Double injury woe hurts Bayern

Bayern Munich have suffered a double blow as they battle Borussia Dortmund for the Bundesliga title, with both Manuel Neuer and Mats Hummels picking up injuries.

Germany international goalkeeper Neuer suffered a recurrence of an old calf injury during the 4-1 win over Fortuna Dusseldorf on Sunday, with central defender Hummels reporting a thigh problem late on the game.

Neuer is facing around two weeks on the sidelines, with the knock to Hummels rated as a little less serious by the Bayern medical team.

Die Roten are currently one point clear of Dortmund at the top of the table with five games to play, with Bayern having scored 27 goals in their last six league games.

The men from Munich are priced at 2/7 to secure a seventh straight Bundesliga title, with BVB available at 13/5.

Meanwhile, Lille chairman Gerard Lopez believes it is inevitable that Bayern target Nicolas Pepe will leave the Ligue 1 outfit at the end of the season.

The 23-year-old Ivory Coast international forward has scored 18 league goals so far this season and is reported to be on the wanted lists of several top European clubs, with such interest prompting Lopez to admit: "It is certain, he will leave.

"He has moved into a price range that we cannot afford anymore. There is a career choice to make for him, I think he will have the choice (of clubs)."

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Bayern rout rivals Dortmund

Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich thrashed title rivals Borussia Dortmund 5-0 at the Allianz Arena to return to the summit with only six games remaining.

Dortmund, who were two points clear heading into the match, were shell-shocked as Bayern tore them apart scoring four first-half goals.

Strikes from Robert Lewandowski, Mats Hummels, Serge Gnabry and Javi Martinez ensured the game labelled the "biggest in Europe this season" was all over before it properly begun.

Bayern, who are chasing a seventh consecutive Bundesliga title, added a fifth from Lewandowski late in the contest.

Only Gerd Muller (234 games) has scored 200 goals in the Bundesliga quicker than the Polish international's 284 games.

Dortmund were nine points clear at the top back in December and on course to halt Bayern's domestic domination, but the champions have ruthlessly taken advantage of the stuttering form of their rivals to claw back the deficit and are in pole position entering the home straight.

Lewandowski has now scored 15 goals in this fixture (14 for Bayern, one for Dortmund) – surpassing Muller's previous record of 14.

The ex-Dortmund striker has become the scourge of his former employers, as he became the first player in Bundesliga history to score in five consecutive games against a former club.

Despite this major setback, Bayern's slip-up last week against Freiburg suggests there could still be more twists to come over the final weeks of the season.

Bayern are 3/10 to win the German title, with Dortmund now 5/2 following their chastising experience in Munich.

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Hummels confident of Bayern recovery

Bayern Munich defender Mats Hummels says that he is not concerned by latest defeats and predicts a strong recovery.

Bayern have won the Bundesliga title in each of the last six years but have started this season relatively poorly.

They are sixth in the table after seven games, Borussia Dortmund leading the way with 17 points, four ahead of Bayern who have already lost two league games this campaign.

Those losses have come in their most recent games, 2-0 away to Hertha Berlin and then, last weekend, a 3-0 home defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach.

There is now a pause for the international break but those two defeats on the spin have led to criticism in the media, though Hummels says the players are not panicking and are sure they will soon return to winning ways.

The German defender told Bundesliga.com: "We've all won and lost our fair share, we won't drive ourselves up the wall thinking about it. We know there are things we have to improve and that we're not playing well.

"But it's not the case that we don't think we can make a marked improvement in our play, because we know we can. We've always said things can change quickly – in any direction. At the moment, teams are getting the rub of the green and we're not, then you fall behind."

Niko Kovac took over as coach at the start of the season and began well, winning his first seven matches in all competitions but now faces the first test of his time in charge.

Bayern Munich are 2/9 to win the Bundesliga title with Borussia Dortmund 9/2.

After the international break Bayern return to Bundesliga action with two away games, against VfL Wolfsburg and Mainz 05.

Hummels meanwhile is in the Germany squad which takes on the Netherlands on Saturday and then France in the Nations League.

Germany are 21/20 to win in Holland with Ronald Koeman's side 12/5 and the draw 5/2.

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Heynckes fires Bayern warning

Bayern Munich head coach Jupp Heynckes has warned his side that they will need to up their game if they are to win the Champions League this season.

Heynckes was speaking after seeing Bayern fight back from a goal down to win 2-1 at Sevilla in the first leg of their quarter-final tie, with Thiago Alcantara scoring the goal which gives the German outfit a slender advantage to take back to the Allianz Arena.

