Sane Replaces Injured Mueller For Germany Against Hungary

Germany’s forward Leroy Sane puts on his exercise jersey during an MD-1 training session at the team’s base at the Adi Dassler stadium in Herzogenaurach, Germany, on June 22, 2021, on the eve of their UEFA EURO 2020 Group F football match against Hungary. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

 

 

Leroy Sane will start for Germany in Wednesday’s crunch Euro 2020 match against Hungary in Munich, replacing Thomas Mueller who is sidelined by a knee injury.

A draw in Munich would secure Germany a place in the last 16 while Hungary, who are bottom of the group, need a win to avoid elimination.

Mueller was hurt late in Saturday’s 4-2 win over holders Portugal, which put Germany’s European Championship campaign back on track.

Joachim Loew’s men sit second in the Group F table behind France.

Sane is the only change to the German line-up as the 25-year-old makes his first start of the tournament.

Loew had been expected to name midfielder Leon Goretzka for Mueller, but instead opted for Sane’s pace on the wing.

Left-back Robin Gosens, the man-of-the-match against Portugal with a goal and two assists, as well as centre-back Mats Hummels and midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, have all recovered from knocks.

Hungary coach Marco Rossi has named the same starting line-up which earned a 1-1 draw with world champions France last Saturday in Budapest.

Tensions are running high off the pitch after the city of Munich was refused permission by UEFA to light the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours in solidarity with Hungary’s LGBTIQ community.

 

Germany’s forward Thomas Mueller reacts on the pitch during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group F football match between Portugal and Germany at Allianz Arena in Munich on June 19, 2021. (Photo by Matthias Schrader / POOL / AFP)

 

UEFA and the government of Hungary have both came under a hail of criticism after Budapest’s new anti-LGBTIQ law and the football body’s refusal to light the Munich stadium.

UEFA defended its decision but added the rainbow to its logo, while Budapest praised the governing body for taking a stance against what it sees as political “provocation”.

Germany skipper Manuel Neuer will wear a rainbow-coloured captain’s armband.

Starting line-ups:

Germany (3-4-3)

Manuel Neuer (capt); Matthias Ginter, Mats Hummels, Antonio Ruediger; Joshua Kimmich, Ilkay Gundogan, Toni Kroos, Robin Gosens; Kai Havertz, Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane

Coach: Joachim Loew (GER)

Hungary (3-5-2)

Peter Gulacsi; Attila Szalai, Willi Orban, Endre Botka; Attila Fiola, Andras Schafer, Adam Nagy, Laszlo Kleinheisler, Loic Nego; Roland Sallai, Adam Szalai (capt)

Coach: Marco Rossi (ITA)

Referee: Sergei Karasev (RUS)

Mueller, Hummels Recalled By Germany For Euro 2020 Finals

 

Germany head coach Joachim Loew on Wednesday named Thomas Mueller and Mats Hummels in the 26-man provisional German squad for the Euro 2020 finals, ending the pair’s two-year exile.

Dortmund defender Hummels, 32, and Bayern Munich forward Mueller, 31, were both axed by Loew in March 2019, but the 2014 World Cup winners have been recalled on the back of strong performances for their clubs.

“Back again,” Mueller posted on Twitter underneath a picture giving the thumbs up.

Hummels also reacted on Instagram “I am glad to be back – I’m really up for the new chapter”.

Loew said he did not regret axing Mueller and Hummels two years ago to give younger players a chance in the wake of the disastrous 2018 World Cup campaign when Germany crashed out in the group stages.

However, Loew admitted recent poor results – including a thrashing by Spain and shock home loss to North Macedonia, meant “we had to rethink everything”.

Mueller and Hummels have been recalled because “in terms of leadership, they can also give the team a lot,” Loew added.

Three names will be trimmed before the final 23-man squad for the European Championship from June 11 until July 11.

Eight Bayern Munich players have been named, including captain Manuel Neuer as well as 18-year-old Jamal Musiala, who opted for Germany over England this year.

Two high-profile names missing are injured Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Marco Reus, who made himself unavailable on Tuesday after an injury-hit season.

