Manuel Neuer moved to end his public exchange with Marc-Andre ter Stegen as Niko Kovac gave a strong endorsement of the Bayern Munich man's form.

Barcelona goalkeeper Ter Stegen this week described it as "inappropriate" for Neuer to criticise him for speaking out about a lack of international opportunities.

Germany captain Neuer started ahead of Ter Stegen during the latest round of Euro 2020 qualifiers and accused his positional rival of putting himself before the team when he expressed frustration with the selection order.

Joachim Low continues to insist the younger keeper's time will come and the experienced Neuer sought to defuse the tension on Tuesday.

"We always talk to each other," Neuer said when asked whether he had made contact with Ter Stegen.

"I don't really want to say anything about it anymore, it was something I said after the [Northern Ireland] game and I've been approached several times now because of that.

"I gave a statement and now I'm going to focus on the games, on the club and on the pitch. That applies to Germany as well as Bayern Munich. You won't hear any more statements from me."

Though under pressure to hold his place for Germany, Neuer faces no such concern at club level.

Bayern boss Kovac has been pleased with the 33-year-old's recent performances and his handling of the Ter Stegen situation.

"I think it was a very clear statement from Marc and then from Manuel," Kovac said.

"I know it's all blown out of proportion. I understand it, I'm not stupid, I know why it's all blown out of proportion, but really I think we should leave these guys alone to do their jobs and they're both doing a fantastic job.

"I said this last season and it's confirmed more and more: Manuel is in absolutely top shape.

"He gave us a sensational performance against RB Leipzig and and he did so for Germany.

"It's difficult and unfortunate for Marc, he's a world-class goalkeeper as well, and unfortunately there is only one goalkeeper per country."

Neuer and Bayern are preparing to host Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League on Wednesday, their first European outing since losing to Liverpool in the round of 16 last season.

"We were unlucky to go out against the Champions League winners," Kovac said.

"Now it's a new season, everything is back to square one and we want to survive the group stage. I am convinced we will progress further than last season."

Marc-Andre ter Stegen says it was "inappropriate" for Manuel Neuer to criticise him for speaking out about a desire for more game time for Germany.

Barcelona goalkeeper Ter Stegen described it as a "massive blow" not to feature for his country against Netherlands and Northern Ireland in the international break.

The 27-year-old has had to serve as back-up to Neuer for most of his international career, despite increasing calls for him to be given the number one spot ahead of the Bayern Munich star.

Neuer accused Ter Stegen of being unhelpful by expressing his frustrations in public and suggested he had shown something of a lack of respect towards Bernd Leno and Kevin Trapp, who likewise are battling for more Germany playing time.

Ter Stegen, who has returned to his homeland for Tuesday's Champions League clash between Barca and Borussia Dortmund, thinks Neuer has been unfair but wants to draw a line under the issue.

He told a news conference: "I would like to say something about this. You cannot say we have competition for the goalkeeper position and then expect the players to be happy with the situation if they don't play. Football is about happiness but also disappointment.

"Manuel Neuer does not need to comment on my personal feelings and measure them, I'd say. It's my own opinion. If you think about the last few years, you realise that I always behaved well and what Neuer and other people have said is not fair.

"His remarks were inappropriate but I don't want to say much more. I want to end this controversy."

Ter Stegen's immediate priority is to help sure up Barca's defence, with the Catalans having conceded seven goals in their opening four LaLiga games of 2019-20.

"We're trying to stop the goals going in but things haven't come off," he said. "It's not what we expected. We have to improve. There have been mistakes that we can easily correct. We've spoken about it."

Marc-Andre ter Stegen has expressed frustration with being overlooked by Germany head coach Joachim Low.

Barcelona goalkeeper Ter Stegen was on the bench for both of Germany's Euro 2020 qualifiers during the international break.

Manuel Neuer conceded four goals in a Group C defeat at home to Netherlands, but then kept a clean sheet in an away win against joint-leaders Northern Ireland.

