Burki urges no let-up from BVB

Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki has challenged his side to finish the first half of the Bundesliga season in a winning fashion.

BVB made sure that they will head into the winter break as the league leaders by claiming a 2-1 victory at home to Werder Bremen, with games against Fortuna Dusseldorf and Borussia Monchengladbach still to come before Christmas.

And Burki says it is vital that Dortmund maintain their superb form, which has seen them pull out a nine-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga.

He told his club's official website: "We still have two important games left before the winter break and want to keep up the consistency we have shown so far until the end of the first half of the season.

"We have superb players, a superb team – everything is just right at the moment. We need to continue like this.

"We're enjoying the moment, but we also know that it can turn quickly. We need to do everything in our power to stay at the top."

Dortmund have won 12 and drawn three in the Bundesliga so far this season, scoring 41 goals and conceding 15.

They were last crowned champions of Germany in 2012, since when they have finished as runners-up on three occasions.

BVB are now priced at 8/13 to be crowned Bundesliga champions this season, with Bayern Munich available at 13/10.

As well as impressing domestically, Dortmund have also done well in Europe, progressing to the knockout stages of the Champions League as winners of Group A.

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Ribery heading for Bayern exit

Franck Ribery is the latest player set to leave Bayern Munich at season's end, the Bundesliga champions have confirmed.

Bayern's sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic indicated that the French winger is likely to join Arjen Robben in exiting the Allianz Arena next summer.

Robben confirmed earlier this month that he would leave when his contract expires in the summer after a decade of success with the German champions.

Ribery, 35, and Robben have been part of a hugely successful era for Bayern since arriving more than nine years ago.

"The president [Uli Hoeness] talked about it [the possibility of Ribery leaving], and I think it will be like that. It's a year of changes," Salihamidzic told reporters.

Former France international Ribery has made 406 competitive appearances for Bayern, scoring 119 goals, and he has featured in 19 games so far this season.

He will have a key role to play as Bayern continue to prosper this season.

"I am pleased that Franck is still playing that well," Salihamidzic said. "He's one of our key players."

Bayern are 1/1 to win their Champions League game against Ajax in Amsterdam on Wednesday. The home side are 11/4 while the draw is 14/5.

Bayern need only avoid defeat in the Amsterdam Arena to take spot in Group E with the Eredivisie side set to join them in the last-16, regardless of the outcome on Wednesday.

The reverse fixture in October resulted in a 1-1 draw, with a repeat scoreline this time priced at 6/1.

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Dardai dazzled by loanee Grujic

Loan midfielder Marko Grujic has won lavish praise from Hertha Berlin head coach Pal Dardai for his performances since joining the Bundesliga club from Liverpool.

The 22-year-old Serbia international has featured in seven Bundesliga matches to date for Hertha, with his most recent outing seeing him score the only goal of the game as his side edged out Eintracht Frankfurt 1-0.

That result lifted Die Alte Dame up into sixth place in the table, with Dardai – who has been with the club for more than two decades as a player and coach – hugely impressed by the potential of Grujic.

He told the official Bundesliga website: "I've been at Hertha for 22 years. This isn't meant as an insult to anyone else, but Marko is by far the best midfielder I've seen in my time at the club.

"He's got so much potential and you can see that out on the pitch. He's so robust in the middle of the park, but he can still play.

"He's good in the air, he wins tackles and has got such a strong desire to win. I can only say: 'respect' and he's not even fully fit. Just imagine what he'll be like when he is."

Next up for Hertha and Grujic is a trip to Stuttgart next Saturday, with the hosts currently in relegation trouble towards the wrong end of the Bundesliga table.

Die Alte Dame can be backed at 13/8 to take all three points at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, with the draw priced at 12/5, while Hertha are 16/1 to finish in the top four come the end of the season.

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Robben confirms Bayern exit

Bayern Munich star Arjen Robben has confirmed this will be his last season playing with the reigning Bundesliga champions.

The 34-year-old, who has scored 98 goals in 198 Bundesliga games for the Bavarian giants, has enjoyed a stunning career with the club winning seven league titles and a Champions League trophy.

