Bayern breeze past Schalke

Bayern Munich were always in control as they defeated Schalke 2-0 at the VELTINS-Arena on Saturday evening.

  • Schalke 04 0 Bayern Munich 2
  • Rodriguez scores with just 8' played
  • Lewandowski nets from the spot on 64'

Match summary

Bayern should have won this game by a larger margin after taking an early lead, but were frustrated by a determined Schalke side, who restricted their opponents to just two goals, as Robert Lewandowski sealed the three points, from the penalty spot.

Full report

It didn't take long for Bayern to threaten, with Thomas Muller blasting over a first-time shot after picking up a perfect pass from David Alaba.

Robert Lewandowski was then just unable to connect to a low, curled cross from James Rodriguez from the right-hand side, but the Colombian had no such problems minutes later as he nodded home a Joshua Kimmich corner ahead of defender Sebastian Rudy.

Schalke responded with a good passage of play, and Breel Embolo slipping in Franco Di Santo, but the striker's shot was casually collected by Bayern stopper Manuel Neuer.

Bayern though were always a threat in attack and Lewandowski so nearly set Rodriguez up for a second, although he saw his chipped effect expertly kept out by Ralf Fahrmann.

Alaba wasn't far off with a 29th minute free-kick from a long way out that skimmed the top of the crossbar. Franck Ribery was next unable to curl home towards the end of the first half after cutting in from the left hand side as the away maintained their dominance.

The away side really should have been further ahead just five minutes into the second half, but somehow Rodriguez missed a tap-in from Lewandowski's cut-back.

Schalke were by no means out of this game and Embolo went close, with 53 minutes on the clock with a header that flew just off target, from a Rudy free-kick from the left.

But if Bayern were unable to hit home from open play, then there was no doubt that Lewandowski would score from the spot after Alessando Schopf brought down Rodriguez inside the penalty area.

Alaba hit another audacious long-range free-kick that Fahrmann was forced to keep out, and after a few tactical changes from Bayern to take any potential late sting out of the game, Bayern cruised to their third successive Bundesliga win to leave Schalke on a run four league matches without a point.

Hoffenheim unable to see off Dortmund

Hoffenheim had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Borussia Dortmund despite leading the match and conceding against 10 men at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena on Saturday.
  • Hoffenheim 1 Borussia Dortmund 1
  • Joelinton scores on 44'
  • Diallo red card on 77'
  • Pulisic levels on 84'
Match summary
 
Joelinton thought his goal was enough to hand Hoffenheim the win at home, but Christian Pulisic stole in with six minutes to play to secure a draw.
 
Full report
 
Hoffenheim were on the front foot through Leonardo Bittencourt who saw an 18th minute attempt saved by Roman Burki.
 
Andrej Kramaric was next to get in a good goalscoring position for the hosts, but had his shot from outside the box blocked before Joshua Brenet did well to pick up Oliver Baumann, but he was unable to force a shot through Dortmund's backline.
 
Hoffenheim continued to press, and Kramaric and Steven Zuber were both wide. 
 
Signs though were there that Dortmund were starting to allow their opponents too much room, and after Joelinton came within inches of heading a Nico Schulz cross on target, the same player hit home with a fierce drive that found the bottom left corner of the Dortmund net, with 44 minute played.
 
Having capped the first half with a goal, Julian Nagelsmann's side continued where they left off after the break, with Bittencourt forcing Burki into a good early save.
 
Dortmund though were determined to get back into the tie but when a rare chance was converted, the decision was ruled out through VAR.
 
The near miss appeared to increase the combative nature of the game, with Joelinton trying his luck from range ahead of a missed chance at the other end from Shinji Kagawa on 55 minutes.
 
Burki kept out Joelinton minutes later as an Ermin Bicakcic header from very close range flew just over the target.
 