Ter Stegen deputised for Neuer during the 2018-19 season when the Bayern Munich captain was sidelined long-term due to injury.

Neuer has regained the gloves since returning to full fitness, though, and Ter Stegen accepts he is in a frustrating situation.

"It is not easy to find an explanation as I am giving the best account of myself in each game to make the decision more difficult," Ter Stegen said.

"I am trying [to become first-choice] anyway. But this trip with the national team has been a tough blow for me."

Ter Stegen, 27, has played 22 times for his country, who are on track to qualify for Euro 2020 after joining Northern Ireland on 12 points after five games.

Bayern Munich midfielder Leon Goretzka is set for a spell on the sidelines following an operation on his left thigh.

The former Schalke man underwent surgery on Wednesday to treat a bad bruise after initially sustaining damage last month.

Goretzka aggravated the issue on Germany duty and was forced to skip his country's Euro 2020 qualifiers against Netherlands and Northern Ireland.

"Bayern are set to be without midfielder Leon Goretzka for a period of time," read a club statement.

"The 24-year-old suffered another injury on his left thigh during Germany's preparations for their match against Netherlands last week.

"He was subsequently forced to undergo an operation on Wednesday to remove a haematoma. The surgery was successful."

Goretzka missed Bayern's opening two Bundesliga games of 2019-20 but returned to the bench for the 6-1 victory over Mainz at the end of August.

He made 30 league appearances for Niko Kovac's side last season, scoring eight goals.

Germany head coach Joachim Low was relieved to claim a 2-0 win over a "very difficult" Northern Ireland in Euro 2020 qualifying at Windsor Park.

The 2014 World Cup winners were made to work hard for the three points in Monday's Group C qualifier, with second-half goals from Marcel Halstenberg and Serge Gnabry proving the difference.

Conor Washington missed good opportunities for Northern Ireland as the hosts caused real difficulty against a Germany defence containing the relatively inexperienced Halstenberg and Lukas Klostermann.

Low was impressed with Northern Ireland's performance and was happy to see the way his players adapted their performance to nullify the threat.

"It was a very difficult 90 minutes against a Northern Ireland team that played very attacking football," he told a news conference. 

"In the first half, it was very difficult for us because we were pressed very hard. We improved in the second half but it was a very difficult game and we're pleased to have won the match.

"It's a team that hasn't played together and they must learn to play themselves into form and get to know each other's style. We'll be looking at each stage of our game as we move forward.

"They tried to break up our play and they found gaps, especially in the first half. After half-time, Northern Ireland played with more tempo and speed but we responded. In the first half, we gave them too much room. They're strong in the air and we have to adjust our game to this style of play.

"I think we have good potential for the future and it's about working with this team to bring them through."

Julian Brandt saw improvement on Germany's 4-2 loss to Netherlands last Friday but also accepted there is room for improvement.

"We have some problems to explore," said the Borussia Dortmund midfielder.

"We played better than on Friday, but not everything was perfect going forward, especially with that final pass. That improved in the second half and we could have scored a couple more.

"Some things can be improved – being more clinical is one of those."

Germany are level with Northern Ireland on 12 points at the top of Group C, three points above Netherlands, who have a game in hand.

Low's Germany face Estonia in their next qualifier in October.

Michael O'Neill praised his players for a "magnificent effort" against Germany but accepted Northern Ireland will see their 2-0 defeat as a missed opportunity.

Joachim Low's side moved level on 12 points with Northern Ireland in Euro 2020 qualifying Group C on Monday thanks to second-half goals from Marcel Halstenberg and Serge Gnabry.

The home side missed good chances through Conor Washington at Windsor Park until Halstenberg's superb strike three minutes into the second half broke their resistance, with Gnabry adding a second deep into injury time.

O'Neill could not fault the spirit of his players but was frustrated they did not make the most of their chances.

