Having been given a day off on Thursday, the players returned to the training ground on Friday to be put through a rigorous workout by head coach Mike Tullberg and athletics coach Alexander Ulbricht. Following several gymnastics and strength sessions, the BVB players trained – with set-pieces the primary focus. And when Luca Unbehaun became the latest player to withdraw with an injury niggle in the morning, the BVB coaching staff resorted to an extremely unusual measure.
The 25-year-old Rui Peta – a goalkeeper for fourth-tier FC Serpa, a club based in the direct proximity of the training ground at the Complexo Desportivo Fernando Mamede – was summarily dispatched to the team and put through what is probably the most last-minute trial session that manager Ingo Preuß has ever organised. Peta came across as a nice young lad and was brimming with enthusiasm after the session. "It was wonderful. I was at home and suddenly I got a call from my coach. He asked if I'd like to train with BVB today. I was totally surprised. He said they needed a goalkeeper. I didn't need to think twice and immediately made my way over."
Peta initially worked individually with the goalkeeping coach Thomas Feldhoff and Lucien Hawryluk, before taking up his position between the sticks for an 11v11 match. His conclusion? Entirely positive! "For me, it was an immense experience at a very high level. The players are outstanding, I learned a lot in a short space of time. I did a lot of work with Thomas (editor's note: Feldhoff) on my positional play in the space of a few minutes. I'll take an awful lot from this; it's something I'll never forget," said the beaming custodian in summary of his experience.
It was an abnormal situation for BVB goalkeeping coach Thomas Feldhoff too, though it was certainly a positive to have a guest joining in the session and being part of the group. Feldhoff has worked closely with the two very young BVB goalkeepers in the past few days. With Jan-Pascal Reckert recovering from illness in Dortmund, Jonas Hupe suffering from a knee problem and Eric Oelschlägel with the senior squad, 19-year-old Hawryluk and 18-year-old Unbehaun were forced to step in. The coach was still impressed by their performances, however, summarising the training camp as follows: "I've very satisfied with them. We did some very complex work, always several exercises that are interconnected. It raises your heart rate and yet you still need to be fully focused on playing football. We do a lot of repetition phases; you need to be mentally strong there and we train that."
Coach Tullberg drew a positive conclusion on the last evening in Portugal, saying. "We wanted to improve on a tactical level, i.e. within our 3-5-2 system. We started to work on that before the training camp and have continued to do so now. A lot of things worked very well in the two friendlies, especially offensively. Defensively, we still need to improve. There were some good spells too, but for example the goals we conceded were unnecessary and came out of nowhere. Overall, it's a bit frustrating that we had so many players out with illness. Many of them weren't affected too much and were only out for a couple of days, but one or two were out for slightly longer. That's obviously unfortunate, but you can still see that the lads are fit after completing some tough runs. We're therefore ready for the match against Wuppertal in a week. All in all, I'm satisfied with the training camp. We know what we still need to work on. I think that we're now more flexible. That will hopefully show itself in the second half of the season."
The Regionalliga squad will take to the pitch once more on Saturday to do some running, before heading to Lisbon at midday and subsequently boarding a flight home around midnight. The young Borussen will be given the day off on Sunday, but they will return to action on Monday for their last mid-season friendly when they take on Oberliga outfit RSV Meinerzhagen. This match will take place behind closed doors in Brackel, however. Wuppertaler SV will then travel to Stadion Rote Erde on Saturday 25 January (kick-off 14:00 CET).