Germany squad

Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Kevin Trapp (Eintracht Frankfurt), Bernd Leno (Arsenal/ENG)

Defenders: Antonio Ruediger (Chelsea/ENG), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Matthias Ginter (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Niklas Suele (Bayern Munich), Emre Can (Borussia Dortmund), Lukas Klostermann (RB Leipzig), Robin Gosens (Atalanta/ITA), Robin Koch (Leeds United/ENG), Christian Guenter (Freiburg), Marcel Halstenberg (RB Leipzig)

Midfield/Forwards: Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City/ENG), Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich), Kai Havertz (Chelsea/ENG), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid/ESP), Leon Goretzka (Bayern Munich), Timo Werner (Chelsea/ENG), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich), Jonas Hofmann (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Jamal Musiala (Bayern Munich), Florian Neuhaus (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Kevin Volland (Monaco/FRA)

-AFP

Thomas Mueller Tests Positive For COVID-19

Photo Credit: Bayern Munchen

 

Bayern Munich forward Thomas Mueller is set to miss out on Thursday’s Club World Cup final in Doha after testing positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday, according to German media reports.

According to Sky Sports Germany and Bild newspaper, World Cup winner Mueller tested positive after Bayern’s training session on Wednesday.

A positive test would rule the veteran striker out of Thursday’s clash with Mexican CONCACAF champions Tigres in the Qatari capital, in which European champions Bayern are aiming for a historic sixth title in 12 months.

Neither Bayern nor tournament organisers FIFA have yet confirmed the positive test.

Mueller would be the third Bayern player to contract the coronavirus in recent weeks, after positive tests for Javi Martinez and Leon Goretzka meant they were unable to travel with the rest of the squad to Qatar.

His absence would be the latest blow to Bayern’s Club World Cup campaign, after Jerome Boateng returned home to Germany on Wednesday for personal reasons amid reports that his former girlfriend had died.

-AFP

Lewandowski, Mueller Doubles Send Bayern Second With Bielefeld Win

Bayern Munich’s Polish forward Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring the 0:3 goal during the German first division Bundesliga football match between DSC Arminia Bielefeld and FC Bayern Munich at the SchuecoArena in Bielefeld, western Germany, on October 17, 2020. (Photo by WOLFGANG RATTAY / POOL / AFP) 

 

Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Mueller both scored twice as Bayern Munich banished their early-season blues with a thumping 4-1 win over Bundesliga minnows Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday after a “crazy” first half.

Treble winners Bayern started the day in mid-table following a shock defeat to Hoffenheim last month, but victory in Bielefeld was enough to propel them back up to second place.

The champions burst out of the blocks and had an early penalty appeal turned down before Mueller bundled in the opener on eight minutes.

Lewandowski doubled the lead shortly afterwards, smashing the ball in from the edge of the area after a sharp cross from Leon Goretzka.

The Poland striker linked up with Mueller to make it 3-0 just before half-time, and returned the favour after the break with a pinpoint cross to set up Mueller’s second.

“The first 45 minutes were crazy, we played really well. We knew that the first game after the international break would be really important,” Lewandowski told Sky.

Japan winger Ritsu Doan then pulled one back for Bielefeld on the break, the PSV Eindhoven loanee netting his first Bundesliga goal since moving to Germany in the summer.

Yet despite a late red card for Corentin Tolisso, Bayern were untroubled in the final stages and can now turn their attention to Wednesday’s Champions League opener against Atletico Madrid.

Hansi Flick’s side now sit level on points with third-placed Borussia Dortmund, who snatched a late 1-0 win at Hoffenheim earlier on Saturday.

– ‘Hectic schedule’ -Dortmund, who like Bayern had already lost one game this season, looked set to drop further points before Erling Haaland and Marco Reus came off the bench in the second half to breathe new life into a blunt performance.

Haaland, 20, surged forward on the break to set up Reus with a tap-in and snatch Dortmund’s first away victory over Hoffenheim in eight years.

“They’ve always made it difficult for us here in recent years. We didn’t have many good chances in the first half and we knew we needed to create more in the second half,” the goalscorer told Sky.

Haaland was initially rested after he played three times for Norway in the previous two weeks, prompting criticism of the busy international schedule.