Hoffenheim were sure to rue these missed chance, and while Kagawa and Axel Witsel were both close to an equaliser, it looked like not being their day, especially after being reduced to 10 men when Abdou Diallo was dismissed on 75 minutes for a foul on Kramaric.
 
Marco Reus and Thomas Delaney both threatened as Dortmund refused to give up though, with their never-say-die attitude rewarded as Christian Pulisic connected to an 84th minute Reus free-kick to steer home for the all-important equaliser.
 
Both sides had chances to win it at the death, with Adam Szalai and Nico Schulz both going close for Hoffenheim, who ultimately had to settle for just a point.

Kovac fires Bayern up ahead of Schalke clash

Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac has called on his side to build on the 2-0 win over Benfica in the Champions League, and perform well against Schalke on Saturday.

Bayern are set to face Die Konigsblauen at the VELTINS-Arena in North Rhine-Westphalia on Saturday evening, though the Bundesliga leaders appear to be strong favourites to collect the three points.

The home team have lost all three of their matches in 2018/19 and are second from bottom in Germany's top flight.

Nonetheless, Kovac insists his side do not lower their standards and instead go out with commitment to get the victory.

Speaking to the club's official website, he said: "We're happy about the start we made, but it's over. It's Bundesliga time. We want to pick up where we left off against Leverkusen.

"But it's not going to be easy. We have to live up to our full potential, and if so we'll win.

"They know what's at stake. It's incredible how each one motivates himself. Everybody wants to play, and the lads don't realise they can't always play. But the matches are very intense.

"We coaches don't just stand on the touchline, watching the match and hoping we'll win. We have to plan in advance. That's why we have to find the right rotation and balance."

Hoffenheim v Borussia Dortmund

Hoffenheim know they face a difficult test to return to winning ways against an in-form Borussia Dortmund at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena on Saturday.

Julian Nagelsmann's side are yet to really get going but Adam Szalai has weighed in with three goals this season, including a brace in the club's only league win of the season. Florian Grillitsch and Havard Nordtveit were, meanwhile, on target in the 2-2 Champions League draw with Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday.

Axel Witsel has been in fine form for Dortmund in his defensive responsibilities while also netting a league goal, while Christian Pulisic was the match-winner against Club Brugge on Tuesday.

With just one Bundesliga win, Hoffenheim come into this match in 11th place with just three points while Dortmund are in second place, on seven points, trailing leaders Bayern Munich by two points.

After kicking off the season by thrashing Kaiserslautern 6-1 in the cup, Nagelsmann's side lost to Bayern and Fortuna Dusseldorf after beating Freiburg, and most recently held Shakhtar on the road.

Lucien Favre's side have, meanwhile, beaten RB Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga while drawing with Hannover 96, ahead of seeing off Brugge.

After the game, Favre said: "It was difficult. They are Belgian champions and they worked hard.

"We are satisfied that we have won our first away game. But we have had trouble and we have much to do. It is a very good thing that we won, but we should not exaggerate expectations.

"We have many young players, it takes time to play well."

Nagelsmann added: "All players that were available for the game against Donetsk will be available tomorrow. Obviously, we'll have to start managing this workload at some point, so we are being careful with certain positions.

"We'll be ready for Dortmund to do what Lucien Favre stands for. You can see the structure, they play varying systems, the only thing that they haven't fully got yet is creating chances on goal. I'm happy to be opposing him on the sideline."

In team news, one of Joelinton, Andrej Kramaric and Adam Szalai could drop out for Leonardo Bittencourt while Reiss Nelson could start for start for the hosts, while Cristian Pulisic is a doubt for Dortmund with a muscle injury, alongside Paco Alcacer, with a thigh problem. Thomas Delaney has overcome a knee issue.

Schalke 04 v Bayern Munich

Schalke know they will have a tough task to secure their first points of the new Bundesliga season when they host Bayern Munich on Saturday.

The Royal Blues come into this game second from bottom on the Bundesliga standings, with three losses from their opening three matches, succumbing to Wolfsburg, Hertha Berlin and Borussia Monchengladbach, ahead of holding Porto.

