No rest for Europe's finest

A domestic winter break does not mean a rest for the sides involved in the UEFA Champions League, with Dubai and Turkey hosting important training camps.

A domestic winter break does not mean a rest for the sides involved in the UEFA Champions League, with Dubai and Turkey hosting important training camps.

Inter commitments
Italian champions FC Internazionale Milano have been competing in the Dubai Cup, losing 2-1 in the final against Brazilian side SC Internacional with Luis Antonio Jiménez scoring the Nerazurri's only goal. Earlier, they beat AFC Ajax on penalties after a 2-2 draw, with Argentinian striker Julio Cruz scoring both goals, and he was pleased with his side's efforts in the Middle East. "We have worked hard and well," Cruz said. "I feel good, the whole team is in form, and this is to everyone's credit. They all kept in shape during the holidays."

Ronaldo recovering
While Inter have been competing, neighbours AC Milan have been enjoying a more relaxed time in Dubai but are approaching the end of their week's training. Ronaldo has been in action after returning from a calf injury, with coach Carlo Ancelotti saying: "He was one of fittest players here in Dubai. I expect him to do well when get back to Italy." Fellow UEFA Champions League contenders AS Roma had the longest Christmas break of all the Italian sides, returning to training on 4 January at their normal Trigoria training base in the capital.

Schalke trip
Germany's only remaining UEFA Champions League contenders FC Schalke 04 travelled to Belek in Turkey on Sunday, where they will stay until 13 January. Kevin Kuranyi joined his team-mates on Monday after recovering from gastroenteritis but has now been diagnosed with pneumonia and will not take part in training while Christian Pander continues to recuperate from a knee injury in Gelsenkirchen. While in Turkey, Schalke will play friendly games against SC Freiburg and Werder Bremen, with coach Mirko Slomka saying: "We want to continue our successful run from the end of the first half of the season." General manager Andreas Müller added: "We want to be in the Champions League next year which is why we have to do more in the league."

'Smallest details'
Fenerbahçe SK have also been in Belek, spending four days there from 1 January prior to their 0-0 Turkish Cup draw with Kayserispor in a game played in temperatures of -15C in Kayseri. Fenerbahçe will return to Antalya again to continue their preparations, with general manager Volkan Ballı saying: "During our stay here, our players' sleep, training and nutrition order are important for us. Once everyone returns to Istanbul we cannot control them. They should have proper rest and eat properly. The smallest details are crucial for success."

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