"They gave everything they had," he told Sky Sports. "In the first half they were magnificent, should have been ahead, and when we reflect on the game it was a missed opportunity.

"We were punished at the beginning of the second half. Maybe Germany lifted a gear as well and it's a magnificent goal from the full-back. To be fair to the lads, they came again, we created a couple of chances, but it wasn't to be.

"We managed to stop them building the game and got joy off pressing and winning the ball higher up the pitch. It's very difficult to do that against this level of opposition. I think they had words in their own dressing room at half-time and they have intelligent game players.

"It's a massive jump for a lot of our players to play at this level. I'm proud of what they gave. We have to give a level of performance against the Netherlands and Germany now and, if we get the chance to go ahead, we have to take it."

Northern Ireland face Netherlands in Rotterdam in their next qualifier on October 10.

A fine strike from Marcel Halstenberg ended Northern Ireland's spirited resistance and helped Germany to a much-needed 2-0 win in Euro 2020 qualifying on Monday.

Having been beaten 4-2 at home by Netherlands last Friday, another defeat at Windsor Park would have left Joachim Low's side six points behind Northern Ireland at the top of Group C after five matches.

The 2014 World Cup winners were frustrated in the first half as Michael O'Neill's side caused real problems with some high pressing and strong defending, while Manuel Neuer had to make an important save from Conor Washington.

However, Halstenberg's first international goal three minutes into the second half and Serge Gnabry's late strike made the difference, as Germany breathed new life into their qualification campaign.

There have been calls for Neuer to be dropped for Marc-Andre ter Stegen, but the Bayern Munich keeper justified his place in the team with a fine one-on-one save from Washington.

Germany were being pressed into mistakes in the early stages but began to recover their poise, and Northern Ireland were twice fortunate to escape shouts for handball in the box from Jonny Evans and Craig Cathcart.

Jonathan Tah - on for the injured Matthias Ginter - did enough to block when it seemed certain Washington would turn a loose ball in, and Bailey Peacock-Farrell reacted moments later to deny Timo Werner from six yards.

Peacock-Farrell saved brilliantly to deny Lukas Klostermann as Germany started the second half well, but the breakthrough came barely a minute later, as Halstenberg's brilliant half-volley from 18 yards out left the Burnley keeper with no chance.

Werner was denied again by Peacock-Farrell and, as a tiring Northern Ireland made a late push, Gnabry ran onto Kai Havertz's throughball and drilled a clever reverse finish past Peacock-Farrell from his left-hand post.

What does it mean? Group C scrap is hotting up

Germany really needed a result here after their defeat to Netherlands last time out, and their win puts them level with Northern Ireland on 12 points at the top of the table.

Ronald Koeman's side are three points further back but, with a game in hand to come next month, they are very much part of this intriguing three-way battle.

Fantastic Peacock-Farrell

He might not have played a minute for Burnley, but the 22-year-old was exemplary for his country and kept them in the game as Germany threatened to take control.

Werner invisible

Werner had the worst passing accuracy on his team, underlining how ineffective he was in linking the attack, and he failed to make the most of a clear-cut opening before the break.

What's next?

Germany host a friendly against Argentina on October 9 before their next Euro 2020 qualifier away to Estonia four days later. Next up for Northern Ireland is a potentially pivotal trip to Netherlands on October 10.

Ilkay Gundogan will miss Germany's Euro 2020 qualifier against Northern Ireland due to illness.

The Manchester City midfielder will return to his club rather than remaining in Belfast with the Germany squad, who take on the Euro 2020 qualifying Group C leaders on Monday.

Germany revealed Gundogan was suffering with a cold via Twitter, signing off the post with the line: "Get well soon, Ilkay!"

Gundogan came on as a second-half substitute for Germany in their 4-2 home loss to Netherlands on Friday, a result that leaves them three points behind their next opponents in the table.

