If you ever needed a reminder that football has changed in the 21st century, it was provided by the news that Germany manager Joachim Loew has just named a 26-man squad for two days of marketing activities later this month.
The team doesn't have a match in that time, but it will be doing plenty of media work during the two-day get-together on January 20-21.
Per the Associated Press (via the Star Tribune):
The players will assemble in Munich on Monday for two "marketing" days that will include shoots for sponsors and similar activities.
But Loew also wants to use the time to get his players into a World Cup mood.
Despite the collection of footballers not being together for any actual football, it could be a clue as to how Germany might line up when they announce their World Cup squad later in the year.
After all, why invite players with no hope of playing in the tournament?
Loew added in quotes from the same report that he will be using the opportunity to speak personally to his players and make the most of having them in one place.
It would appear it is an opportunity for players plying their trade all over Europe to do a little team bonding before the World Cup.
"For us all, there is nothing greater than a World Cup in Brazil and we just can't wait for it to start," Loew said.
The German Football Association (DFB) revealed the line-up, with Arsenal trio Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski missing out because of club commitments, but Chelsea's Andre Schurrle included:
Goalkeepers: Rene Adler (Hamburger SV), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Roman Weidenfeller (Borussia Dortmund), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover)
Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Benedikt Howedes (Schalke), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Marcel Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund), Marcell Jansen (Hamburger SV), Heiko Westermann (Hamburger SV)
Midfielders: Lars Bender (Bayer Leverkusen), Sidney Sam (Bayer Leverkusen), Sven Bender (Borussia Dortmund), Ilkay Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Julian Draxler (Schalke), Mario Goetze (Bayern Munich), Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Andre Schurrle (Chelsea)