“At Dortmund, we are used to having a lot of midweek games at this stage of the season. The schedule is a bit more hectic this year, so we have to look after ourselves,” said Reus, after slotting Haaland’s square pass into the open net to score his first goal since February.

Dortmund and Bayern now sit one point behind league leaders RB Leipzig, who held onto top spot with a 2-0 win against surprise high-fliers Augsburg.

Angelino headed Leipzig in front on the stroke of half-time to score his second goal in two games, before Yussuf Poulsen doubled the lead with a sumptuous volley on 66 minutes.

“These are the games you need to win if you want to land in the top four,” Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann told Sky.

Elsewhere, Lucas Alario’s first half header sealed a 1-0 win for Bayer Leverkusen and extended second-from-bottom Mainz’s miserable run to four defeats in four games.

Promoted side Stuttgart continued their good start to the season, as Marc-Oliver Kempf and Gonzalo Castro fired them to a 2-0 win away to Hertha Berlin, while Werder Bremen held Freiburg to a 1-1 draw in the south west.

Freiburg took the lead early on through Philipp Lienhart and had a second goal ruled out for offside before Bremen’s Niclas Fuellkrug levelled the scores from the penalty spot.

 

-AFP

‘Better Than Beating Brazil’: Mueller Steals Show From Lewandowski And Even Messi

Bayern Munich’s German forward Thomas Mueller (R) celebrates with Bayern Munich’s German midfielder Serge Gnabry after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match between Barcelona and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on August 14, 2020. (Photo by Rafael Marchante / POOL / AFP)

 

 

Record-breaking Thomas Mueller said Bayern Munich’s 8-2 thrashing of Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-final on Friday topped the 7-1 hammering Germany handed Brazil at the 2014 World Cup as he stole the limelight from Robert Lewandowski and Lionel Messi.

Man-of-the-match Mueller netted twice in Lisbon as Barcelona conceded four goals in the first-half of a Champions League game for the first time as Bayern led 4-1 at half-time.

Substitute Philippe Coutinho, on loan from Barcelona, also scored twice after the break, alongside goals from Joshua Kimmich and Lewandowski, as Barcelona suffered their heaviest defeat in Europe.

“When we (Germany) played against Brazil we were not as in control as we were tonight,” insisted Mueller who also scored in the historic World Cup semi-final.

“You can never completely turn Barcelona off, but we gave their midfield practically no room, we did what we wanted to do.”

 

Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi reacts during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match between Barcelona and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on August 14, 2020. (Photo by Manu Fernandez / POOL / AFP)

 

The 30-year-old Mueller capped an outstanding display by passing Philipp Lahm’s record to become the German with the most Champions League appearances with 113 games.

“We need to stop talking about the record, it’s just a statistic,” Mueller insisted.

“There were a lot of nicer things to say about the game.

“Our team spirit is extremely good and the main thing is we are doing what we want to do on the pitch, everyone is torturing themselves to put the work in.”

After Bayern threw down a marker to their remaining Champions League rivals, Mueller warned that nothing has been achieved yet.

 

Bayern Munich’s German forward Thomas Mueller (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match between Barcelona and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on August 14, 2020. (Photo by Manu Fernandez / POOL / AFP)

 

Up next is a semi-final against either Manchester City or Lyon.

“I am just happy we could put in a performance like that under such pressure,” he said.

“My experience is that it gets more difficult now, it starts again at 0-0 and, in a semi-final, the teams tend not to get worse, but better.

“We can go to bed with a smile and enjoy the atmosphere, but we want to stay in the tournament.”

In the build up, there had been fierce debate as to whether Lewandowski or Messi is the better player.

Barca’s nemesis

However, Mueller stole the show by underlining his status as Barcelona’s nemesis with six goals in five games against the Spanish giants.

Mueller scored against Barcelona when Bayern bowed out in the Champions League semi-finals in 2014/15.

He also netted three goals over two legs against Barcelona seven years ago when Bayern romped to a 4-0 win in Munich and 3-0 away in the semi-finals on the way to winning the 2013 Champions League title.

After creating a record 21 assists in the Bundesliga last season – many of them finished by Lewandowski – Mueller outshone the Champions League’s top-scorer in Lisbon with two superb first-half goals.