His condition will be monitored by City, who travel to Carrow Road to face Norwich City in Premier League action next Saturday.

The 28-year-old has featured in all four league matches for Pep Guardiola's side this season, starting in the 2-2 home draw with Tottenham and the 3-1 away triumph at Bournemouth.

Manuel Neuer will call time on his career as soon as he feels Germany and Bayern Munich no longer need him.

Neuer, 33, has been first-choice Germany goalkeeper for the best part of a decade, while he has been of similar importance to Bayern since joining them in 2011.

But the Schalke academy product has endured injury problems more frequently in the past three seasons, missing almost the entirety of 2017-18 with a broken foot.

Neuer was also absent for a chunk of last term with thumb and calf issues, though he remains the go-to man between the posts for club and country, starting all but one of Germany's 11 post-World Cup matches and Bayern's three games of the new Bundesliga campaign.

Once that regularity disappears, however, Neuer expects to retire because he will find it a challenge to remain motivated.

"When you are no longer needed and you feel it, it is difficult to get up and motivate [yourself] each day," Neuer told Welt am Sonntag. "When your experience is needed and your players need you, that drives you on.

"I have the feeling that I am very much needed here in the national team and that everyone is happy that I'm here. It's clear that I have to show it in my performance.

"[My durability] is a result of my love for this sport. It excites me a lot when I'm on the pitch training or playing. It's a great fulfilment for me. I'm 33 years old, but when I'm on the pitch I always feel that I can improve on my goalkeeping.

"I'm still as annoyed with things that don't work out as they did nine or 10 years ago and I'm still happy about things that work out.

"These are signs that mean something to me. Namely, how ambitious I am still. [I want to] play as long as my body can do it, I'm having fun and I'm needed.

"At a young age you don't have to do so much to keep fit. It's changing. I've already noticed that, so I pay close attention to what I do and how I approach things."

Ronald Koeman saluted Netherlands for the resilience they displayed in Friday's hard-fought 4-2 win away to Germany in Euro 2020 qualifying.

Netherlands came out on top in a thrilling contest to keep their Euro 2020 qualification hopes well and truly alive, though it was rarely straightforward in Hamburg.

Serge Gnabry's early goal had hosts Germany in the lead until just before the hour, only for Frenkie de Jong and a Jonathan Tah own goal to put Netherlands in front.

Toni Kroos equalised from the spot, but the Dutch simply had too much for Die Mannschaft, with Donyell Malen's first international goal and Georginio Wijnaldum's late strike sealing the win.

That moves Netherlands on to six points in Group C, though they are still six adrift of Northern Ireland, who have played a game more.

"The team that has done the most to win has earned it," Koeman said.  "The Germans also had a number of good chances, but I found Germany waiting [for opportunities].

"We played to win the game more than they did. We kept our patience and while Germany had two good chances after the break, they maybe grew a little tired of closing all the gaps. In the second half they could no longer walk.

"In the first half we were not dangerous, we built it up a bit better in the second half. It turned out well.

"We have resilience, that's great in this team. We have faith and are at peace."

Netherlands return to action on Monday away to Estonia, while Northern Ireland and Germany – the top two – face each other.

Joachim Low criticised Germany's inability to follow his tactical plan in a "disappointing" 4-2 Euro 2020 qualifying loss at home to Netherlands.

Late goals from debutant Donyell Malen and Georginio Wijnaldum settled a classic clash at Hamburg's Volksparkstadion on Friday, earning Ronald Koeman's side revenge for their 3-2 home loss to Germany in March, in which Nico Schulz scored a 90th-minute winner.

Victory for Netherlands boosts their hopes of qualifying for next year's tournament by moving them to six points from three Group C games, though they remain three points behind Germany and a further three back from leaders Northern Ireland.

Germany go to Windsor Park in Belfast on Monday with Low accepting his team's display against the Oranje, conceding four goals after the interval, was not up to scratch.

"I am disappointed. We played under our technical ability," he told RTL.

