Thomas Müller

CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP via Getty Images

Borussia Dortmund hurting after heavy loss in Munich

Leave a comment

BERLIN (AP) Borussia Dortmund is hurting again after another heavy Bundesliga defeat in Munich.

Dortmund lost 4-0 in the “der Klassiker” against rival Bayern Munich on Saturday, being fortunate not to concede more goals.

Dortmund’s lackluster performance has been criticized following sporting director Michael Zorc’s call for a “men’s soccer” type of performance in the buildup for the game. Instead, Dortmund delivered what Kicker magazine called “scaredy-cat soccer.”

“A lot of our players just weren’t there today,” Dortmund coach Lucien Favre said. “That’s the biggest disappointment.”

Zorc was even more critical of the performance.

“That wasn’t football at all, to be honest,” he said. “Bayern were on top and better in every respect. Bayern completely took over after 15 minutes and we were second-best at everything. That’s why Bayern also deserved to win by this score.”

It was Dortmund’s fifth consecutive heavy defeat in Munich. It lost 5-0 in April, 6-0 last year, 4-1 in 2017 and 5-1 in 2015. In its last six games in Munich, Dortmund has been outscored 26-3.

“It was beautiful that the talk before the game was of men’s football,” said Bayern forward Thomas Muller, who set up two goals. “As I’m a bit older now, 30, I know that it gives you a bit extra inspiration. The way I see it, that’s why we are German champions seven times in a row. It’s always wonderful when the Dortmunders come to Munich and we play like we did today.”

Bayern appeared to be in crisis after firing coach Niko Kovac following the team’ 5-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt – its heaviest league defeat in over 10 years.

But Kovac’s dismissal seems to have come as a relief to some players, and interim coach Hansi Flick has now overseen two wins from two competitive games, with no goals conceded. Bayern reached the last 16 of the Champions League with a 2-0 win over Olympiakos on Wednesday.

Bayern’s will to win on Saturday contrasted sharply with Dortmund’s, which will be under increased pressure after it appeared to have turned a corner following a series of questionable results.

[ MORE: Premier League Club Power Rankings ]

Dortmund had strung together three consecutive wins – over league leader Borussia Monchengladbach in the German Cup, previously unbeaten Wolfsburg in the league, and Inter Milan in the Champions League, when the team displayed great morale to come back from two goals down and win 3-2.

But there was none of that in Munich on Saturday, and Favre and his superiors are left wondering how to consistently get the best from the talented but fallible team.

“We expected a lot from this game,” Zorc said. “Then we delivered what is basically a non-performance. I’m disappointed. You can’t even say that it was just a lack of challenges. We were also bad when we had the ball, we gave it away and simply made it too easy for Bayern. That was a huge disappointment.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Ciaran Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

Report: Bayern Munich contacts Eriksen eyeing January move

Getty Images
Leave a comment

According to reports in Denmark, Bayern Munich has made contact with Christian Eriksen‘s representatives about a potential move to the Bavarian giants.

Eriksen’s contract at Tottenham expires at the end of this season, leaving him to sign a pre-contract agreement as soon as the calendar turns to 2020. And yet, a report by SPORT1 claims that Bayern could even potentially make a move for the 27-year-old in January, looking to convince Spurs to part ways early in order not to lose the Danish star for nothing.

Tottenham has been extremely poor this season, falling three times already in Premier League play plus a loss to lowly Colchester United in the EFL Cup and an embarrassing 7-2 defeat to Bayern in Champions League play. Eriksen himself has not performed up to standards, recording just a goal and an assist so far in league competition.

Still, he has been nothing short of a critical player for Spurs during his seven-year career with the club, arriving from Ajax for $15 million in 2013. He has collected 67 goals in 288 total appearances for the club, including 50 league goals in 214 appearances.

The SPORT1 report says that Eriksen is open to the move, and could slide right into contention for a starting role with the club. He would be in competition with Thomas Muller and Philippe Coutinho for the main creative role. Bayern suffered its first league defeat of the season before the international break, falling to Hoffenheim in a game that saw Coutinho garner renewed criticism for a poor performance reminiscent of his disastrous Barcelona tenure. With Muller also rumored to be considering a departure this coming summer, Eriksen could be a critical player for the 29-time German champions.

Should Bayern fail to convince Spurs to sell Eriksen this winter, they could still work with the player to sign a pre-contract agreement for the summer.

Muller ‘angry’ after being dropped by Germany

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Thomas Muller has spoken out for the first time since it was announced that Germany manager Jogi Low would drop Muller, Mats Hummels, and Jerome Boateng from selection in 2019 as part of a “new start for the German national team.”

Low came under fire after Germany was bounced from its group in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and it seems he is making drastic changes to kickstart the country’s push towards Euro 2020.

In an Instagram video, Muller has spoken out against the decision, saying, “The more I think about it, the more the way it was done, makes me angry.”

Muller explains that he is under the impression that Low’s decision was not about his play on the field, but his presence in the locker room. “The coach’s sudden decision obviously left me puzzled,” the Bayern Munich striker said. “A coach must make sporting decisions, no problem, I do not have a problem with that. But it’s mostly the character of the decision that I don’t understand. Mats, Jerome and I are still able to play at the highest level.”

The 29-year-old was also not satisfied with the process which the German national team took to publicly announce the decision. “The press releases of the German football federation and its president [Reinhard Grindel], prepared in advance, were from my point of view in bad taste and showed a lack of consideration.”

