It was a cool experience in spite of that.”
Hakan on Instagram
That also applied to the rest of the Werkself squad who clearly enjoyed the NBA match. They cheered on their team-mate at half-time with chants of ‘Le-no, Le-no, Le-no’, and took in the atmosphere of the show typical of American sports. Kevin Kampl, Karim Bellarabi and Hakan Calhanoglu were so thrilled by the event that they bought Orlando Magic shirts after the game as a memento. Exclusive insights into the trip to the basketball game are available on the Bayer 04 Instagram site. Hakan Calhanoglu posted images and videos on the Werkself channel. Well worth a watch.
Circuit training and positional play
Before the team headed off to Downtown Orlando in the evening the players had to complete two tough training sessions. They were split into two groups with one doing circuit training and the other focusing on positional play. Kevin Kampl was worn out by the end. “After two intensive training sessions yesterday we had two shorter but much tougher ones yesterday.” The squad put in a very good shift and endeavoured to put the coach’s instructions into practice. “We want to rediscover our strengths. Above all, pressing the ball well and playing on the break quickly after winning possession.”
Roger Schmidt almost has the whole squad available. Karim Bellarabi is already back in full training with Kevin Volland and Lars Bender well down the road to recovery after injury. There are no other injury worries at the moment. The head coach is happy about that. “They are three of our top players. Their return to the team is very important,” said the 49-year-old at the press conference between the two training sessions.
Change in the weather
The Leverkusen players and staff can hardly complain about the weather in Orlando so far. After arriving in rain the sun has put in more regular appearances. Lars Bender and Co. were able to enjoy temperatures of over 20 degrees on Thursday and Friday. That is set to end at the weekend. Rain is forecast for Saturday and temperatures are set to drop by up to ten degrees on Sunday. Clearly not comparable with Germany but a slight surprise for the group after two fine days. The weather is predicted to improve on Monday.
You can keep up-to-date with events in Florida round-the-clock via our hashtag#B04goesUSA. Just log on to Twitter,Facebook,Instagram and Snapchat (@bayer04snaps). Information on the Werkself training camp is available here in German, English and Spanish: >> http://www.bayer04.de/goesUSA <<.
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