He took a return pass from Lewandowski with just four minutes gone to fire past Barca’s Germany goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.

After Bayern defender David Alaba turned the ball into his own net on seven minutes, Bayern emphatically re-established their lead by bossing the Barca midfield with goals by Ivan Perisic and Serge Gnabry.

Mueller made it 4-1 on 31 minutes when he fired in Joshua Kimmich’s low cross at the far post to leave Barcelona shell-shocked at the break.

“It was a special evening,” Mueller added, “from the result alone and the way it felt on the pitch.”

 

Bayern Munich’s German forward Thomas Mueller (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match between Barcelona and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on August 14, 2020. (Photo by Rafael Marchante / POOL / AFP)

 

His form in 2019/20 had already proved that Germany head coach Joachim Loew arguably wrote Mueller out of his plans far too soon.

Following Germany’s disastrous 2018 World Cup campaign, when the holders went out in the group stages, Mueller was unceremoniously dumped by Loew in March 2019 alongside defenders Mat Hummels and Jerome Boateng.

However, Mueller has responded and proven emphatically why former Bayern coach Niko Kovac was also wrong to start him on the bench this season.

When Kovac was sacked in November, his replacement Hansi Flick reinstated Mueller, who has been a key factor with 14 goals this season.

He has been the central cog in attack as Bayern romped to an eighth straight Bundesliga title, lifted the German Cup and remain on course to add the Champions League title.

 

-AFP

Bayern Ask Germany Coach To Recall Mueller For Euro 2020

Bayern Munich’s striker Thomas Mueller reacts during the German first division Bundesliga football match Bayern Munich vs VfL Wolfsburg on March 9, 2019 in Munich. Christof STACHE / AFP

 

Bayern Munich bosses are urging Germany head coach Joachim Loew to recall Thomas Mueller to the national team and take the in-form forward to the Euro 2020 finals.

Loew dropped a bombshell in March 2019 by axing Mueller, plus fellow 2014 World Cup winners Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels.

Loew ditched the trio to rebuild the Germany team after the debacle at the 2018 World Cup when the defending champions finished last in their group and failed to reach the knock-out stages in Russia.

“The game is not over yet,” was Mueller’s response after his dismissal last March.

He blasted Loew at the time, saying the way he was informed of the decision was “not in good style – it had nothing to do with appreciation”  after 100 appearances and 38 goals for Germany.

Loew’s squad face world champions France and reigning European champions Portugal in their group for the Euro 2020 finals.

There are calls to reinstate Mueller for March’s friendlies against Spain and Italy and the 30-year-old’s current form makes Loew’s decision hard to justify.

He has set up 12 goals in the Bundesliga this season, the most assists in Germany’s top tier, scoring four goals in Bayern’s last seven league games.

Mueller hit the net and had another goal disallowed in Saturday’s 5-0 rout of Schalke and is thriving since Hansi Flick replaced Niko Kovac as Bayern head coach in November.

“Thomas is enjoying an Indian summer, which is important for us, we need his goals and assists,” said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

“As a matter of principle, I don’t want to give Jogi Loew any advice.

“I always say if somebody plays well — and I hope that Thomas will continue to play at this top-level — then maybe there will be a rethink.”

Bayern president Herbert Hainer was more blunt.

“Every team needs a Thomas Mueller and it doesn’t matter whether that is in Munich or at the European championships,” said the 65-year-old.

Opinion polls in Germany’s top daily Bild and website Sport1 say 70 per cent of fans want Mueller in the national team at Euro 2020.

Hummels, 31, is also enjoying a spell of good form at centre back with Borussia Dortmund and there were similar calls for his return to the national side last October.

Oliver Bierhoff, the director of the German national team, hinted at the time the door was open for both Hummels and Mueller but said later there was “no discussion” about recalling Hummels for November’s final Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Regardless of the Euro 2020 finals, Hummels and Mueller could yet feature at a major tournament having been named in the preliminary squad for the Germany team to play at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

AFP

Germany’s Early Exit From World Cup ‘Huge Motivation’ – Mueller

Thomas Mueller

 

Thomas Mueller says the Germans’ shock early exit from the World Cup will provide “huge motivation” when he starts the new season with both Germany and Bayern Munich.