"Even though we were in the lead at 1-0, we never had the feeling that we had the game under control. We lost too many balls.

"The plan was to get more control. In the first half we ran after them too much.

"But Netherlands became more powerful and we could not free ourselves. The Dutch could move up, we played high balls.

"That was not our understanding of the game, what we really want."

Germany only had 39.2 per cent of the ball before the break, though turning the tables with 59.5 per cent of possession in the second half resulted in them being hit on the break repeatedly.

"We did not play well in the first half and we had very little possession," he added. "It cannot be our game to have so little possession.

"There was a bad game today, we have to learn from it and make things better again in Northern Ireland. We really wanted to win the game today and we did that very badly today."

Donyell Malen scored on his international debut and Georginio Wijnaldum struck in added time as Netherlands beat Germany 4-2 away in a classic clash in Euro 2020 qualifying on Friday.

Nico Schulz struck late to give Germany a 3-2 victory in Amsterdam earlier in the group stage but the tables were turned at Hamburg's Volksparkstadion.

Toni Kroos' penalty levelled the game at 2-2 but Malen's volley wrapped up a clinical break to give Ronald Koeman's side the lead before Wijnaldum made sure of the points.

Manuel Neuer denied Memphis Depay in a frantic first few minutes and the deadlock was broken at the other end moments later.

Joshua Kimmich's pass sent Lukas Klostermann through on goal only for his shot to be hit straight into Jasper Cillessen's chest, with Serge Gnabry on hand to turn in the rebound.

Germany continued to dominate and only Cillessen's excellent 42nd-minute save from Marco Reus ensured the score remained 1-0 at the break.

Neuer pushed away a Quincy Promes drive after the restart but the Bayern goalkeeper was beaten in the 59th minute, Frenkie de Jong firing home after Jonathan Tah missed Ryan Babel's cross.

Tah then bundled into his own goal as Netherlands moved in front, though Germany were quickly back on level terms when Kroos converted a penalty that was harshly given for an inadvertent handball in the box by Matthijs de Ligt.

But just like in March there would be late drama, Wijnaldum teeing up debutant Malen for a fine finish then converting Depay's brilliant low cross himself to seal a fine win that leaves Northern Ireland three points clear at the top of the section.


What does it mean? Hopes alive for Koeman's men

Defeat in Hamburg would have been a blow for Netherlands' hopes of reaching next year's European Championship, but Group C is shaping up beautifully as teams approach the midway point of their qualifying campaigns. Germany remain in a strong position despite this loss.


De Jong off the mark

Not only did De Jong score his first Netherlands goal, the Barcelona midfielder dictated play in midfield on what was only his 10th international appearance. It is a year exactly since De Jong made his Oranje debut, but the 22-year-old is already arguably the key man for his country.


Tah at fault for two goals

Not only did Tah slip in the build-up to the Netherlands equaliser, he then turned in the goal that first put them in front. It was a seven-minute spell to forget for the Bayer Leverkusen defender.


What's next?

Group leaders Northern Ireland host Germany in a crunch clash on Monday, the same day Netherlands look to give their campaign a major boost when they travel to Estonia.

Virgil van Dijk backed Netherlands team-mate Matthijs de Ligt to be unaffected by a shaky Serie A debut for Juventus.

Former Ajax defender De Ligt received criticism for his performance in Juve's dramatic 4-3 victory over Napoli on Saturday.

The 20-year-old played alongside Leonardo Bonucci due to Giorgio Chiellini's anterior cruciate ligament injury but struggled to cope with Napoli's rampant attack in the second half and was partly at fault for all three goals Juve conceded.

Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman has defended the €75million centre-back, however, and Liverpool star Van Dijk echoed those sentiments.

"I saw Matthijs arrive very normally. Nothing was wrong," UEFA Men's Player of the Year Van Dijk told a news conference ahead of Netherlands' Euro 2020 qualifier with Germany.