Muller is not the only one to speak publicly against the decision. Bayern Munich president Karl-Heinz Rumminedge explained his issue with the announcement, deeming it problematic for other reasons. “We consider the timing and circumstances of the announcement, both to the players and public, as questionable,” said Rummenigge in a joint statement with Bayern sport director Hasan Salihamidzic. “The last international match of the German national team took place on 19 November 2018 – three and a half months ago.”

Boateng also shared his disappointment with the decision, although his prepared statement was not as harsh or heartfelt as Muller’s more personal video. “Low told me in a straightforward conversation today that I will not continue to be a part of the Germany team because he wants to offer the stage to young players and give the team a new face,” Boateng wrote on Twitter. “I personally am convinced that I can still play at the highest level and I will show that in future. … I’d have wished for a different type of farewell for us.”

Back on Tuesday when the decision was announced, Low explained he hoped to use this moment to push his younger players into a more feature role on and off the field. We want to give the team a new look. I am convinced that this is the right step,” Low said. “The youngsters coming through will have the room they need to grow. Now it’s up to them to take on responsibility.”

Muller has made exactly 100 appearances for the German national team, scoring 38 goals including five in the 2014 World Cup as the team rode to victory in Brazil. He scored once in the infamous 7-1 victory over Brazil in the semifinals of that tournament and won the Golden Boot in the 2010 World Cup with five goals as well. Muller had some duds on the international level as well, failing to register a goal in Euro 2016 which saw Germany fall to France in the semifinals, and in Euro 2012 as Germany dropped to Italy in the semis as well. He went goalless in the 2018 World Cup as Germany fell to the bottom of its group looking to defend its title.

Bayern takes swipe at Germany coach over dropped players

Photo by Matt Dunham - Pool/Getty Images
1 Comment

MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich took a swipe at Germany coach Joachim Loew on Wednesday for the manner and timing of his move to prematurely end the international careers of three of the club’s players.

Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels were all informed Tuesday that they were no longer in Loew’s plans, part of an ongoing shake-up following Germany’s woeful performance at last year’s World Cup.

[ MORE: Real-Ajax recap | Ajax reacts ]

“Basically we do not comment on the sporting decisions of the national coach, but we find the timing and circumstances of the announcement of this decision to the players and the public to be questionable,” Bayern said in a statement.

Bayern also pointed out that Germany’s last game was on Nov. 19 and “the fact the players and public were informed around three months later” before games against Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga and Liverpool in the Champions League “irritates us.”

Loew, however, is expected to name his squad for the team’s next matches in the coming days.

Bayern also paid tribute to its players’ achievements with Germany. All three helped the country win the World Cup in 2014.

More AP German soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/Bundesliga and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Germany axes World Cup winners Muller, Boateng, Hummels

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
1 Comment

BERLIN (AP) In a continuing shake-up of Germany’s national team following its woeful World Cup campaign, coach Joachim Low on Tuesday axed the experienced trio of Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels from his future plans – paving the way for a new generation of players to take over.

The decision – which caught many by surprise – represents a calculated gamble by Low, who is counting on younger players to fill the void the three Bayern Munich players will leave.

Muller scored 38 goals in 100 appearances for Germany and has been a mainstay since finishing joint-top scorer at the 2010 World Cup. Hummels and fellow central defender Boateng have 70 and 74 appearances, respectively, and formed the backbone of the team’s defense for years.

All three helped Germany win the World Cup in 2014 but now have to pay the price for the team’s botched title defense in Russia, where it was eliminated in the group stage.

“We want to give the team a new look. I am convinced that this is the right step,” Low said. “The youngsters coming through will have the room they need to grow. Now it’s up to them to take on responsibility.”

Boateng, though, said he would have liked to continue playing for Germany.

“Low told me in a straightforward conversation today that I will not continue to be a part of the Germany team because he wants to offer the stage to young players and give the team a new face,” Boateng wrote on Twitter. “I personally am convinced that I can still play at the highest level and I will show that in future. … I’d have wished for a different type of farewell for us.”

Low, who avoided being fired after the tournament in Russia, was backed by German soccer federation president Reinhard Grindel and team manager Oliver Bierhoff.

Grindel said the changes come at “the right time” and Bierhoff hailed “a new beginning for the squad.”

Grindel himself has also weathered the post-World Cup fallout, despite being heavily criticized for his handling of the media storm that was caused by midfielders Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan posing for photos in London with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before the tournament.

It led to both players being subjected to abuse from fans and Ozil’s retirement from internationals after the tournament amid accusations of racism. Ozil said he had been made a scapegoat for the World Cup debacle and was particularly scathing of Grindel for adding fuel to the fire.

The national team shake-up has also seen Low drop Sami Khedira, Sebastian Rudy and Kevin Trapp, while striker Mario Gomez retired.

The forced retirements for Muller, Hummels and Boateng mean just four players are left from the World Cup-winning side of 2014 – Toni Kroos, Manuel Neuer, Matthias Ginter and Julian Draxler. It remains to be seen if Mario Gotze or Shkodran Mustafi return.

Players like Niklas Sule, Jonathan Tah, Thilo Kehrer, Antonio Rudiger or Ginter will be expected to fill the void in defense, while Draxler, Timo Werner, Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane, Julian Brandt and Kai Havertz will shoulder the attacking responsibilities.

More surprises could come on Friday when Loew announces his squad for the upcoming friendly against Serbia on March 20 in Wolfsburg and the first European qualifier against the Netherlands in Amsterdam four days later.

More AP German soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/Bundesliga and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports