Robert Lewandowski felt Bayern Munich were not at their best in the 3-1 DFB-Pokal win over fourth-tier Energie Cottbus.

Lewandowski opened his account for the season with a close-range finish at Stadion der Freundschaft, where Kingsley Coman and Leon Goretzka were also on target.

Goretzka fouled Berkan Taz to give away a stoppage-time penalty that the same player converted – a moment in keeping with some other moments of lacklustre play from Niko Kovac's men

"I think we showed what we want to do. I'm glad we won," Lewandowski said.

"Maybe it was not an amazing game for our side, but we had to do our job."

Captain Neuer also feels Bayern, who lost 2-0 to rivals Borussia Dortmund in the DFL-Supercup, have room to improve before Friday's Bundesliga opener against Hertha Berlin.

"We should have passed the ball a little bit quicker in the first half but, all-in-all, we should be satisfied," he said.

"I just spoke to their goalkeeper [Lennart Moser], he did a really good job and that's why we did not score more goals.

"There are still some things to improve and it's never easy to know where you're standing before the league kicks off. I'm quite positive. We will see what happens on Friday."

Lewandowski, who finished last term as the Bundesliga's top scorer for the fourth time in the past six seasons, added: "It's been a long time between the last game in the Bundesliga and now and I think it will be a great night in Munich."

David Wagner has named Alexander Nubel as Schalke's new captain as the goalkeeper continues to follow in Manuel Neuer's footsteps.

Nubel made 18 Bundesliga starts last season and enters the new campaign as the undisputed number one following Ralf Fahrmann's move to Norwich City on a season-long loan.

The 22-year-old will also don the armband, which Neuer did for Schalke before moving to Bayern Munich eight years ago.

Comparisons have been drawn between the pair and Bayern are said to have a high opinion of Germany Under-21 international Nubel.

Head coach Wagner also confirmed defender Benjamin Stambouli and midfielder Omar Mascarell as joint vice-captains.

"I'm very excited that these three will lead our team during the new season," the former Huddersfield Town boss said.

Bayern Munich captain Manuel Neuer has declared himself fresh and pain-free after two seasons tainted by injury.

Germany goalkeeper Neuer battled thumb and calf problems last term after missing almost the entire 2017-18 season due to a metatarsal fracture.

Rumours of retirement spread during April but the 33-year-old dismissed that possibility and regained fitness in time for the DFB-Pokal triumph over RB Leipzig in late May.

Three pre-season appearances have followed, giving the World Cup winner confidence for the campaign ahead.

"I feel really good right now," Neuer told the official Bundesliga website.

"I'm not in any pain and can take part in everything we're doing. I'm really looking forward to the new season."

Neuer's authoritative presence on the pitch will be crucial for the Bundesliga champions following the loss of several experienced players.

Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Rafinha and Mats Hummels have left since the end of last season, making space for new leaders to emerge.

"We've got a lot of players who are established and know each other well, but also some guys who will have bigger roles to play because of the departures," Neuer said.

"They have to prove they can take on leadership roles."

Eden Hazard made his Real Madrid debut as the LaLiga giants were beaten 3-1 by Bayern Munich at the International Champions Cup in Houston.

Hazard wore the Madrid jersey for the first time since his big-money move from Chelsea, while fellow recruits Luka Jovic, Ferland Mendy and Rodrygo Goes also made their bows for Zinedine Zidane's side.

But Corentin Tolisso, Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry stole the show as Bayern put Madrid to the sword in the second half, which saw Zidane make 11 changes at the interval.

Tolisso opened the scoring in the 15th minute and Bayern completely dominated in the second half, with substitutes Lewandowski and Gnabry condemning Madrid to defeat in their ICC opener on Saturday.

Madrid did have something to celebrate when Rodrygo capped his debut with a stunning 84th-minute free-kick after Sven Ulreich was sent off for bringing down the former Santos youngster.

Gareth Bale was left out of the Madrid squad amid ongoing uncertainty over his future, with the Welshman linked to Bayern. While there was no room for Bale, Jovic, Rodrygo and Mendy were on the bench.

It was an entertaining and end-to-end first half, with Bayern's Manuel Neuer the busier of the two goalkeepers at NRG Stadium.

After Neuer managed to make a goal-line save to deny Karim Benzema in the 11th minute, Bayern broke the deadlock four minutes later via Tolisso.

A low cross from Kingsley Coman found a way through to Tolisso, whose initial shot was stopped on the line by Thibaut Courtois, but the Frenchman made no mistake with the rebound.

Madrid huffed and puffed in search of an equaliser – Benzema, who failed to capitalise on a pair of consecutive close-range chances, in the thick of the action but unable to put the ball over the line.

Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric and Hazard also had opportunities for Madrid prior to half-time, however, Bayern managed to preserve their advantage.

Madrid controlled possession early in the second half but Bayern were a threat in attack and the German giants sent a warning when an unmarked Thiago Alcantara drove into the box, however he was unable to direct Coman's cross on target approaching the hour mark.

That warning went unheeded as centre-back Niklas Sule picked out Lewandowski with a ball over Madrid's defence in the 67th minute and the Polish striker produced a stunning piece of skill to control it before turning and finishing into the bottom corner.

Gnabry completed the rout two minutes later when the German found himself unmarked in the area and he had time to take a touch and fire a half-volley past Keylor Navas.

Bayern ended the match with 10 men after Ulreich was red carded for a foul on Rodrygo outside the area in the 81st minute following Joshua Kimmich's sloppy back-pass and the Madrid signing converted his own free-kick to pull a goal back.

Bayern Munich are taking a patient approach in the transfer market, confident they can still compete, according to Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

The Bundesliga champions have already brought in Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez, the latter in a club-record €80million deal.

But further recruitments are needed, particularly with Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben having departed, and Bayern have so far been frustrated in their pursuit of the likes of Leroy Sane.

Club chairman Rummenigge remains confident, though, content to maintain a watching brief for the time being.

"Internationally, the competition is greater and the market has become more global," he told a news conference. "Nevertheless, Bayern still have much to offer. We have a beautiful city, a nice stadium.

"But you have to say the buzz is different. We are speaking in the nine-digit range almost as if it is normal.

"There are almost two months left until the transfer market closes, and these two months will bring many more uncertainties.

"Everything is waiting for the dominoes to fall and then there will be this effect. Then let's wait and see what Bayern will do."

Asked specifically about top target Sane, Rummenigge said: "The status is that he comes back from vacation this week and did not want to talk during the vacation time.

"Now you will have to wait in peace and quiet to see if something moves in this direction.

"It is well known that we are still looking for a wide player. We lost Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, two players who have shaped the face of Bayern."

Bayern must also take care of the future of stalwart Manuel Neuer, whose agent has questioned the club's ambition.

However, Rummenigge defended the Germany goalkeeper.

"I had a telephone call with Manuel Neuer this morning," he said. "Thomas Kroth [Neuer's agent] was not his mouthpiece, this was a purely private opinion of Kroth.

"We took note of that, I found it a bit strange. So far, we have always had a serious and good relationship with him."

Rummenigge added: "It is very important that we work with a clear mind, a cool head and patience. I am not nervous in any way, nor are my colleagues.

"At the end of the day, we will have a team that will compete very, very competitively in all three competitions. We will have to make some transfers, but our goals do not change.

"We have brought in top people like Lucas and Pavard. I do not want to lower expectations. I can tell our fans not to worry about having a team that will not do a great job."

Lothar Matthaus has accused Manuel Neuer of unacceptable behaviour following comments made by the goalkeeper's agent over his future at Bayern Munich.

Neuer has been first choice at Bayern when fit but is said to be considering a move away from the Allianz Arena, citing what he perceives to be a lack of ambition shown by the German giants in the transfer market.

The player’s agent, Thomas Kroth, told Suddeutsche Zeitung that Bayern have fallen too far behind their major European rivals and the 33-year-old may have to join a new team if he is to win the Champions League for a second time in his career.

"He wants to win Euro 2020 and he wants to win the Champions League again," Kroth said.

"Manuel is success-oriented. My impression is that the gap to the top four English top teams is already serious and the Munich squad is currently not yet as competitive or set up to tackle Manuel's goals seriously.

"When he realises that Bayern are responding, then he will probably blossom again."

But those comments have not gone down well with club legend Matthaus, who feels the Bayern skipper should have discussed the matter privately rather than let his representative speak to the media. 

