After the tropical tranquility of their base at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, reigning champions Germany fly into Russia on Tuesday hoping the rain stays away from their isolated base outside Moscow.
Campo Bahia, the sun-drenched luxury hotel surrounded by palm trees on Brazil’s Atlantic coast and specially constructed to be their headquarters, was credited by the Germans as a key part of their 2014 success.
For their Russia 2018 campaign, the Vatutinki Hotel Spa Complex, 40 kilometres (25 miles) southwest of the Russian capital and surrounded by forest, has been selected as Germany’s World Cup haven — complete with a thick concrete wall to thwart prying eyes.
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After the tropical temperatures of Campo Bahia, which was also isolated, the Germans expect wetter climes in the sparsely populated district far from the distractions of Moscow.
“Campo Bahia was great, an oasis of calm,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said last week.
“Now we have different conditions. We hope that it does not rain all the time.
“Moaning does not work — when you start to complain, you only lose energy,” Loew said.
Germany are not flying to Russia to see the sights, “but to win the tournament,” as team director Oliver Bierhoff put it.
However, their secluded World Cup base will struggle to capture the squad’s imagination.
– ‘Vatu-what?’ –
“Vatu-what?” replied striker Mario Gomez last month when asked about his chances of making the plane to Germany’s World Cup base.
Loew had wanted to capture some of the ‘Campo Bahia’ spirit in Russia, hoping to base Germany in sun-kissed Sochi after the squad were vocal in their praise of staying in the Black Sea resort during last year’s successful Confederations Cup campaign.
However, instead of watching dolphins play in the waves of Sochi, the Germans will spend their days off in Vatutinki, with just several high-rise buildings dotting the tree-lined skyline around the team hotel.
Logistics were the reason why the German Football Federation (DFB) opted for Moscow, with Bierhoff insisting “there was no alternative”.
The players will not be distracted by Moscow with the capital a 45-minute drive away.
Germany open their World Cup against Mexico on June 17 at the stadium where they will hope to end it in the final on July 15 — the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Their next Group F game is against Sweden in Sochi on June 23 and then South Korea in Kazan on June 27.
If they progress through the tournament successfully, the Germans would play twice more in the Russian capital — in the semi-finals and final — so they want to keep travel to a minimum.
The lessons have been learnt from Euro 2016, when they were based in Evian on Lake Geneva for the finals in France, a two-hour drive from the nearest airport.
In Moscow, the Germans will be a 45-minute drive from the Luzhniki Stadium and 30 minutes from the nearest airport.
The Vatutinki is also close to the training facilities of CSKA Moscow, which they will use during the World Cup.
The players and staff will want for nothing at the hotel.
Behind that imposing concrete wall, 72 rooms will be available to the players, coach and staff, including an indoor pool with a spa, gym and regeneration area, as well as the necessary function rooms, which will be adapted to the needs of the team.
They will even have their own Yoga guru.
Munich-based Patrick Broome, who has accompanied the team at previous tournaments, will be available to ensure the team stretch properly.
“We will have optimal conditions,” promised Bierhoff.