Oczipka proud of first season at Schalke

Schalke left-back Bastian Oczipka is relishing his time at the club and says he has already achieved more than he expected this season.

The 29-year-old left Eintracht Frankfurt to sign for the Royal Blues in July last year and has fast become a regular starter for Domenico Tedesco's side.

Oczipka has made 25 appearances in the Bundesliga this term and has helped them get up to second position in the standings, 17 points behind leaders Bayern Munich and one clear of third-placed Borussia Dortmund.

"I have already surpassed the expectations I set in summer. I have played nearly every game, we're second in the Bundesliga and in the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal," he told the club's official website. 

"I feel really settled at Schalke and don't have any regrets about my transfer."

Oczipka added: "The table is still tight at the top. Of course our advantage is good but nothing more. We need to give everything we have in the remaining games to keep our tally ticking over.

"We're proud of our current run of five runs on the bounce. That hasn't happened in Schalke for several years."

Reus: I can still make World Cup squad

Borussia Dortmund winger Marco Reus remains hopeful that he could break into Joachim Low's squad for the 2018 World Cup as Germany look to defend their title.

The 28-year-old missed out on a call-up for the friendly internationals against Spain and Brazil on March 23 and 27 respectively, due to the fact that he only recently recovered from a long-term injury.

Reus spent eight months on the sidelines with an ankle ligament problem, but made an instant impact upon his return for BVB, scoring three goals in five appearances.

And the 2014 World Cup winner was quoted as saying on the official Bundesliga website: "If I play consistently and stay healthy, then I'll have a chance. It's up to the coach."

When asked about Reus, Low explained: "With Marco, it's important to be cautious, to ease him back to the top level without putting any unnecessary pressure on him.

"Above all, he needs to be pain-free and fit over a longer period of time, playing and training regularly, so he can find his rhythm and build up his confidence.

The Germany international added on Goal: "Of course it's nice to hear those things from the coach and to have Joachim Low's backing, even though I was out for so long. 

"When you've been out for so long, you never know how it's going to go. There'll probably be times when I'm not performing to the level I want to be, but right now I'm just happy to be back on the pitch. Hopefully, I can stay healthy."

Korkut warns Stuttgart against complacency

VfB Stuttgart manager Tayfun Korkut insists the team's priority is still Bundesliga survival, despite sitting in eighth position in the standings.

Korkut's charges have been on a terrific run of form in the league recently. They are unbeaten in their last seven Bundesliga games, winning five, and are 12 points clear of the bottom three.

The run saw them climb from 14th to eighth in the standings, following their 2-1 win over Freiburg on Friday, but Korkut is determined not to allow complacency to creep into his squad.

"I am delighted that the team is so steadfast and that they have shown their true face when things weren’t going so well. After the 1-1 in Freiburg we adjusted ourselves well and took control of the tie [to win 2-1]," he told the club's official website.

"Internally, our top priority remains top-flight survival. The things being heaped on us from outside are completely irrelevant. We can’t afford to forget where we were just seven weeks ago.

"It’s all about sticking to your guns and continuing along the road you have taken. Once you begin to think you’ve done enough, you lack 5%.

"There is no letting up within the team so far as order and readiness are concerned - the lads are constantly boosting one another. 

"[We must] maintain our stability and order – where possible, build on it further."

Kohfeldt: Langkamp slotted in with ease

Werder Bremen head coach Florian Kohfeldt was delighted with Sebastian Langkamp's first Bundesliga start for the club in their 3-1 win over Augsburg on Saturday.

The 30-year-old centre-back completed his move from Hertha Berlin in January, but was only given his full debut at the weekend and showed off his quality.

Kohfeldt was impressed with Langkamp's performance and how easily he adapted to his new team-mates.

"Sebastian is an intelligent player, he has slotted in seamlessly. There were absolutely no coordination issues," Kohfeldt told the club's official website. 

Werder sporting director Frank Baumann added: "From the first minute, Sebastian dominated and delivered a fantastic performance."

Can doesn't regret leaving Bayern

Liverpool midfielder Emre Can has been linked with a return to Bayern Munich but insists he doesn't regret leaving the Bundesliga champions.

The 24-year-old's current contract at the Reds is due to expire at the end of the season, making him a free agent, and he is reportedly on his way back to the German giants.

Can joined Bayern's academy in 2009 and made his senior debut three years later, but made only seven appearances for Die Roten before leaving for Bundesliga rivals Bayer Leverkusen and eventually Liverpool.

When asked by Sport1 if he regrets leaving Bayern back then, the Germany international said: "Today you can see that it was the right decision. At that time it was like this: Pep Guardiola has come, and I have played a good preparation under him. Then we had a very, very honest conversation.

"I was very young and it was important for me to play a lot. He told me honestly: 'I cannot guarantee you now that you will play every week'. 

"Then I saw the opportunity in Leverkusen. They also played in the Champions League. For many it was a step backwards. But for me it was a step forward because I always played in Leverkusen. Today you can see that it has paid off."

Hummels: Leipzig defeat not a disaster

Bayern Munich defender Mats Hummels admits the 2-1 defeat to RB Leipzig bothered the team but doesn't represent a major problem for the Bundesliga leaders.