Breel Embolo has been one shining light for a struggling Schalke side this season. The 21-year-old Swiss international has netted two goals in the last two games, including an equaliser in the 1-1 Champions League draw with Porto on Tuesday.

Bayern are, meanwhile, top of the standings with maximum points, after seeing off Hoffenheim, Stuttgart and Bayer Leverkusen, as well as Benfica 2-0 in Champions League action.

Bayern's stars are in full flight already this term, with Arjen Robben shining alongside Robert Lewandowski, who has also scored two. They will be a handful for Schalke to contain this weekend.

After his side's draw in Europe, Schalke boss Domenico Tedesco told his club's website: "We are slightly disappointed with this point, as I felt that we actually played well.

"The way we conceded the equaliser was just so frustrating. Nevertheless we have taken another step in the right direction today."

Bayern boss Niko Kovac told a pre-match press conference: "All the players that were in Lisbon are fit, and also Thiago will do the final training.

"We want to continue at Schalke as we stopped last week against Leverkusen I expect an aggressive, intense game."

He added: "Renato (Sanches) has done very well against Benfica, he has confirmed our confidence and will play regularly in the coming weeks."

In team news, Bastian Oczipka and Benjamin Stambouli remain sidelined for Schalke. Steven Skrzybski has a slight torn muscle and will also not be available.

Rafinha, Kingsley Coman and Corentin Tolisso are long-term injuries for Bayern.

Hutter: Our mentality is to win

Head coach Adi Hutter says that if Eintracht Frankfurt can avoid too many mistakes they can record a result against Marseille in their Europa League opener.

The Bundesliga side take on their Ligue 1 challengers at the Orange Velodrome where Hutter will be taking charge in the Europa League for the first time.

Speaking to the club's official website ahead of the clash, the former Red Bull Salzburg and BSC Young Boys manager added that his side will feel out their opposition during the tie.

An excited Hutter said: "Just flying over Marseille and seeing the huge stadium makes the excitement level go up. We’re playing against a great club and we can’t wait to finally get going in the Europa League on Thursday evening."

He added: "We’re not going to go all guns blazing but we won’t park the bus either. We’ll also see how the game unfolds and what the opposition offer up. I expect Marseille to play in a 4-2-3-1 formation as they did last season, but I think it’s open as to which players will start. In last season’s competition they rotated heavily and they have lots of different options within their squad."

On the possibility of defeating Marseille, Hutter continued: "Our mentality is to win games. Obviously we find ourselves in a tough group but we want to hold our own here. If we cut out the mistakes we've been making, I'm confident we can get something."

The match will be played without supporters after UEFA punished Marseille for a number of crowd disturbances from last season.

"It’ll be my first behind-closed-doors game in my career. That’s a shame for everyone but it is what it is," concluded Hutter.

Nagelsmann: We played very well

Julian Nagelsmann was proud of Hoffenheim despite being held to a 2-2 draw with Shakhtar Donetsk.

Florian Grillitsch opened the scoring on just six minutes for the Bundesiga side but Ismaily levelled for the hosts at the Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist with 27 minutes on the clock.

Havard Nordtveit restored Hoffenheim's lead with 38 played, only for Maycon to score an 81st minute equaliser.

Speaking after the game, Nagelsmann said: "It was our first game of this kind, and it was important to test our qualities and ideas.

"We played very well in defence as we defended so deep deliberately. I think it was a very spectacular match.

"We could have scored the third goal but maybe the team was tired in the end. I'm glad for the result overall. The boys fulfilled the tasks I had set before them.

"We've learnt some useful tactical aspects in this game which will help us in future."

 

Kovac: Bayern missed too many chances

Bayern Munich manager Niko Kovac believes his side could have killed off their game against Benfica earlier, but is satisfied with Wednesday's 2-0 victory.