Robben has enjoyed previous spells with the likes of Chelsea and Real Madrid and will now be looking ahead to the next chapter, after confirming he will not be hanging up his boots at the end of the season.

"I can say that this is my last year (at Bayern) and it is good like that," said Robben

"The club moves on and I may move on. It is the end of a very good and long period. I won't stop completely yet."

Bayern currently find themselves in a real battle to retain their Bundesliga crown, after what has been a difficult start to their season.

Robben's side find themselves in fourth place in the German top flight, with rivals Borussia Dortmund currently leading the way.

BVB hold an impressive nine-point lead over Bayern, who are 11/8 to win the league, while Dortmund are 4/6 to claim the title.

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Kovac backed to succeed

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has handed his backing to coach Niko Kovac who he says will be given funds to strengthen the squad next summer.

Bayern have endured a difficult start to the campaign and are fifth in the Bundesliga table, nine points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund after 12 matches.

Kovac left Eintracht Frankfurt to take charge of Bayern in the summer but his new side have struggled and the Croatian's woes have been made worse by the fact that his former club are currently third in the Bundesliga.

Hoeness remains upbeat about Bayern's future though, saying: "Next year, the older players may retire.

"The club will then have the room as well as the necessary capital to reinforce the team, so that we will be more than a match for every opponent in the Bundesliga and most international opponents. That must be the ambition."

Bayern have progressed to the knockout stages of the Champions League but have failed to win any of their last three Bundesliga matches.

Hoeness added: "We have a very, very good young coach who deserves a chance and we should all give him our support.

"There has been a close alliance between the team and the coach and there have been many discussions."

Bayern are 5/4 to win the Bundesliga title this season, while Borussia Dortmund can be backed at 4/6.

Alcacer seals Dortmund switch

Spain striker Paco Alcacer is looking forward to further success after turning his loan move from Barcelona to Borussia Dortmund into a permanent deal.

The 25-year-old has made a stunning start to life in the Bundesliga, scoring eight goals in just six appearances – only two of which have been starts.

And he has now agreed a deal running until the summer of 2023 with BVB, who top the Bundesliga by four points heading into the weekend action.

Alcacer, who had found first-team opportunities limited at the Camp Nou, told the official BVB website: "I'm very happy to be in Dortmund, at BVB and be part of this wonderful team.

"Dortmund was and remains totally the right decision for me. I'll give it everything to repay the trust placed in me with performances and goals."

Meanwhile, sporting director Michael Zorc added: "Paco is wholeheartedly committed to us, has integrated quickly and has become a core component of our squad.

"He's a real goalscorer who has great footballing ability and who has already decided some important games for us."

Alcacer and Dortmund are back in action after the international break when they head to the Opel Arena to take on Mainz on Saturday.

Last season this fixture ended in a 2-0 victory for the visitors, with their goals coming from Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shinji Kagawa.

A 2-0 win for BVB on Saturday is priced at 8/1, with Alcacer 11/10 to score at any time and 9/2 to net the first goal of the game.

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Sancho talks up Dortmund potential

Borussia Dortmund starlet Jadon Sancho believes his team are capable of winning major honours this season, both at home and in Europe.

Sancho was speaking after helping Die Schwarzgelben twice come from behind to secure a 3-2 home win over Bayern Munich and move four points clear at the top of the Bundesliga standings.

Dortmund have also started strongly in the Champions League and Sancho is clearly excited about what could lie ahead in the next few months.

He told the official Bundesliga website: "This result came from everyone working hard together. If we keep on doing this throughout the season, we could win big things.

"Obviously we'll celebrate, but then we'll forget about the game and think about the next one. We just have to keep working hard and focus on the next game.

"If we keep on doing this we've got a good chance of winning the league or, who knows, the Champions League. You never know."

England international Sancho has scored five goals in 17 appearances for Dortmund this season, while loan striker Paco Alcacer was the matchwinner against Bayern on Saturday.

The Spain international striker has netted nine goals in just eight appearances since his arrival from Barcelona, with his return of eight Bundesliga goals coming from a mere two starts and a further four appearances as a substitute.