"Everybody that knows him also knows that he always stays calm in these kind of situations.

"Of course, I spoke to him. But we don't need to tell each other a lot. I think it's also something you only talk about when you see each other for the first time again.

"After that, the focus is on the future and the match in front of us as a pairing. So that's what we did."

De Ligt's former club-mate Frenkie de Jong also switched to a European heavyweight in the off season by joining LaLiga champions Barcelona, though the midfielder has been used in a slightly different role to the one he played for Ajax and typically occupies for the Netherlands.

"No, not at all. Those guys are amazing, they know that and we do too," Van Dijk said when asked if extra work was required to accommodate the duo in Netherlands' system.

"I think they will show why they are so important to us once again."

Koeman, meanwhile, refuted the suggestion Netherlands will be feeling extra pressure following their 3-2 home defeat to Germany in March.

"There's always pressure on us. Especially now against Germany," Koeman said. "From the outside, it may seem as though we have some pressure on our shoulders, because of our most recent meeting.

"We still have some spare games. I believe we can take a big leap with a good result against Germany tomorrow. In that case, the rest of the qualification will be a bit easier. If not, reaching the Euros should still be our main target, of course."

Giannis Antetokounmpo was in sensational form as Greece booked their place in the FIBA World Cup second round, while the United States completed a clean sweep in Group E.

Greece won a qualification shoot-out against New Zealand 103-97 to follow Brazil out of Group F, the South American side making it three straight victories by overcoming Montenegro 84-73.

After needing overtime to see off Turkey last time out, Team USA were back on song as they hammered Japan 98-45.

Australia and France booked top spot in their respective groups with wins over Lithuania and Dominican Republic, while Germany and Canada got off the mark.

 

USA BACK ON TRACK

Team USA had five players in double figures for scoring as they comfortably saw off Japan in Shanghai.

Jaylen Brown had a game-high 20 points and Kemba Walker added 15 and eight assists in a routine victory for Gregg Popovich's side.

They will face tricky encounters against Greece and Brazil in the second round.

Turkey were unable to follow the USA out of Group E, as Czech Republic advanced at their expense courtesy of a 91-76 victory in their meeting.

 

GIANNIS GETS GREECE GOING

Having struggled to make his mark in Greece's opening two matches, Antetokounmpo ensured their campaign in China was not derailed in their first-round finale.

The Milwaukee Bucks forward posted a brilliant 24 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two steals to ensure Corey Webster's 31 points for New Zealand came in vain.

Defeat for the Tall Blacks meant rivals Australia qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games as the best ranked team from Oceania.

 

HISTORY FOR AUSTRALIA

The Boomers made it three straight wins at the start of a World Cup campaign for the first time in their history with an 87-82 victory over Lithuania.

Aron Baynes contributed 21 points and 13 assists for his first double-double in the competition, while Patty Mills scored 23 off eight-of-16 shooting.

The victory ensured Australia topped Group H ahead of Lithuania, with Nick Nurse's Canada taking third following an 82-60 defeat of Senegal.

Cory Joseph was key to Canada's success, combining 24 points with three assists and two steals.

Toni Kroos says he could give up Germany duty after next year's European Championships.

The Real Madrid midfielder was one of the key players as Germany won the World Cup in 2014.

But Joachim Low's men have failed to follow up that success, losing to France in the Euro 2016 semi-finals and seeing their World Cup defence end early in Russia.

Kroos, 29, is already thinking about whether Euro 2020 could be his final international competition.

"After the tournament it will be a good moment to think about it," Kroos told a news conference.

"I will not kill myself if I end my career without having won a European Championship."

Kroos and Germany continue their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign at home to Netherlands in Group C on Friday.

Low, whose side have a 100 per cent record after three games, will be without Kroos' fellow midfielder Leon Goretzka.

The Bayern Munich midfielder has left the Germany camp early due to a thigh injury.

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