The Bundesliga champions traveled to Portugal for the opening Group E clash of their UEFA Champions League campaign and pulled off a comfortable win thanks to goals from Robert Lewandowski and Renato Sanches.

Kovac was pleased with the win but felt his team also squandered too many opportunities, which could have seen them close out the game much earlier.

"We wanted to have a good start in both the Bundesliga and the Champions League. We knew Benfica have an exceedingly good team. They have a straightforward approach and try to finish quickly," he told the press.

"We had to fight, we had many presentable chances but failed to make the most of them, we could have closed it out earlier. We want to go far in the Champions League. We have to stay focused, we know we're being hunted by everyone."

Bayern's next group game will be at home against Eredivisie outfit Ajax on October 2.

Kovac: Sanches' time will come

Bayern Munich head coach Niko Kovac is determined to bring the best out of Renato Sanches after a difficult start to the youngster's career in Germany.

The Benfica youth product moved to the Allianz Arena on the back of an impressive breakout season for both club and country two years ago, which culminated in a winners' medal for Portugal at Euro 2016.

However, Sanches' progress has stalled after he failed to impress Carlo Ancelotti during the 2016/17 campaign and endured a disappointing loan spell at Swansea last term.

Kovac is not about to give up on the 21-year-old midfielder, though, saying he just needs help in adjusting to life in Bavaria. Sanches has made just nine starts for the Reds to date, but was included in the matchday squad for Saturday's 3-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen.

"I cannot judge the past. I know the facts, but why he came to the problems I cannot say exactly," Kovac told Goal.

"He is European, but comes from another country. Other countries, other customs, other characteristics. This is not just a football-specific, but rather a social issue.

"You have to try to understand other people. You cannot treat a foreigner like a German because he reacts differently to different things. I told Renato that it's not easy to become a Bayern regular. His chance will come.

"He is a young player and does his job really well. Right now, in our personnel situation, the probability is very high that he will play soon.

"He was not dubbed for nothing as one of the world's best of his age. But you have to give people time and not assume that they work immediately.

"The young players only have to process the impressions when they come to a foreign country. It is unjust that foreign players are required to explode immediately."

Boateng wants Bayern bosses backing

Jerome Boateng says he wants the support of Bayern Munich after reaffirming his commitment to the Bundesliga side.

The 30-year-old German World Cup winner was considering a transfer to Paris Saint-Germain in the off-season but the move failed to materialise.

Bayern bosses Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness were happy to retain the services of the experienced defender, but said he was available if the right offer came in.

Now with the former Manchester City man trying to settle into his season with the club, Boateng wants to clear the air with those in charge.

Speaking to Sueddeutsche Zeitung, he said: "I think we should talk again in the near future - that's what we have set out to do - it's important for me to make it clear once again that I'm fully focused on FC Bayern.

"And on the other hand, I don't think it's nice when things are said about me everywhere and then you do not get any public support from the club."

Boateng also voiced his displeasure at the criticism he received at the World Cup in Russia where Germany were knocked out in the group stages.

"What really bothered me were some of the statements right after the World Cup.

"That was almost funny. It was said that I was not fully focused, because I wear earrings and wore sunglasses during the South Korea match when the sun was shining.

"In 2014 (at the World Cup in Brazil), I also wore sunglasses and earrings, but I didn't read anything about that. It's incomprehensible to me.

"As a player you would sometimes want a bit more public backing."

Tedesco frustrated with Champions League draw

Domenico Tedesco was disappointed that Schalke were unable to claim maximum points from their 1-1 Champions League draw with Porto on Tuesday night.

Breel Embolo had opened the scoring for the Bundesliga side on 64 minutes ahead of a 75th minute penalty from Otavinho.

But it may have been a lot worse for Schalke had goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann not saved Alex Telles' 13th minute penalty for a handball by Naldo.

After the draw at the Veltins-Arena, Tedesco told the post-match press conference: "We are slightly disappointed with this point, as I felt that we actually played well.