Mueller, 28, was one of several 2014 World Cup winners who played poorly in Russia as previous holders Germany crashed out after the group stages by finishing bottom of their pool.

Humiliating World Cup defeats to South Korea and Mexico will motivate Mueller and his team-mates in Germany’s first match of the new Nations League tournament against newly-crowned World Cup winners France in Munich on September 6.

“It’s about how we can do better,” Mueller told the Bayern Munich website.

“After going out like that, you handle the failure very badly, because no one expected it.”

Mueller was a long way from his best in Russia, as were fellow Germany stars Toni Kroos, Sami Khedira, Mats Hummels and Mesut Ozil.

Ozil announced his retirement from the national team last month amid the furore sparked by his meeting with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the eve of the World Cup, which brought Ozil’s loyalty to Germany into question.

The Arsenal midfielder, who was born in Gelsenkirchen to Turkish parents, walked away from the Germany set-up and accused the German FA of racism, which has sparked an integration debate in Germany.

Mueller was not asked about the Ozil fiasco in the Bayern interview and commented solely on Germany’s woeful performances in Russia.

The first few days at home after returning early were “not the nicest in my life,” admitted Mueller, who played at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as a raw 20-year-old, then helped Germany win the title four years later in Brazil.

“You can put your finger in the wound and look at the fact we came last in the group – that is already keeping us busy,” he added.

The new Bundesliga season kicks off on August 24.

Mueller and Bayern will be chasing a seventh straight German league title under new head coach Niko Kovac.

Bayern started a week-long training camp in Bavaria on Thursday and Mueller is looking forward to working with the new head coach.

“The next week is also getting to know each other, exchanging ideas, talking and seeing what he has in mind, how he wants to play football,” Mueller added.

AFP

Bayern Wait On Mueller For Heynckes’ Cup Final Farewell

Real Madrid’s French Coach, Zinedine Zidane                                                        JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

 

Bayern Munich’s Thomas Mueller is struggling to be fit for Saturday’s German Cup final against Eintracht Frankfurt as he is suffering from gastroenteritis.

The 28-year-old German star missed training on Thursday while winger Arjen Robben, who has a groin strain, and Joshua Kimmich both underwent fitness tests.

With one eye on next month’s World Cup, Bayern fans’ main hope for the final at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium is that Germany captain and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will make his comeback after eight months sidelined by a fractured foot.

The Berlin final will be the last game in charge for both Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes and the man who is taking his job, Frankfurt boss Niko Kovac.

Heynckes oversaw his last training session in Munich on Thursday before the team flew to Berlin and the message is clear.

“If we have to say goodbye to our coach, then we want to do that with the double,” said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

The 73-year-old Heynckes took over in October for his fourth stint as head coach when Carlo Ancelotti was fired.

Heynckes could bow out with the league and cup double after Bayern won the Bundesliga title by a massive 21 points.

“We want to put in a good performance for the fans and create another highlight,” said Heynckes, who was received the farewell by Bayern staff with a presentation at the Saebener Strasse training ground on Thursday.

He also offered a warning to Kovac, his replacement for next season.

“It is an incredibly labour-intensive, around-the-clock job,” said Heynckes, who holds the record of 1,037 German league games as a player or coach.

“Being coach at Bayern is a great opportunity – but also a huge commitment.”

However, he insists there will be no return for a fifth stint as coach.

“FC Bayern should not ask again when I’m 80, that was definitively it for me,” said Heynckes.

“I will not have withdrawal symptoms and no boredom, I have a lot of hobbies.”

Heynckes says he is looking forward to watching football as a fan alongside his wife Iris and dog Cando at the family home in Schwalmtal, near Moenchengladbach.

“That’s what makes me happy, so it’s easy for me to quit the job.”

AFP

Real Give Bayern’s Treble Dreams A Harsh Reality Check

Real Give Bayern's Treble Dreams A Harsh Reality Check
Real Madrid’s Brazilian defender Marcelo (L) shoots to score during the UEFA Champions League semi-final first-leg football match FC Bayern Munich v Real Madrid CF in Munich, southern Germany on April 25, 2018. GUENTER SCHIFFMANN / AFP

 

Thomas Mueller admits Bayern Munich’s treble dreams received a rough reality check at the hands of Real Madrid in the Champions League.