Dortmund are now 10/11 to win the Bundesliga title this season, with Bayern available at 10/11 and RB Leipzig 100/1.

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Uth off the mark for Schalke

Schalke striker Mark Uth was a relieved man after finally scoring his first goal for the club following his summer arrival from Bundesliga rivals Hoffenheim.

The 27-year-old had previously failed to find the net in 14 appearances in all competitions for Die Konigsblauen, but broke hid duck with a late clincher in a 3-1 Bundesliga victory at home to Hannover on Saturday.

And Uth, who has won one cap for Germany, was happy to have repaid supporters for the backing they have continued to give him.

He told his club's official website: "I've finally scored. The fans have been very patient with me, which I'm so happy about.

"The fans were definitely as pleased as I was to finally get that goal. Nobody booed or whistled at me – they all backed me, which I'm very thankful for."

Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund Lucian Favre remains adamant that there is more to come from his side, who have started the season with a 15-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

A 1-0 win at Wolfsburg moved Die Schwarzgelben four points clear at the top of the Bundesliga table, but Favre is taking nothing for granted despite him enjoying the best-ever start by a Dortmund coach.

He told the club's official website: "We need to develop further, that's the most important thing. Almost everyone can improve further and as a team too we can get still get better both in technical and tactical terms.

"There's still a lot to do and we're focusing on the next game."

Dortmund can be backed at 11/4 to win the Bundesliga title this season, with Bayern Munich 2/7 and RB Leipzig 50/1.

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Nelson focused on the present

Loan striker Reiss Nelson says he will remain focused on continuing to impress with Hoffenheim and worry about his long-term future at a later date.

The 18-year-old Englishman has already scored four goals in four Bundesliga appearances for Die Kraichgauer, having joined Hoffenheim on a season-long loan deal from Arsenal.

And Nelson is content to live in the here and now and not concern himself about what lies ahead, with the talented forward having only made a total of 16 appearances for his parent club.

He told the official Bundesliga website: "At the moment I'm very happy here.

"I'm playing, I'm scoring, but I'm an Arsenal player at the end of the day, so I have to stay and do my job here. Then, wherever football takes me, I'll go.

"For me, it's making me (better) as a footballer and a person, so I'm just happy I'm taking the right steps."

Hoffenheim have made an inconsistent start to the new season, having lost four of their nine league games to lie in eighth place in the Bundesliga standings ahead of the weekend action.

In the Champions League they have drawn with both Shakhtar Donetsk and Lyon, while losing out 2-1 at home to Manchester City.

Last season Julian Nagelsmann's side finished in third place in the Bundesliga to secure a place in the Champions League group stage, having lost out to Liverpool in the play-off round 12 months earlier.

This term Die Kraichgauer are 5/2 to secure a top-four finish, with Bayer Leverkusen 3/1 and Werder Bremen 3/1.

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Hofmann remains in the moment

In-form Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Jonas Hofmann says he and his team-mates are not thinking ahead any further than to their next game.

Hofmann completed a hat-trick as Mainz were beaten 4-0 by Die Fohlen at Borussia-Park on Sunday, with the result seeing the hosts move up to second place in the Bundesliga table after eight round of games.

Gladbach are currently three points adrift of leaders Borussia Dortmund, but Hofmann is not getting carried away by what he knows only too well is only a small portion of the season as a whole.

He told his club's official website: "We're doing a lot of things right at the moment, and making the right decisions at the right times. That's why we are currently in second place.

"However, we know to be realistic when looking at the table. A lot of people are already dreaming of bigger things, but we've only played eight games.

"We are taking it one game at a time and that's helping us to play well at the moment, so we'll continue to move forward."

Monchengladbach are back in action on Friday evening when they head to the Schwarzwald-Stadion to take on Freiburg, who have won seven of their last eight home meetings with Die Fohlen.

Hofmann and co. are 11/8 to win the game on Friday and are 8/1 to do so by a 2-1 scoreline, with Gladbach 11/8 to secure a top-four finish in the Bundesliga come the end of the season.

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