"We pressed them well, were mentally strong and showed real hunger to win the second balls. We consistently tried to play the ball in behind their defence, in order to create chances for ourselves.

"We had already had chances to go ahead before 1-0, but then I feel we were a little bit passive after going ahead. Perhaps our strikers had started to run out of stream, as they worked so hard. It’s not easy to mark and trouble the opponent’s defensive midfielders like Mark and Breel did tonight."

He added: "The way we conceded the equaliser was just so frustrating. The first penalty was for me a correct decision, as it clearly hit Naldo’s hand. It was a 50-50 decision.

"I saw no contact for the second penalty though, and if there was any then it was minimal. I don’t think you can give a penalty for that. Nevertheless we have taken another step in the right direction today."

Favre still looking for the 'right system'

Lucien Favre is refusing to get ahead of himself after Borussia Dortmund kicked off their Champions League campaign with a narrow 1-0 victory over Club Brugge.

The group stage clash at the Jan Breydelstadion looked to be heading for a draw until Christian Pulisic came off the bench to score with five minutes of the match remaining.

The result put BVB second in Group A, behind Atletico Madrid, who came from behind to defeat Monaco.

Speaking after the game, Favre told Sky: "It's really good that we won. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. We have a lot of young players and a lot of new players in midfield. It takes time to find the right system."

Marco Reus, who played the full 90 minutes, added: "We played badly going forwards, and had little to no chances.

"We didn't do enough to get ourselves into dangerous areas. We still have a lot of work to do. I'll take the ugly win this time around because it's important to finish the first match with a good result."

Benfica v Bayern Munich

Two past winners of the UEFA Champions League will go head to head in a mouthwatering Wednesday night clash as Benfica host Bayern Munich at Estadio do SL Benfica.

Robert Lewandowski will be the danger man for Bayern, having netted twice in three Bundesliga matches. In addition, he scored a hat-trick in their German Super Cup victory over Eintracht Frankfurt and a goal in the DFB-Pokal victory over SV Drochtersen/Assel.

At the other end, Pizzi is the in-form attacker for Benfica and has scored four times already in four league matches. The Bayern defence will have to be wary of the versatile midfielder.

Bayern, meanwhile, got their Bundesliga campaign off to a perfect start, with three wins from three matches. However, they have been hit by an injury crisis, with several key players out of action or nursing knocks.

"It's a shame, it's sad, it's affected all of us a lot. Unfortunately injuries are part of professional football," said Bayern coach Niko Kovac.

His opposite number, Rui Vitoria, has got Benfica's league campaign off to a good start, with three wins and a draw, putting them top of the table.

In team news, Corentin Tolisso and Rafinha are out for Bayern, having picked up long-term injuries, while Franck Ribery set out Monday's training session with an upset stomach. Arjen Robben, meanwhile, trained alone in Bayern's fitness centre.

There have also been doubts over the fitness of Leon Goretzka, who reportedly suffered an injury in training, but the Bavarian giants have included him in their squad alongside Ribery and Robben. The latest indications are that the trio will be fit to play.

Nevertheless, Benfica will be looking to take advantage of Bayern's injury woes.

Club Brugges v Borussia Dortmund

Belgian side Club Brugge and German outfit Borussia Dortmund meet on Tuesday with both teams seeking to win their Group A UEFA Champions League opener at Jan Breydel Stadium.

Striker Jelle Vossen is in good form and could lead the line after his match-winning cameo from the bench at the weekend against Lokeren, that took his total to a club-best four goals in as many appearances. The 29-year-old could give Dortmund's defence a few problems.

Midfielder Axel Witsel has enjoyed an impressive start for BVB since arriving at the German Bundesliga outfit ahead of 2018/19. The combative player has given Dortmund solidity in the centre of the park and his influence could be substantial on Tuesday night.

