Bayern Munich's players attend a practice session during their winter training camp at the Aspire Academy of Sports Excellence in Doha, Qatar, Jan. 5, 2019. (Xinhua/Nikku)
By Oliver Trust
BERLIN, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- Bayern Munich are enjoying perfect training conditions in their camp in Doha while a carpet of deep snow envelopes the club's headquarter back in their Bavarian hometown in Germany.
The Qatar sunshine seems to increase the 2018 German champions ambitions to challenge their national rival Borussia Dortmund and develop new optimism in advance of the crucial last 16 duel against Liverpool in the Champions League on February 19th and March 13th.
"Easiness and self-confidence are back," Bayern coach Niko Kovac commented. The 47-year-old said his team is ready to challenge Dortmund in the Bundesliga and is far from having given up on the 2019 German title. "We will give Dortmund a hard nut to crack," Kovac emphasized.
The gap of six points behind Dortmund is a challenge, but not a problem that can't be solved, said Kovac. The former Croatian national coach said his side has set new goals for the second part of the season.
Liverpool's first season defeat (2-1 to Manchester City), has enforced Bayern's determination to survive the next round in the Champions League.
"We will have to invest all we have to beat them, but we will be prepared to deliver two intense games," Kovac said.
Bayern defender David Alaba said the team is dreaming of repeating the 2013 treble triumph in 2019. "We are back on track and now about our qualities. The entire team is determined to perform well and achieve new goals," the Austrian international emphasized.
The strikers Arjen Robben and Serge Gnabry and midfielder James Rodriguez returned to full training after an injury break while French Corentin Tolisso is improving.
18-year-old talent Alphonso Davies has joined the Bavarian squad from the Canadian side Vancouver Whitecaps for 14 million euros, which was what Kovac hoped for new face in his side.
Bayern are said to have made a new offer for Chelsea talent Callum Hudson-Odoi worth 33 million euros. According to media reports, the talented winger has asked for his clubs' approval to leave.
The German side has made no secret about the intention to sign French 2018 world champion Lucas Hernandez from Atletico Madrid shortly. The 22-year-old defender can count on an exit clause worth 500 million euros. Reports spoke about an agreement has been reached between both clubs, which allowed Atletico to keep Hernandez until the end of the season.
According to rumors, 2018 World Cup winner Benjamin Pavard (VfB Stuttgart) has agreed to join Bayern after this season, using an exit clause worth 35 million euros.
While Hernandez and Hudson-Odoi are expected to wear Bayern's shirt, veteran defender Rafinha seems on his way back to Brazil. The 33-year-old is said to be in final negotiations with Flamengo di Rio de Janeiro to join the club this summer.
Rafinha said his time at Bayern will most likely end in six months as his Munich contract is expiring at the end of this season.
Bayern will face TSG Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga's opener after the winter break on January 18th.