Antonio Pintus has some work to do to outdo himself this year. Real Madrid's physical trainer began his work with the squad in Los Angeles for what looks to be a hellish summer for the players. It will consist of 22 days of training before returning to Spain for two super cup games in Europe and Spain - against Manchester United and Barcelona. Then, just a week later, Real Madrid will start the defense of their Liga crown.
It's Pintus' job to get them in shape prior to any competitive football, however, and he is not averse to preparing properly himself. He typically runs 20 kilometres before training and has a marathoners' physique. He keeps this aerobic approach in his plans too and this was evident last summer in Montreal when players like Marcelo looked at him funny when he started to prepare the team without a football - this approach is falling to the wayside with modern trainers but not Pintus. The meticulous approach Pintus and Real Madrid take will mean they are paying attention to the temperatures and how the players respond. It is a balmy 27 degress at present but the mercury in the thermometer is set to rise next week.
As Pintus plays bad cop, Zidane played the role of the hero last Wednesday when he gave the players a full session with just the ball to offset all the running, crunches, plyometrics and weights. A treat for the squad as they try to digest the difficult workload that Pintus abides by.
This is only the first phase, however. After the Club World Cup in Decemeber (6th until the 16th), there will be more sweating and uncomfortable sensations. For a week, Pintus will break out the whistle and the stopwatch again as he gears the squad up for one last push towards April. From looking at him sideways to gaining the trust of the players, Marcelo says "the last preseason was very important for our success." With six trophies up got grabs, the Pintus Method might help Real Madrid and Zinedine Zidane do something unprecedented.