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AUDI Cup 2011 finalists train side-by-side

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AUDI Cup 2011 finalists train side-by-side

Postby FCBayernNews » Wed Jul 27, 2011 4:40 pm

Andrés Iniesta, David Villa, Gerard Piqué, Eric Abidal, Victor Valdes and the rest of the Barcelona senior squad mixed freely with Bayern stars including Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm, Mario Gomez and Manuel Neuer, as Bayern's Säbener Strasse training facility staged a highly unusual get-together on Wednesday. No fewer than 40 stars of the international game worked out side-by-side, but they will go face-to-face in the evening at the Allianz Arena when they contest the AUDI Cup 2011 final.

Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola supervised a squad currently lacking Xavi, the injured Carles Puyol, and Copa America participants such as Lionel Messi and Dani Alves. The Champions League holders and Spanish champions, whose B-team defeated SC Internacional on penalties in the previous evening's semi-final, completed an approximately 45-minute shakedown featuring stretching exercises and passing routines.

At around the same time, Bayern were busy with their final training session prior to the AUDI Cup final. Players who featured for 60 minutes or more of the previous evening's penalty shoot-out victory over AC Milan joined the Catalan guests in a few laps of the facility. The remaining FCB stars reported to the club's fitness specialists.

Understandably enough, there was plenty of interest from both sides in goings-on on the neighbouring pitch. Franck Ribéry took to his crutches and made a beeline for France team-mate Abidal to offer a few words of welcome. Jupp Heynckes spent a lengthy period chatting with the Barcelona coaching staff, and later fell deep into conversation with Guardiola, before leading the Barca coach and his staff on a tour of the FCB Performance Center.

Mutual respect

The coaches will next meet up ahead of Wednesday evening's final. "Barcelona against Bayern is always a bit special, even as a pre-season friendly," Guardiola told FCB.tv. "I can only recommend all the fans to come to the stadium. It promises to be a fantastic match."

"Barcelona are in a class of their own," Heynckes remarked, "they're not only Champions League holders, they play the most creative football in the world at the moment." Jerome Boateng was equally appreciative: "Barcelona represent the current gold standard. These are the opponents we need right now." The AUDI Cup 2011 final is Bayern's final serious test prior to the first competitive fixture of the new season.
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