"His behaviour is totally unacceptable," Matthaus told Bild. "As the captain of Bayern he should speak to the club if he has a problem with the situation over signings.

"The doors of the management are always open.

"I know his agent - he's someone who doesn't usually show up in public of his own free will. Manuel will have agreed with him. My representatives would not have been able to express themselves in this way without my consent."

Sven Ulreich has been called up to the Germany squad for the first time after a thumb injury ruled Arsenal's Bernd Leno out of Die Mannschaft's forthcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Belarus and Estonia.

Bayern Munich's Ulreich made just nine Bundesliga appearances as his side won the title in 2018-19 but Germany's goalkeeping coach Andreas Kopke said he had earned his chance for the national team after deputising ably for Manuel Neuer at Allianz Arena.

Ulreich joins Neuer and Eintracht Frankfurt's Kevin Trapp in Germany's squad for the qualifiers, the first of which is the trip to Belarus on June 8th. 

Kopke told AZ: "Sven deserves this call-up.

"When he was needed this season, he was there and showed top performances at Bayern, 

"That is a great quality."

Leno was an unused substitute in Arsenal's 4-1 Europa League final defeat to Chelsea but Kopke indicated the 27-year-old has been struggling for some time.

"I know Bernd is suffering from pain for weeks," said Kopke.

"The thumb is immobilised with a bracer so we have to do without him in the upcoming games."

Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben have been named on Bayern Munich's bench for the DFB-Pokal final against RB Leipzig, with Manuel Neuer starting.

Long-serving duo Ribery and Robben came on as substitutes against Eintracht Frankfurt in their final Bundesliga appearances for Bayern last time out, both scoring in a 5-1 win that sealed a seventh-successive league crown.

And both players will again begin among the replacements on Saturday in what is their farewell Bayern game, head coach Niko Kovac sticking with Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry.

They are joined on the bench by Rafinha, who is also calling time on his Bayern career after the clash at the Olympiastadion.

Another Bayern stalwart, Neuer, does start, after he returned from injury against Eintracht, with Kovac making just one alteration to his XI - the injured Leon Goretzka making way for Javi Martinez.

Leipzig drew 0-0 with Bayern in the penultimate Bundesliga fixture of the season, and Ralf Rangnick has made two changes from his starting XI in that fixture, with Tyler Adams and Kevin Kampl coming in for Diego Demme and Konrad Laimer.

Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will return from six weeks out injured to start the DFB-Pokal final against RB Leipzig on Saturday, Niko Kovac has confirmed.

Neuer was substituted in the second half of the 4-1 Bundesliga victory over Fortuna Dusseldorf on April 14 after aggravating an existing calf issue.

The captain was initially ruled out for two weeks but has not played since, with Bayern keen not to rush him back into action.

However, Neuer trained this week and Kovac revealed the World Cup winner will be back between the posts against Leipzig in Berlin.

"I can say Manuel will play," the coach told a news conference on Friday. "He is our captain and has done well this season. He is a cornerstone of our team."

Saturday's match will be the last opportunity for departing stars Rafinha, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben to feature for Bayern.

However, Kovac insists he cannot allow that to play into his thinking when it comes to team selection.

He said: "It will be the last competitive match for these three top players, but we have a very difficult task - as we did against Eintracht Frankfurt [in the Bundesliga last weekend].

"It will be a very difficult decision for me, because I know how hard it is. But we have players who did a great job in the second half of the season, so I have to give them the confidence that they deserve.

"I can only choose 11 players, but everything is possible [on Saturday]. Everyone can play - even the three that are leaving Bayern."

Kovac and Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge have insisted he will remain as coach next season, yet the former Frankfurt boss was not willing to discuss his future.

"We have a cup final ahead of us," he said. "We should talk about football. I want to throw all my energy into the team and the job. My future is secondary."

Manuel Neuer and James Rodriguez have trained with Bayern Munich ahead of the DFB-Pokal final.

Niko Kovac's side face RB Leipzig in Berlin on Saturday as they seek to complete a domestic double, having held off the challenge of Borussia Dortmund to retain the Bundesliga title.

Captain Neuer has been out of action due to a calf injury since mid-April but could return to take the gloves against Leipzig after taking part in Tuesday's session.