Bayern left themselves with everything to do in the second-leg in Madrid on Tuesday after losing their home semi-final 2-1 at the Allianz Arena.

Bayern have only rarely being tested by their domestic rivals this season.

“We were too naive, we had several very, very good chances and in the Bundesliga, we say ‘thank you’,” said Bayern’s captain, who squandered several opportunities himself on Wednesday.

“Perhaps the importance of the game played a role.”

Bayern wrapped up a sixth straight Bundesliga title three weeks ago and reached the German Cup final on May 19.

Yet an off-key Real managed to all-but burst Bayern’s treble dreams.

“I have rarely seen a Madrid team who allowed so many chances, that’s why we won’t give up,” said Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes.

Real inched closer to a third straight Champions League final after Marco Asensio’s winner capped their comeback win, yet Madrid were below-par by their own admission.

“Bayern were perhaps the better team, that was an average performance from us, it must be said,” conceded Real’s ex-Bayern midfielder Toni Kroos.

Nevertheless, Mueller is optimistic for the return leg.

“We won there last season,” said the Germany forward of the quarterfinal away leg last year when Bayern led 2-1 after 90 minutes to force extra time, but then conceded three goals to Ronaldo to lose 4-2 to bow out.

“Real are definitely vulnerable. We need a different killer’s mentality.”

– Injury worries –

To compound Bayern’s problems, Arjen Robben and Jerome Boateng are doubtful for the return leg after coming off injured in a frantic opening 30 minutes.

While Mueller, Franck Ribery and Robert Lewandowski failed to convert clear chances, Real snatched their opportunities with ice-cold finishing.

After Joshua Kimmich’s stunning strike for the hosts, Real drew level on 44 minutes when Marcelo conjured a goal from nothing.

Daniel Carvajal whipped in a cross and all eyes in the Bayern defence were on Real’s goal-machine Cristiano Ronaldo.

Instead, Marcelo smashed the ball into Bayern’s net with a wicked left-footed shot.

Then Rafinha, in at left-back for Bayern’s injured David Alaba, lost possession and Asensio finished the counter-attack on 57 minutes.

Real claimed their sixth win in a row against Bayern in the knock-out stages of the Champions League.

Ronaldo, who has hit 15 Champions League goals in 2017/18, failed to score for the first time in a European match this season.

A disallowed off-side effort in the second-half was all the superstar had to show. He hit five goals over two legs against Bayern in last season’s 6-3 win.

Niklas Suele, who came on for the Boateng in the first-half, said Bayern let Real off the hook.

“If we had won 5-2, Real couldn’t have complained,” said the burly centre-back.

“We didn’t take our chances up front and conceded two weak goals at the back.

“We sat in the dressing room and were down, because we were the better team.”

Real coach Zinedine Zidane says his team must heed the lessons from their Juventus scare – losing 3-1 in Madrid after routing the hosts 3-0 in Turin in the last round.

“We will have to fight in the second leg, nothing is decided, that showed in the second leg against Juventus,” said Zidane.

AFP

Mueller Starts Treble Talk As Bayern Rout Besiktas

Mueller Starts Treble Talk As Bayern Rout Besiktas
Bayern Munich’s midfielder Thomas Mueller (2ndR) and teammates celebrate after winning the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg clash against Besiktas Istanbul on February 20, 2018 in Munich. John MACDOUGALL / AFP

 

Thomas Mueller says Bayern Munich could repeat their 2013 treble after crushing 10-man Besiktas 5-0 in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 ties.

Bayern have one foot in the quarter-finals with Besiktas facing a nearly impossible task for the return leg in Istanbul on March 14.

Both Mueller and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski scored twice as Bayern ran riot in the second half in Germany.

“Everything is possible,” Mueller said when asked whether Bayern can repeat their 2013 haul of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup titles.

However head coach Jupp Heynckes, 72, who oversaw the treble five years ago, insists Bayern must do better if they want all three titles again.

“Any talk like that is the job of journalists, the Champions League is a different competition and we must improve,” said Heynckes.

