Gomez maintains Stuttgart belief

Veteran VfB Stuttgart striker Mario Gomez has challenged his side to repeat what he felt was a decent performance in their 3-1 Bundesliga defeat to RB Leipzig.

Die Roten are currently down in 16th place in the Bundesliga standings, having earned just a single point from their last seven league games.

However, Gomez, who has scored five goals in 20 Bundesliga appearances so far this season, believes there were plenty of positives to take from their display on Saturday.

He told his club's official website: "This performance definitely gives us strength. We stood shoulder to shoulder with a very good opponent.

"We were aggressive at the back and created good opportunities up front. We need to keep playing like this in the coming weeks."

Meanwhile, head coach Markus Weinzierl also preferred to look on the bright side after another loss, adding: "We need to make sure we produce this type of performance for the whole 90 minutes and be more clinical in the coming weeks."

Stuttgart are back in league action on Friday evening, when they head to the Weser Stadium to take on Werder Bremen.

Die Roten claimed a 2-1 victory when the two sides met in Stuttgart in late September, with Gonzalo Castro netting the winner 15 minutes from time.

Stuttgart are 9/2 to secure a much-needed win on Friday evening, with the draw priced at 3/1, while the hosts are 8/1 to claim a 1-0 victory.

View all Soccer betting

Neuer close to Bayern return

Bayern Munich could be set for an injury boost with the news that Manuel Neuer has returned to training.

The goalkeeper missed last weekend's 3-1 loss at Bayer Leverkusen due to a thumb injury, with Sven Ulreich taking the gloves for the game at the BayArena.

Ulreich deputised for most of last season as Neuer battled an ankle problem and gave a somewhat downbeat assessment of his team-mate's recovery when quizzed after Saturday's match.

That prompted further doubts that the 32-year-old would miss the upcoming Champions League games against Liverpool but boss Nico Kovac suggested on Tuesday that the captain was back in training.

Wednesday sees Bayern face Hertha Berlin in the DFB-Pokal and Kovac says Neuer is keen to return in time to lead the team out at the Olympiastadion.

However, the boss has confirmed he will wait to speak to the medical team before making a call on the World Cup winner's participation. 

"Manuel is so far, so good," he said. "I think he wants to play immediately but we need the all-clear from the doctors, which we haven't had yet.

"We can't say anything concrete regarding tomorrow — we have to wait until after training."

Bayern are 1/3 to win in Berlin, with the draw 9/2 and Hertha 13/2 but Kovac may want to hold his number one back for longer to ensure he is fit for the Bundesliga run-in and the Champions League knockout rounds.

The Bavarians currently trail Borussia Dortmund by seven points following Saturday's defeat and are 1/1 to retain their league title.

View all Soccer betting

Sancho enjoying Dortmund life

Former Manchester City starlet Jadon Sancho is happy that he took the chance to join Borussia Dortmund, where his career has blossomed in recent times.

The 18-year-old forward opted to head to the Bundesliga outfit in August 2017 and has since become a regular for a BVB side who are in pole position to win the German league title this season.

Sancho's form, which has seen him score six times in 19 league appearances so far this term, has also been good enough to see him earn a senior England call-up, with the talented youngster having won three caps to date.

He told FourFourTwo: "Why Dortmund? It speaks for itself: youngsters get opportunities.

"You've got to thank Dortmund, because it's unheard of for a team that gets 80,000 fans at every home game to put so much faith in youngsters.

"It was crazy how many clubs wanted me – it shows how well you're doing – but I always felt Dortmund was right for me."

"A few people weren't sure when I first told them about Dortmund, but I felt this was the best journey for me. I like trying new things, so it didn't really faze me and look at how it's worked out now."

Dortmund are available at 4/5 to be crowned Bundesliga champions this season, while they are 3/1 to lift the DFB-Pokal.

BVB are also through to the last-16 of the Champions League, where they will take on Tottenham Hotspur.