James, who has not played this month as a result of his own calf issues, was also involved, with the Colombia international set for what could be a farewell appearance as his two-year loan from Real Madrid expires next month.

Leon Goretzka was absent from the session - the former Schalke midfielder training alone due to a knock sustained during Saturday's title-clinching defeat of Eintracht Frankfurt.

Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen has set his sights on replacing Manuel Neuer as Germany's first-choice goalkeeper.

Bayern Munich star Neuer has been Joachim Low's regular starter since before the 2010 World Cup, with Ter Stegen established as his back-up in recent years.

Neuer has captained his country since Bastian Schweinsteiger's international retirement in 2016, but Ter Stegen wants to take his place between the sticks.

"Of course, you hope to play. Now my expectations are to keep improving in order to become Germany's number one," he said in quotes reported by Sport.

Semifinals !! #DesireToWin@ChampionsLeague @FCBarcelona pic.twitter.com/bxZUhKwKUT

— Marc ter Stegen (@mterstegen1) April 16, 2019

Ter Stegen was guilty of making some high-profile mistakes early on in his international career, but he insists those errors have made him grow as a player.

"Those experiences make you stronger," the 26-year-old explained.

"The goalkeeper is the last man and you can make mistakes. There are errors I'd like to forget about, or that I'd love to go back in time and change.

"Now I handle it better. Mistakes happen but you must keep improving."

Bayern Munich's back-up goalkeeper Sven Ulreich has advised Alexander Nubel to remain at Schalke should the Bundesliga champions come calling.

Nubel has been a standout performer for struggling Schalke this term, and reports have emerged linking the 22-year-old with a transfer to Bayern - a move the club's current number one Manuel Neuer made in 2011.

Ulreich moved to Bayern to be their back-up goalkeeper in 2015, though he made 29 Bundesliga appearances in 2017-18 due to Neuer sustaining a foot injury early in the campaign.

Former Stuttgart stopper Ulreich returned to Bayern's line-up for their win over Werder Bremen on Saturday, with Neuer sustaining a calf injury in the 4-1 victory over Fortuna Dusseldorf six days earlier.

And Ulreich has suggested that Germany Under-21 international Nubel, who has made 18 appearances across all competitions this season, should reject any potential Bayern advances and instead focus on regular first-team action.

"I do not think that Nubel wants to come here as number two, if he can play at Schalke," Ulreich told Sport Bild.

"I do not think he wants to sit down behind Manu at the age of 22.

"I think if he came, he would want to play, so that makes no sense in my view. Neuer is absolutely undisputed."

Ulreich is set to start once more for Bayern when they take on Bremen in the DFB-Pokal semi-finals on Wednesday, with Neuer due back from injury in time to play against RB Leipzig on May 11.

Manuel Neuer will not be rushed back to the Bayern Munich team after his latest injury blow, says Niko Kovac.

Neuer was ruled out for two weeks after sustaining a calf injury in Bayern's last game, a Bundesliga win over Fortuna Dusseldorf.

He is therefore out for Saturday's home league game against Werder Bremen, as well as the DFB-Pokal semi-final away to the same opposition four days later.

Sven Ulreich is in line to deputise for Neuer, as he did throughout last season when the Bayern captain was sidelined long-term with a foot injury.

Kovac plans to give Neuer plenty of time to recover, while Mats Hummels and James Rodriguez are also injury doubts for the first Werder game.

"We will take no chances with Manuel, let him come back slowly," Kovac told reporters on Thursday.

"Sven absolutely has our trust. He has earned this trust, we can always rely on him. I'm very, very optimistic.

"Mats is running, he feels good, we'll see if he can play against Werder on Saturday.

"If he's not 100 per cent fit, he will not play, we have [Jerome] Boateng, [Niklas] Sule is suspended in the cup, so we're reliant on Mats.

"James has trouble with his adductors, he's not sure if he can play, apart from Arjen Robben all are fit.

"[Corentin] Tolisso is making great strides and we have to see if he plays this season, depending on what the others are doing."

Bayern have recorded 18 straight wins in all competitions against Bremen, who have not avoided defeat in this fixture since 2010.

Kovac's side can take a huge step towards a domestic double by extending that run further, but Kovac is demanding full focus on staying clear of title rivals Borussia Dortmund.