“Everyone in the stadium saw that we found it hard in the first half.

“We didn’t find our rhythm and we were nervous — I don’t know my team like that.

“In the first half there wasn’t any tempo to our game, our passing was off and it allowed Besiktas to attack us more.

“The opener before the break gave us a psychological advantage and in the second half we saw a different Bayern team.

“We scored some great goals and played some good football.”

– Costly red card –

Disaster struck for Besiktas after just 16 minutes at the Allianz Arena when Croatian defender Domagoj Vida was sent off for hauling down Lewandowski as he was through on goal.

Mueller broke the deadlock just before half-time when he scored his first from close range.

The floodgates then opened after the break as Kingsley Coman struck before Mueller poached his second.

Lewandowski then scored two late goals to leave him with 29 goals in all competitions this season, as Bayern — 19 points clear in the league and through to the German Cup semi-finals — claimed their 14th straight victory.

Mueller said the introduction of veteran wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery off the bench made the difference.

“It’s been five years since all our outfield players were fit and the trainer doesn’t have it easy, but everyone who came on did a good job,” said Mueller.

“Arjen made us a bit more aggressive, Franck also did well and we need that extra bit of power from the bench.”

Robben came on when James Rodriguez limped off with a calf injury on 44 minutes.

The Dutchman was heavily involved in Mueller and Lewandowski’s second goals but was unhappy at being left out of the starting side.

– ‘Speak my mind’ –

“Of course, I was disappointed, but I don’t want to say anymore because if I speak my mind, I will end up in front of ‘Brazzo’ (Bayern’s director of sports Hasan Salihamidizic),” said Robben.

Like Ribery, Robben, who scored Bayern’s winning goal in the 2013 Champions League final is out of contract in June.

However, Heynckes sees it as a positive to have so much experience on Bayern’s bench.

“I am very pleased to have a squad like this in case of injuries and illness in the future,” he said.

“Any top player like Arjen Robben wants to play from the start, but we have so many good players.

“Anyone who signs a contract for Bayern Munich has to accept that they won’t start every game.”

Besiktas were making their debut in the knock-out stages of the Champions League and their head coach Senol Gunes said his side learned a harsh lesson.

“We won or drew all our games in the group phase, but tonight the opponent was better,” he said glumly.

“After the sending off, it became too difficult for us.

“We suffered mentally and physically, they took advantage.”

Gunes swapped striker Vagner Love for defender Dusko Tosic in the second half, but it made little difference.

“We tried to limit the damage and focus on the second half, but we couldn’t manage it,” said the Besiktas boss.

“We are an attacking team, but we had to defend and we couldn’t play our football because the opponent was too strong.”

AFP

Five Bundesliga Things You May Have Missed

 

Bayern Munich’s Polish striker Robert Lewandowski (C) celebrates after scoring a goal during the German first division Bundesliga football match Bayern Munich vs Werder Bremen in Munich, southern Germany, on January 21, 2018.    Guenter SCHIFFMANN / AFP

 

Bayern Munich finished the weekend 16 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga after Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Mueller both claimed goal-scoring milestones in Sunday’s dramatic 4-2 win over Werder Bremen, while Leverkusen’s Leon Bailey capped a dazzling display at Hoffenheim by scoring back-heeled goal.

The constant speculation about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s possible departure to Arsenal is annoying his Borussia Dortmund team-mates.

Here are five things you may have missed from the 19th round of Bundesliga matches:

Aubameyang annoys

Aubameyang was dropped for Friday’s 1-1 draw at Hertha Berlin as Dortmund confirmed they are in talks with Arsenal, with Arsenal’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis in Dortmund on Sunday according to Bild to discuss a move for last season’s Bundesliga top scorer.

The Gabon international’s team-mates are sick of the Arsenal speculation.

“It’s just creating unrest and leaves the whole team shaking their head,” said Andre Schuerrle.

“It’s not easy to turn it all off and focus on football, because off-field there is only one topic.

“It would be nice for everyone if things happen quickly.”

Dortmund reportedly want 60 million euros ($73.3m) for the want-away striker.