And he was far from fully satisfied with the performance on Tuesday evening, saying: "We lost the ball too often and lacked structure in midfield, which allowed Sevilla to create chances.

"We improved in the second half and in the end deserved to win, but if we want to win the Champions League, we need to improve."

Bayern are currently priced at 10/3 to win the Champions League this season, with Barcelona 11/4 and holders Real Madrid 11/4.

Meanwhile, central defender Mats Hummels also admitted that his Bayern side could do better, while insisting that Sevilla had not surprised him by the standard of their display.

He told BT Sport: "We're very happy about the result and about most parts of the game as well, but it wasn't a good 90 minutes from us.

"We always told everyone how good they are, because we knew. So it didn't come as a surprise for us, but of course we didn't want them to be that dominant for the majority of the first half.

"That's something we will analyse and talk about and we will try not to let it happen again in next week's game in Munich.''

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Football Betting’s easy when you back the Winners…

Czech Republic 1-2 Germany

And isn’t that the truth! But the ebbs and flows of football games make it the most exciting sport to watch. The favourites can cut it fine and Germany’s late win in Prague was a classic.

There was real live betting drama when the Czech Republic equalised late in the game but Max Hummels headed an 88th minute winner to make is seven wins from seven for the Group C runaway leaders.

It was an explosive start by Germany and they went ahead after just four minutes when Mesut Ozil squared to Timo Werner in the middle of the box and he fired home. That early goal set up a lively first half in which both sides could have scored but failed to hit the target. Czech Republic’s Jan Boril forced a save on 16 minutes with a fine shot from distance and that prompted a flurry of chances for the home side but the German defence held firm.

At the other end Toni Kroos tried his luck a couple of times, once blasting over and the second drawing a save, while Arsenal’s Ozil seemed to be shrugging off his domestic malaise with a lively display.

The second half continued in the same vein with chances at both ends, first Germany’s Lars Stindl forcing a save before Tomas Soucek came close twice for the Czechs. Joachim Low brought PSG’s Julian Draxler on after 68 minutes to try to spark a fast finish, but it was the Czechs who scored on 78 minutes when Jakub Jankto teed up Vladimir Darida to fire a bullet into the top corner.

And then, right at the death, up popped Mats Hummels to nod home Toni Kroos cross for the winner. Never write Germany off!

 

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Ancelotti retains Bayern hope

Carlo Ancelotti insists his Bayern Munich outfit still have a chance of eliminating holders Real Madrid at the quarter-final stage of the Champions League.

A 2-1 home loss in the Allianz Arena left the Bavarians with something of a mountain to climb in the Santiago Bernabeu next Tuesday.

However, coach Ancelotti was keen to take heart from the fact that his side missed a penalty when leading 1-0 and only lost control of the game after reduced to ten men by the sending-off of Javi Martinez on the hour mark.

The Italian told reporters: "We controlled the match during the first half, but we were lacking efficiency. Also, we were not that lucky. Having ten players of course made it more difficult, but we did okay.

"We are still alive, we are not dead. Real Madrid have better chances now, but we still have a chance too. We will play with everything we have."

Ancelotti also hopes to be boosted by both central defender Mats Hummels and striker Robert Lewandowski being able to feature in the Bernabeu, having been forced to miss out on Wednesday evening.

Hummels was absent due to an ankle problem, while leading scorer Lewandowksi failed a late test on a damaged shoulder.

"I think Hummels and Lewandowski have time to recover for the second leg," Ancelotti added.

Bayern are now available at 10/3 to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League and are 18/1 to win the second leg 2-0 in 90 minutes, with the German champions 11/1 to go all the way and lift the trophy.

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Champions League Preview: Real Madrid Underdogs Against Bayern

Real Madrid are 11/10 to avoid defeat in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich and put themselves in a strong position heading into the return match.

Real find themselves in the unusual position of being the underdogs with Bayern 39/50 for victory at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night while the leaders of LaLiga are on offer at 18/5.

The German side suffered a setback on Sunday too when Mats Hummels was injured in training. The defender sprained an ankle and sustained ligament damage which means he will almost certainly miss the first leg and could also be forced to sit out the trip to the Bernabeu next Tuesday.

Real will hope they can take advantage of the absence of Hummels and look good value at 23/20 to progress to the semi-finals. Zinedine Zidane’s men are also available at 12/5 to reach the final and 21/4 to win the competition.

It is not all bad news on the injury front for Bayern, though, and coach Carlo Ancelotti may have some positive news with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer likely to return following a minor foot operation.

Top scorer Robert Lewandowski should be available, despite suffering a bruised shoulder in the 4-1 Bundesliga win over Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, while Thomas Muller is back in contention after missing two games with an ankle problem.

