Adíos Marbella! After nine days of training in the Spanish sunshine, BVB are departing their camp on the Costa del Sol and are headed back to the Ruhr. With one week to go before the resumption of Bundesliga action, focus will now turn towards the Black & Yellows' opening match of the second round of fixtures away to FC Augsburg.
Birthday boy Axel Witsel, who turns 31 today, gave his assessment of the week's preparations at the end of the team's last session on the "La Dama de Noche" training complex: ''We've been working hard here in Marbella and have managed to give ourselves a solid foundation to build on. Now it's all about fine-tuning a few tactical aspects over the course of the coming week. If we do that, then we have a good chance of picking up three points away in Augsburg.''
Witsel and a few other players arrived at training camp still carrying knocks from before Christmas. The sessions in Marbella therefore represented an important step on the road back to full fitness in time for the return of competitive action on 18 January. Marco Reus, Thorgan Hazard, Paco Alcácer and new signing Erling Haaland were all forced to undergo individual training programmes over the course of the week; but that didn't prevent them from all playing at least 45 minutes across the two warm-up matches which took place on Saturday. ''We've won a bit of time,'' said Head Coach Lucien Favre after the second warm-up match against Mainz 05. ''It was a really positive development. We didn't expect to have all of them playing this week.''
With the exception of the 4-2 win over Feyenoord, Favre was unlikely to be one-hundred percent satisfied with the outcome of the friendly matches contested by his side. In both the 0-0 draw against Standard Liège as well as the 2-0 defeat to Mainz, Borussia lacked creativity and penetration up top. Raphael Guerreiro, for his part, felt the team were too slack defensively on occasion: ''If we want to win matches then we have to stop our opponents scoring goals.'' The BVB first-team squad now have a day's rest on Monday before preparations for the clash against Augsburg get underway in earnest.