Bayern pair hit milestones

Lewandowski and Mueller both claimed goal-scoring milestones by netting twice in Sunday’s 4-2 romp against Werder Bremen.

Mueller now has 100 Bundesliga goals while Lewandowski has hit 94 German league goals to make him the top scoring foreigner in Bayern’s history.

“Let’s face it, I’m 28 now, so it’s about time I scored my 100th,” joked Bayern’s captain Mueller.

Mueller has four league goals this season, but Lewandowski has 17, four ahead of nearest rival Aubameyang in league’s scoring charts.

Bailey back-heel

Leon Bailey, 20, showed why Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal are reportedly chasing him with an audacious back-heel that opened the scoring in Leverkusen’s 4-1 rout of Hoffenheim.

“I knew that I was standing in front of the goal — and the goal wasn’t going to move,” said Bailey when asked about the goal, his seventh in the league this season.

“It was instinctive, it was my only chance.”

The Jamaican winger capped an impressive display with an assist for the first of Lucas Alario’s two second-half goals and was involved in the build-up to Julian Baumgartlinger’s net-busting second.

The win left Leverkusen second in the table.

“For me personally, it’s crazy what I have already achieved in a year at Leverkusen,” beamed Bailey.

Loew backs Werner

Goal-scorer Timo Werner cast a dejected figure after his RB Leipzig crashed to a shock 2-1 defeat at strugglers Freiburg.

The 21-year-old bagged his tenth league goal this season to give Leipzig the lead only to watch in horror as Freiburg scored two goals in four second-half minutes.

However, watching Germany coach Joachim Loew was delighted at the Leipzig striker’s finishing after a strong run.

“Timo clearly likes to score against Freiburg,” Germany’s World Cup-winning coach told German daily Bild as Werner claimed his ninth goal in eight games against Freiburg.

“It’s crazy having a striker like that in Germany – he is extremely important to us.”

Werner can expect a place in Loew’s World Cup squad.

Goretzka threat

The news no Schalke fan wanted to hear broke on Friday when it was confirmed Germany midfielder Leon Goretzka will play for Bayern Munich next season.

Emotions are running high in Gelsenkirchen and Schalke’s chairman Clemens Toennies issued an extraordinary threat to ban Goretzka to the stands for the rest of the season if he doesn’t play well.

“I hope he will play a second-half to the season of his life,” Toennies told Sky Sports News on Sunday.

“However, if it is better for the team, then it could also be the case that Leon Goretzka sits until the end of the season in the stands.”

Goretzka has said he wants to help Schalke win a Champions League place for next season, but was jeered in Sunday’s 1-1 draw at home to Hanover.

AFP

Bayern Wait On Mueller After Hamstring Injury

Bayern Munich’s German forward Thomas Mueller (L), Bayern Munich’s German Midfielder Joshua Kimmich (C) and Bayern Munich’s German defender Mats Hummels wait in the tunnel before the start of the German first division Bundesliga football match between Hamburg SV and FC Bayern Munich in Hamburg, northern Germany, on October 21, 2017. John MACDOUGALL / AFP

Bayern Munich is waiting to hear if stand-in captain Thomas Mueller can play in this week’s double-header against RB Leipzig after the Germany star suffered a hamstring injury.

Mueller lasted just ten minutes of Saturday’s 1-0 Bundesliga win at ten-man Hamburg.

He came off the bench at half-time, set up Corentin Tolisso’s winning goal on 52 minutes and then went off injured three minutes later.

“I have a problem with my right hamstring,” he glumly told reporters with a scan on Sunday set to reveal the injury and if the Germany forward will be sidelined.

Bayern face tough back-to-back fixtures against RB Leipzig.

They face RB away on Wednesday in the second round of the German Cup, then host Leipzig on Saturday at the Allianz Arena in a mouth-watering Bundesliga clash.

Bayern are level on 20 points with Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund, but second on goal difference, with RB Leipzig just one point behind in third.

Mueller has been Bayern’s stand-in captain since Manuel Neuer fractured his foot which will keep the Germany goalkeeper out until at least January.

“It wouldn’t be good if Thomas drops out,” admitted Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.

There was some good news for Bayern fans on Sunday as Javi Martinez returned to training for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury.

AFP