Muller, who lifted the trophy with Bayern in 2013 and also finished runner-up in 2010 and 2012, cannot wait for the visit of Real and is optimistic about his side's chances of knocking out the holders.

“We're very confident,” he said. “It's a European cracker featuring two top teams. Of course we're really looking forward to it.

“We also notice it outside the club, not only in terms of the media but also when talking to friends or acquaintances in Munich. Everyone's talking about the game. We're well-prepared.”

Despite being two of the leading clubs on the continent, Bayern and Real have never met in the final of the European Cup or Champions League.

But they have been paired together 10 times in the knockout stages of Europe's elite club competition and the bragging rights are split down the middle with five overall wins apiece.

Real, though, will have fond memories of their last visit to Bavaria after trouncing Bayern 4-0 in the return leg of their semi-final three years ago en route to a comprehensive 5-0 aggregate success.

They enter Wednesday's fixture on the back of a nine-game unbeaten run although a six-match winning streak was ended over the weekend in a draw with city rivals Atletico.

Bayern were unexpectedly challenged by RB Leipzig in the early stages of this season but have opened up a 10-point advantage in the Bundesliga while they have looked in ominous form in recent weeks – not least in a 10-2 aggregate destruction of Arsenal in the previous Champions League round.

The match sees two of the best forwards in the world go up against each other as Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo take centre stage.

Lewandowski has bagged 15 goals in his last 11 appearances for Bayern, including Bundesliga hat-tricks in routs over Hamburg and Augsburg.

The 28-year-old has found the net 26 times in the German top flight this season while a record of 38 goals in 40 games in all competitions is astonishing.

Real need no reminders of Lewandowski's prowess after the Pole became the first player to score four goals in a Champions League game while representing Dortmund against them four years ago.

Ronaldo has only scored once in his last five matches for Real but a 2016/17 record of 26 goals from 36 appearances is commendable, if slightly below his usual output over the course of a season.

Lewandowski is the 11/4 favourite to open the scoring and is odds on, at 81/100, to hit the net at any time in the first leg. He is also 9/2 to score at least twice and 25/1 for a hat-trick.

Ronaldo is 7/4 to score, 23/4 for the opener and 9/1 for a repeat of the double he enjoyed at the same venue three years ago.

Real’s city rivals Atletico are also in Champions League action on Wednesday night as they host the outsiders in the competition, Leicester.

The Foxes are famously no strangers to upsetting the odds, though, and the bookmakers will certainly be wary of writing them off, with Leicester 33/1 to complete another fairytale success to match last season’s historic Premier League win.

Leicester are 19/5 to get through to the semi-finals while Atletico are the clear favourites at 9/50. The home side are 2/7 win the first leg while Leicester are 12/1 for the win and 14/5 to avoid defeat.

It could be argued that facing Atletico is the worst draw the Foxes could have been given due to their style of play, which should limit their favoured tactic of catching the opposition out on the counter-attack.

Atletico come into the tie in good form, too. They have lost just three times in their last 25 matches in all competitions – twice to Barcelona – and sit third in LaLiga.

Saturday's 1-1 draw at Real, thanks to Antoine Griezmann's late equaliser, left them 10 points behind their city rivals in the title race.

While Diego Simeone's men are unlikely to win the league for the first time since 2014 they have lost just four times at home, twice in LaLiga, this campaign.

They have also only failed to score twice in their last 25 games – the 0-0 draw against Bayer Leverkusen which set up their clash against Leicester and a 3-0 defeat at Villarreal in December.

They are 29/20 to score three or more goals on Wednesday, 5/2 to manage exactly two and 29/20 to be limited to no more than one.

Keeping Griezmann quiet will be key. The in-form France striker has scored seven times in his last nine games for club and country and is the hosts' biggest threat with 25 goals so far this term.

He is averaging a goal every 171 minutes in LaLiga and is 87/100 to breach Leicester’s defence or 51/20 for the first goal.

While Leicester’s interim boss Craig Shakespeare is new to the role, his opposite number Simeone knows what it takes to win European trophies.

He won LaLiga in 2014 – the first time the club were champions since Simeone won it with them as a player in 1996 – to break Real and Barcelona's stranglehold on the crown.

Simeone also clinched the Europa League in 2012 and guided the Rojiblancos to the Champions League final in 2014 and 2016 – when they twice lost to Real.

The former Inter Milan midfielder has already warned his team to be wary of Leicester, though, saying: “This is a team that was able to win the English league. We know the game will be very tough against a rival that is similar to us.”

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