Leogang day 9: Not just making up the numbers

With the first decent test of 1899 Hoffenheim's pre-season preparations out of the way, the only thing remaining the morning after was a lot of tired legs. That led to rather more tactics-based training schedule, much to the player's delight.

The players gathered at 09:00 to go over some tactics from the management team on the blackboard, which they would shortly put into practice on the fields. Ralf Rangnick and Marco Pezzaiuoli got involved with the players on the training pitch, interrupting their training to simulate real game situations. They had planned to go on a 60-minute cycle ride to Saalfelden shortly afterwards. As they set off - bone dry - they soon turned back round like drowned rats. As they left they encountered a huge storm that forced them to abandon their journey.

Amongst the group were several youngsters from Markus Gisdol's U23 side, still high after promotion to the Regionalliga Süd in May. The injuries and absence of many first team players allowed several of the younger players to display their talents at the training camp in Leogang. Indeed Robin Neupert, Denis Thomalla, Andreas Ludwig, Adam Jabiri, Dominik Kaiser, Marco Schäfer, Christoph Hemlein and Jens Grahl weren't just making up the numbers at the camp, they were there by right. In the training games and exercises they performed every bit as good as their older teammates. Andreas Ludwig, one of the youngsters who has already sampled some Bundesliga action, said: "It is definitely a good change for us. Here we need to work harder, be quicker and make better, sharper passes of the football."

Rang Rangnick extended the training camp invitation to the talented youngsters. Robin Neupert, along with Ludwig and Thomalla, completed the entire training camp with the first team players, and he was delighted to have the opportunity to work with the professionals: "You can learn something every day from each of the players, especially from my defensive colleagues who have a lot more experience. That is a huge benefit to our development." The training camp isn't just exhausting for the U23s, but many of Rangnick's more experienced players have commented on it being the toughest season preparation under the current coach. Ludwig commented: "Now and again we get aching legs, but the medical department here are outstanding."

Manager Markus Gisdol accompanied his players during the first days in Leogang. The budding football coach is now back in Hoffenheim and it readying his squad for the Regionalliga season opener on 7. August. "I am pleased to see these boys get their chance. It is our responsibility to educate the players, and they will learn from these experiences. They certainly earned this opportunity going off their performances during the last season. Now they need to knuckle down again with the U23s before they can make their next career steps", said Gisdol.


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