Die Roten took the early lead at the Red Bull Arena on Sunday thanks to Sandro Wagner's opener, but Naby Keita levelled matters before Timo Werner completed the comeback win in the 56th minute.

Hummels was frustrated with the result, but with Bayern still enjoying a 17-point lead at the top of the standings, he doesn't perceive the setback as a disaster.

"Leipzig were clearly on top. They definitely could have and should have been in front at half-time. It's not terrible but it still annoys us,"  the Germany international told the club's official website.

Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes echoed Hummels' sentiments, adding: "It's not a disaster for us to lose against such a good team - we have to take that into account."

Stambouli lifts lid on life with 'crazy' Ibra

Schalke defender Benjamin Stambouli has revealed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic reacted angrily to being called the 'King of Paris' claiming that he was, in fact, God.

The pair played together at PSG during the 2015/16 season and the Manchester United striker left a notable impression on the former Tottenham man.

"We were at physiotherapy and news was on TV," Stambouli told Goal. "Zlatan asked me to translate it because there was something about him on.

"So I explained that they said that Zlatan is the King of Paris. I thought he would be happy about it, because it's great that the people love him so much.

"But he was different. He was very angry and shouted at me: 'What the f***? I'm not the king, I'm god!' This guy is totally crazy."

However, the 27-year-old claimed that life was not all fun and games with the Swedish star, but gave a glowing character reference when asked what was special about him.

"His character, his strength on the pitch and his leadership. He is an incredible person that reads situations faster than everybody else," Stambouli said.

"Zlatan is very clever and tests you in every situation, only to analyse you. He loves to play things with you and is able to control some people this way."

The other trait that stood out to the Frenchman was Ibrahimovic's competitive spirit.

"Zlatan wants to win every single time," he said. "It doesn't matter if it's on the pitch or when we try to throw plastic bottles into the bin. Zlatan would do everything to win.

"When he was at PSG, he was the king of Paris and had already won a lot of trophies, but he was still hungry to win. He wants to win every day and wants to win everything you can win."

The 36-year-old has endured a difficult season at Old Trafford after returning from a long-term knee injury, playing just 119 minutes of football in all competitions for Jose Mourinho's side.

Schurrle ecstatic after Dortmund victory

Borussia Dortmund winger Andre Schurrle was delighted with the team's hard-fought 1-0 Bundesliga victory over Hannover 96 on Sunday afternoon.

The BVB scored the game's only goal in the 24th minute when Chelsea loanee Michy Batshuayi directed the ball into the back of the net with a deft flick from Schurrle's corner kick.

"I'm ecstatic and I feel very proud of the team too. We were lacking a lot of things in Salzburg, but today we were present from the start, pressed well, won the tackles, created lots of chances and deservedly went in front. 

"In the first half, we had everything under control; then, in the second, we continued to have shots and chances. We battled and the defence did an excellent job. 

"It is enormously important that we go into the challenges and win them too. For the goal, Michy made the perfect run and met it perfectly with the flick. It's important to get the opener from a set-piece from time to time."
The victory consolidated Dortmund's third position in the Bundesliga. They are only one point behind second-placed FC Schalke, who won at Wolfsburg on Saturday.

LVG: 'I wanted Lewandowski at Manchester United'

Former Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has revealed he tried to sign Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich during his stint at the Red Devils.

Van Gaal managed United from 2014 to 2016 after taking over from David Moyes. He was sacked after failing to qualify for the 2016/17 Champions League and replaced by Jose Mourinho.

The Dutch manager failed to get the best out of high-profile signings such as Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao, but has claimed he was unable to acquire the frontman he wanted from his former club in Bavaria.

"He is currently the best striker in the world. I also wanted to train Lewandowski and wanted to bring him to Manchester United," van Gaal told Bild.

"The price was not a problem for Manchester United, but Bayern did not want to let him go."

Lewandowski is currently the top scorer in the Bundesliga with 23 goals. He has been linked with a move away from Munich, with Real Madrid reportedly on the verge of snapping him up.

Meanwhile, van Gaal has not returned to management since the end of his tenure at Old Trafford.

Heynckes: It wasn't Bayern's day

Bayern Munich manager Jupp Heynckes admits RB Leipzig deserved their 2-1 victory over his team in their Bundesliga clash on Sunday evening.

Die Roten travelled to the Red Bull Arena to take on Leipzig and made the ideal start as Sandro Wagner put the visitors in front in the 12th minute. However, Ralph Hasenhuttl's charges responded positively and equalised through Naby Keita before Timo Werner produced the winning strike in the 56th minute.

Heynckes credited Leipzig for their performance and stated that it was simply one of those days in football when it doesn't go your way.

“We faced an excellent opponent today. We have to acknowledge that. Leipzig were really aggressive and ran hard to press us," he said, according to the club's official website.

"We didn’t play as well as in recent weeks. Leipzig deserved to win. There are always games like today when you’re not at your best and don’t defend well.”

Goalkeeper Sven Ulreich added: “We couldn’t get into the game at all and lost the ball unnecessarily. We didn’t have control. Leipzig pressed well and then came forward quickly after winning the ball. We weren’t as alert as usual and a bit too passive. We couldn’t pass the ball properly and lacked calmness in our play.”

Bayern remain 17 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga standings with only nine games left to play.