The joys of the winter break

Over 20 days to recover mid-way through the domestic season enables Bundesliga players to rest-up and travel to warmer climates, leaving the wintry German conditions behind them.

For league-leaders and defending champions, Bayern Munich, there is a 22 day hiatus between their last game against Borussia Dortmund in the cup on the 20th December, and an upcoming league fixture away to Bayer Leverkusen, when league formalities resume on the 12th January.

Training camps 

Most Bundesliga teams return to training at the beginning of January after complete detachment from the game for roughly a week and a half. The respite from the customary schedule does not end there. For Munich, training resumed in the form of a training camp in the warm climate of Doha, Qatar from 2nd January until the 7th.

Schalke and Dortmund travelled to Benidorm and Marbella respectively for their own training camps.  New surroundings and training environments add to the sense of freshness and recovery which the winter break provides. Any niggles or fatigue can be totally eradicated for many.

Not all sides leave Germany for training camps however. Indeed, Cologne, Mainz, Hertha Berlin and Borussia Monchengladbach all return to their usual training facilities at the start of January.

The flexibility is for the management of each team to decide as they deem necessary. Hannover play a single friendly versus Paderborn without travelling away for a training camp, while Wolfsburg play two friendlies against St Pauli and Dynamo Dresden in the space of two days. This is on top of a training camp in Marbella from the 2nd until the 7th of January.

Hannover and Augsburg decide to return to training sooner than other sides, as they re-familiarise themselves with tactics and ball skills in late December.

Meanwhile in England 

In this space of time, English Premier League sides are going hammer and tong, during an especially hectic Christmas period of fixtures. As the battle continues on English soil, Bundesliga players top up their tans and spend extended time with their families.

Four Premier League matches take place during the German break with the majority of fixtures occurring on the 23rd, 26th and 30th of December, before another round of games kicking off from New Year’s Day. This period is generally regarded as pivotal stage of the season as games come thick and fast in England.

If that is not enough, the FA Cup Third Round is also thrown into the equation as managers negotiate which players to rest and rotate when considering the risk of injury and fatigue.

Broadcasting rights mean there almost seems to be a game every day during this intense period.

With it being a World Cup year, the chance to recharge the batteries must be so important for Bundesliga players, both mentally and physically. English players in contrast are comparatively drained by the time the global tournament kicks off.

Getting away from it all 

One only has to look at the social media of Bundesliga players to notice how much the winter break is appreciated. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang shared a picture of himself riding a quad bike on the golden sands of a Dubai desert with friends. Robert Lewandowski and others posed for photos with their families, simply enjoying the festivities.

Indeed, the Polish goal scorer was able to enjoy quality time with his wife and daughter, of which 2017 was her first Christmas. Many Premier League players in contrast would have been braving the icy conditions on the training ground, with those playing in away fixtures having to travel on coaches for the Boxing Day fixtures.

For the players of the Bundesliga, the Christmas period if a time of relaxation, leaving them raring to go and refreshed when fixtures re-commence on the 12th, 13th and 14th of January.

Such a break may prove decisive for those involved in Russia come the summer.