Club Brugge are top of the Belgian top-flight with 19 points from seven matches and have won five matches in a row on home soil.

Nonetheless, manager Ivan Leko is under no illusions as to the huge challenge his side are facing in the form of BVB.

He told reporters: "We must surpass ourselves. We worked on this for a whole year, but we can not be overconfident.

"We have a sober group and we have ambition. And we do not put that away, Club Brugge wants to get points at home. In every match for our own audience we want to make it very difficult for the opponent."

Meanwhile, the away side are also on a good run and currently trail Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich by two points after three matches.

As such, coach Lucien Favre has praised some key performers such as Jadon Sancho, Alex Witsel and forward Paco Alcacer. The pair were superb in the recent 3-1 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt.

He said: "Sancho, Witsel and Alcacer added new impulses. The 2-1 was a well-crafted goal and after retaking the lead, the team was playing very well."

Clinton Mata remains out for the hosts after undergoing groin surgery in June. Other than that, Blauw-Zwart have virtually a clean bill of health.

For the away team, Thomas Delaney misses out with an undisclosed injury while Alcacer is not available due to a minor thigh strain. Raphael Guerreiro is also on the sidelines. Christian Pulisic is fit and could make his 100th appearance for BVB if he plays.

Robben: I always give everything

Arjen Robben says he is lucky to still be playing at the highest level for Bayern Munich at the grand old age of 34.

The 96-capped Netherlands international has scored twice already this season, including a superb volley in the 3-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen - as Bayern started the season in emphatic form, beating all teams in their path.

The former Groningen, PSV, Chelsea and Real Madrid winger, who has a host of individual and team awards, is preparing to face Benfica in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

Speaking to the official Bundesliga website, Robben, who now has 140 competitive goals for Bayern, knows he might not play as much this season, but will give his all when he takes the pitch.

Robben said: "I always give everything. If I don’t play, I always try to go pedal to the floor when I come in.

"It’ll happen a lot more, but it’s important to give everything and be important for the team when you’re on the pitch."

He added: "I’m 34 now, and I just try to enjoy every moment. Sometimes it hits you how lucky you are to be able to play here, at a sold-out Allianz Arena. You just have to enjoy it.

"I don’t know how long it’ll last, but I don’t feel like I’m 34 right now. I feel very, very fit. Hopefully it’ll stay that way for a long time. Then I can enjoy playing. I always try to do that. Then you can be successful."

And on facing Benfica, he explained: "It’s the Champions League, it’s a totally different ball game.

"We have to keep going our way, but there’s always room for improvement. We played well in the first half against Leverkusen and also worked hard off the ball.

"In the second half, we eased off a bit. We have to watch out for misplaced passes; teams like Benfica can be very dangerous in the transition. We have a lot of quality and creativity going forward. We have to work hard defensively, only then will be successful."

Favre: Dortmund can't afford to look past Brugge

Borussia Dortmund manager Lucien Favre has warned his team against complacency as they prepare to take on Club Brugge in their UEFA Champions League opener.

The BVB will travel to Belgium to take on FCB at Jan Breydelstadion on Tuesday night for a Group A encounter, and Favre doesn't want his team to look past the Jupiler Pro League champions.

"They are Belgian Champions and that says it all. They have a very good squad," he told the press.

"Of course, we hope to be in the in the top two at the end. First we'll concentrate on this game here in Bruges, before we look any further. If you're Champions of Belgium, you automatically have a good team.

"We must play compact, defend well and also play forward well, play forward intelligently."

Midfielder Alex Witsel echoed his manager's comments, adding: "I personally have played many times against Brugge. We'll be facing a tough opponent, it won't be easy. We have to give everything to win this game."

In the other Group A fixture, Ligue 1 outfit AS Monaco will play host to Spanish side Atletico Madrid.

BVB CEO asks Matthaus to stop 'trampling' Gotze

Borussia Dortmund’s CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has implored German legend Lothar Matthaus to stop criticising out of form playmaker Mario Gotze.