View all Soccer betting

Hannover axe Breitenreiter

Struggling Hannover have axed head coach Andre Breitenreiter in the wake of Saturday's 5-1 defeat at Borussia Dortmund.

Only FC Nuremberg are below Hannover, who have failed to win any of their last eight matches, in the Bundesliga.

The 45-year-old was appointed Hannover boss in March 2017 and he guided the club to promotion to the Bundesliga that season.

They finished 13th last term but have only picked up two victories in their first 19 Bundesliga matches this season with the last coming in early November against Wolfsburg.

Assistant boss Volkan Bulut has also left Hannover, with club manager Horst Heldt saying: "This decision is extremely difficult for us and for me personally, because the co-operation between Andre and me has been extremely close and very trusting for the entire time.

"His name will always be synonymous with promotion in 2017. We are grateful for the work he and Volkan Bulut have done and their good co-operation."

Hannover are 9/2 to beat RB Leipzig on Friday and 16/1 to win the match from behind.

BVB hopeful over Reus return

Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund hope to have star forward Marco Reus back in action within the next couple of weeks.

Germany international Reus, who had previously played in every league game so far this season for BVB, was forced to miss the 1-0 victory at RB Leipzig on Saturday due to a knee problem sustained during training.

However, sporting director Michael Zorc is hopeful that Rues will be back in action in the very near future, telling ZDF: "We hope it is alight ligament strain and we hope that he won't be out for longer than one or two weeks."

Reus, 29, has scored 11 goals in 17 Bundesliga appearances this season, with his form a major reason why Dortmund are currently six points ahead of Bayern Munich at the top of the table.

Die Schwarzgelben are available at 1/1 to win the Bundesliga title this season, with reigning champions Bayern priced at 5/6.

Meanwhile, Zorc also dismissed suggestions that the versatile Julian Weigl could be allowed to leave Dortmund this month, amid talk of strong interest from Paris Saint-Germain.

Former BVB head coach Thomas Tuchel, now I charge at PSG, also reacted coolly to suggestions that a move for Weigl was in the pipeline, adding: "I cannot talk about players who play for another club.

"Julian was a player of mine, but he is still a Dortmund player today. We are working hard to bring in a defensive midfielder."

View all Soccer betting

Bayern land WC winner Pavard

Bayern Munich sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has confirmed the club have signed France international Benjamin Pavard, who will join the Bavarians at the end of the season.

The 22-year-old has made great progress at Stuttgart and rose to prominence last summer as he helped Les Bleus win the World Cup in Russia.

Having agreed a five-year deal at the Allianz Arena, Salihamidzic is delighted to have Pavard heading to Bayern this summer.

“We’ve signed Benjamin Pavard for 1 July 2019. He’s put pen to paper on a five-year contract. He’s a young player and a world champion. We’re very glad and proud to have gained such a player for FC Bayern,” Salihamidzic said.

Pavard will add much-needed quality and versatility to the Bayern defence, as the youngster can play at both centre-back and right-back.

The reigning Bundesliga champions are currently in away from Germany in Doha at a warm-weather training camp during a winter break and return to action on 18th January at Hoffenheim.

Bayern are 11/10 to win the Bundesliga title this season, while frontrunners Borussia Dortmund are 8/11 to claim the German crown.

View all Soccer betting

Bayern land World Cup winner Pavard

Bayern Munich sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has confirmed the club have signed France international Benjamin Pavard, who will join the Bavarians at the end of the season.

The 22-year-old has made great progress at Stuttgart and rose to prominence last summer as he helped Les Bleus win the World Cup in Russia.

Having agreed a five-year deal at the Allianz Arena, Salihamidzic is delighted to have Pavard heading to Bayern this summer.

“We’ve signed Benjamin Pavard for 1 July 2019. He’s put pen to paper on a five-year contract. He’s a young player and a world champion. We’re very glad and proud to have gained such a player for FC Bayern,” Salihamidzic said.

Pavard will add much-needed quality and versatility to the Bayern defence, as the youngster can play at both centre-back and right-back.

