"It's demanding, but it's good fun too"

Since Sunday, TSG Hoffenheim have been at their training camp in Garmisch-Partenkirchen preparing for the new season. With three intense sessions now under his belt, Ermin Bicakcic spoke about his first impressions, his holiday with Karim Bellarabi and the great displays by Andrej Kramaric and Croatia at the World Cup.

Ermin, you've now completed three sessions at your training camp in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. What's the atmosphere like?

"It's great to finally be back on the pitch again. Everyone knows what purpose the pre-season training camps serve. It's the first one of the season, it's demanding – but it's good fun too."

There are a lot of new players involved. The temperatures are high, as is the intensity. It's straight down to business on the pitch...

"Anyone who knows Julian knows that he demands a lot of his players tactically. Since we first trained, the sessions have been designed so that we can directly absorb a lot and immediately practise what we want to implement during the season. For the new players, it's all uncharted territory and certainly not easy given the intensity. But that's how it has to be."

"I couldn't resist kicking a ball on holiday"

At seven weeks, the summer break was relatively long. Did you miss playing football?

"For the first time in ages, I had a really long time off. It definitely did me good, but of course there comes a point when you have to get going again. The holiday was super, but it's also great to be on the pitch here. Even on holiday, I couldn't resist kicking a ball. I regularly had kickabouts with a few friends on the beach, it was a group made up entirely of football-lovers that went away together, so there was never going to be any other outcome."

Was it just friends and leisure-time footballers that went or were professionals there too?

"Karim Bellarabi from Bayer 04 Leverkusen was one of the people there. I gave him some banter because we qualified for the Champions League and Leverkusen didn't. But he can take it and wasn't annoyed. He took it in a sporting way and he knows that we deserved it and certainly didn't have it handed to us."

Is being involved in the Champions League a special motivation during pre-season?

"I've been around for quite a while and I already have international experience, so I'm not especially overcome by Champions League football. But it's a brilliant feeling to be involved and there's huge excitement."

"Andrej should enjoy every minute"

Your team-mate Andrej Kramaric is now enjoying the zenith of his international career and has reached the World Cup semi-final with Croatia. Have you been in touch the past few days?

"I congratulated him on his goal and we exchanged a few messages. It's obviously a huge achievement for him and the whole country. I just said to him he should enjoy every minute, whatever happens. Playing in a World Cup final would be really special for him. There's strong competition. Belgium, France and their semi-final opponents England have enormous quality – but you never know in football. I do want it to happen for him and Croatia are my secret favourites. What they've achieved so far is already an outstanding performance. And Andrej has scored a goal and played a big role in the success, so the World Cup has been brilliant for him. We'll certainly be watching the game and crossing our fingers for him."

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