Gotze has not been in the plans of Dortmund head coach Lucien Favre in 2018/19, and has managed less than 50 appearances for BVB since moving back to the side from Bayern Munich in 2016.

During that time, the 2014 World cup final match-winner has netted just four goals.

As such, he has come under fire from Matthaus who has said he has lost his edge and needs to move to another team in order to try and regain his form.

Responding to his comments, Watzke said: "I know that Lothar Matthaus earns his money as a pundit and has to put forward provocative theories, but it would be nice, if one of the greatest players that Germany ever had, he could leave Mario alone and not trample on him.

"Mario is doing the right things: he trains well, he does not let up, he gives to the team, he's totally focused, he's an important part of our squad and I'm sure he'll play some great games for BVB this season.

"I know for sure that the coach has a very high opinion of him and will use him, as he clearly said after the match."

Bayern's Ribery aims to keep playing till age 38

Bayern Munich's veteran winger Franck Ribery believes this could be his final season at the club, though he wants to continue playing even if he leaves.

The 35-year-old signed a one-year contract extension towards the latter part of 2017/18, and is now entering the 12th campaign with the Bundesliga giants.

During his time with the Bavarians the former France forward has won every major honour domestically with Bayern, and also was a part of the team which won the UEFA Champions League under Jupp Heynckes.

Speaking to Kicker, the experienced performer said: "It's too early to say now. I'd be up for another season, but let's wait and see how this season shapes up.

"I am relaxed and don't put myself under pressure. You must assess your performances correctly. It's too early to say now.

"I never wanted to leave. There were serious offers from China, but I like the Bundesliga and the Champions League. I dream of winning it for the second time.

"I am still ambitious, I am still driven. I have never said to myself this will be the last year. I have won everything, I can relax now. I always give it my all because it could be my last year.

"At my age, you never know what's next, but I would like to play until I am 38."

Bayern 'fired up' for Champions League opener

Bayern Munich Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic believes the club are highly motivated in taking on Benfica in Wednesday's Group E Champions League clash.

The clash with the Portuguese giants is set to take place at the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica, with both sides no doubt looking to make a positive start in Europe's most prestigious club competition.

Last season the Bavarians reached the semi-finals where they were perhaps unfortunate to lose to eventual champions Real Madrid.

Nonetheless, the Bundesliga giants are in top form going into the contest having won every match in 2018/19 under coach Niko Kovac. With that said, Benfica are currently top of the Primeira standings with 10 points from four matches.

Salihamidzic, who made 85 appearances for FC Bayern in the UCL in his playing days, told his club's official website: "We're all fired up. The Champions League is special for all of us, for every player, but also for us. We're looking forward to it."

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is also looking forward to once more taking part. He added: "We're glad it starts again. The Champions League is a special competition of course, you start from scratch there.

"It surely won't be easy away to Benfica. We'll have to give it everything."

Bayern hit with injury blows to Tolisso and Rafinha

Bayern Munich will be without the services of both Corentin Tolisso and Rafinha for the extended future after the pair were injured in the 3-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen.

Bayern made it five wins from five in all competitions under coach Niko Kovac but have now two further casualties to add to Kingsley Coman in the treatment room.

Tolisso picked up a cruciate ligament injury which rules him out for months, whereas Rafinha is out of line for selection with an ankle problem.

Bayern's official website said: "The Brazilian full-back is set to be out for several weeks with an ankle injury caused by a foul from Leverkusen's Karim Bellarabi, while Tolisso's cruciate ligament rupture will keep him out for months.

"Along with Kingsley Coman, who suffered a syndesmosis ligament tear against Hoffenheim on Matchday one, it means Bayern already have three long-term casualties in the treatment room."

Speaking of the situation, Kovac added: "I'm very sad and disappointed that we have two injured players after the game.

"The result is certainly positive for us but my mood is dampened."