The reigning Bundesliga champions are currently in away from Germany in Doha at a warm-weather training camp during a winter break and return to action on 18th January at Hoffenheim.

Bayern are 11/10 to win the Bundesliga title this season, while frontrunners Borussia Dortmund are 8/11 to claim the German crown.

View all Soccer betting

Schalke rue Naldo departure

Schalke officials have admitted that it was with a heavy heart that they allowed veteran central defender Naldo to leave the club to join Ligue 1 strugglers Monaco.

The 36-year-old Brazil international had been with the Gelsenkirchen club since the summer of 2016, having previously impressed in the Bundesliga with both Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg.

However, he has now opted to take up a new challenge in France, agreeing a deal running until the summer of 2020.

Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel told the club's official website: "It was not easy for us to agree to this transfer, because Naldo's performances have played a huge role in our success stories, especially last season.

"On account of his service to the club, we agreed to fulfil his wish to change clubs one more time in his career.

"Naldo has enriched our club in the past two and a half years – on the pitch as a defensive leader, a team player and a goalscorer.

"Off the pitch as a person, a top bloke with a big heart, the kind you don't see every day, not just in football."

The four-time capped stopper enjoyed DFB-Pokal success with both Werder and Wolfsburg during his time in Germany, racking up in excess of 350 Bundesliga appearances.

Monaco are currently down in 19th place in Ligue 1, having won just three of the 18 league games they have played so far this season.

They are 10/3 to be relegated this season, with Caen priced at 13/8 and Amiens available at 6/4.

View all Soccer betting

Lewandowski committed to Bayern

Striker Robert Lewandowski has admitted that he could well opt to finish his career with Bayern Munich, having put to bed talk of a possible big-money exit.

The 30-year-old Poland international has scored 173 goals in 219 appearances in all competitions for Bayern, having joined the club from Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2014.

He has helped the Bavarian giants to win four Bundesliga titles, completing a domestic double in 2015/16 by also claiming the DFB-Pokal.

His form has seen him linked with interest from the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus, but Lewandowski – who is under contract with Bayern until the summer of 2021 – has now suggested that thoughts of a transfer are gone from his thinking.

He told Sport Bild."There's a very good chance I'll be here for a long time yet. I'm not thinking about going anywhere else.

"Since putting the rumours to rest, my heart has been 100 per cent with Bayern. I fully identify with the club and I could definitely see myself ending my career at Bayern."

Lewandowski scored ten Bundesliga goals in the first half of the season, placing him two behind joint leading scorers Paco Alcacer of Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt frontman Luka Jovic.

The Pole is available at 10/11 to finish the season as the leading goalscorer in the Bundesliga, with Alcacer priced at 9/2 and Jovic 9/2.

View all Soccer betting

Kovac: We’re back on track

Bayern Munich head coach Niko Kovac is refusing to panic even though his team are six points behind Borussia Dortmund at the halfway point of the season.

Bayern are second at the winter break after winning their last five matches and Kovac is keen to extend their successful run when the campaign restarts next month.

Bayern have won the Bundesliga title for the last six years and are 11/10 to emerge victorious once again in 2018/19 while Borussia Dortmund can be backed at 8/11.

Former Eintracht Frankfurt coach Kovac said: "I feel we're the Bayern from the start of the season again, that we've restored our ease and confidence – and that the lads are fired up to give it everything and put up a fierce fight against Borussia Dortmund.

"It was a half year with many facets, very emotional, and certainly not boring. We had many good periods but also had to weather difficult ones. However, taken altogether we're on a good track, and at the end of the day our conclusion to the six months is positive.

"Of course we wished for a good start. We worked very hard for it during pre-season. We dominated the matches.

"Unfortunately we then had a little barren spell. The coaching staff thought about it a lot: the reasons why. Maybe we allowed ourselves to be influenced too much by what was suggested: that we're unbeatable and that we'll clinch the championship title again with a huge cushion."