"We only think of the Bundesliga match against Werder," Kovac added. "The DFB-Pokal is much further away and we will draw the necessary conclusions from the first game.

"If we implement all the principles and structures, it will be very difficult to score goals against us, but that is a prerequisite: we all have to join in."

Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer laughed at rumours he was going to announce his retirement to the media on Wednesday.

Neuer sustained a calf injury against Fortuna Dusseldorf on Sunday, ruling him out for two weeks, and when it was revealed he was set to hold a news conference speculation over his future mounted.

The 33-year-old missed the majority of the 2017-18 season due to a fractured foot and spent time out due to a thumb issue before sustaining a calf problem in March.

Head coach Niko Kovac confirmed Neuer suffered a recurrence of the latter injury at the weekend, but the keeper was surprised by suggestions he was set to hang up his boots.

"We were laughing about that to be honest," said Neuer. "We agreed on this press conference a week ago and I just guaranteed that I'd be available because a lot of people wanted to hear me speak, so that's why I didn't cancel this."

Neuer, who hopes to return in time to face RB Leipzig on May 11, thinks his muscle issues are part and parcel of coming back from a long-term absence.

"I think I'll be able to work more after two weeks, but it's difficult to tell you when I'll return to the pitch. My goal is to return to fitness as soon as possible and to do everything I can to achieve that," he said.

"I think Leipzig is a realistic goal for me, but we'll have to take it step by step. I should be able to train fully after two weeks.

"Looking back, I was injured for more than a year after I fractured my foot and was on crutches for six months and honestly I expected to have muscle injuries much sooner, like in the first half of the season.

"I was injured for so long that it's normal to have minor muscle issues. Fortunately, it's only a minor one now, nothing that'll keep me out for a couple months.

"You can't predict these things. It's not like I have any regrets or am frustrated with past decisions – nothing indicated an injury and these things just happen in top professional sports."

Sven Ulreich is expected to start in place of Neuer when Bayern take on Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga on Saturday and the DFB-Pokal semi-finals four days later.

After impressing during Neuer's absence last season, Ulreich committed a huge error at the Santiago Bernabeu when the Bavarian giants were eliminated from the Champions League semi-finals by Real Madrid.

However, Neuer believes his understudy has proven himself a competent keeper and will help the team navigate a pair of tricky matches against Bremen.

"I don't think we should talk about that [his mistake against Madrid], but about how many good games he played. We know he showed very good performances in the past and I'm convinced he'll do so in the next games," he said.

"[Bremen] are a very strong team, they like to play football, they're good at counter-attacking and have a strong offence.

"They won away against Dortmund, they've got good spirit and unit and that's why we should be wary. It's definitely not going to be easy."

Thomas Muller says he would deliberately miss a penalty if Bayern Munich were awarded one like Fortuna Dusseldorf's in their Bundesliga clash on Sunday.

Bayern were 3-0 up thanks to a brace from Kingsley Coman and a Serge Gnabry strike when Mats Hummels was penalised for handball inside the area following a VAR review.

Substitute Dodi Lukebakio stroked home the resulting spot-kick in the 89th minute, but Muller insists he would have purposely missed had the Bavarian giants been awarded a penalty in the same circumstances.

"Of course, the ball clearly hits the hand. I don't know how the rest of Germany sees it, but as a striker I would not want a penalty like that for us. I would deliberately miss it," he told Sky.

Fortuna coach Friedhelm Funkel, however, disagreed with Muller's assessment.

He said: "We have had to accept a penalty for less, so it was a crystal-clear penalty for me, which of course does not change the deserved victory for Bayern Munich."

Leon Goretzka struck in stoppage time to seal a 4-1 win that lifted Bayern one point above Borussia Dortmund at the Bundesliga summit with five games remaining.

Muller admitted the reigning champions are feeling the pressure of such a close title race.

"We always have pressure and we have to deliver," he added. "It does not hurt us if we have a bit of pressure.

"This is how we have to go on. Dortmund are currently not brilliant, but they are delivering the results and that puts us under pressure.

"We have it in our own hands, so we have to play it game by game. We want to win all the remaining games."

Bayern confirmed on Sunday that Manuel Neuer, who limped off in the second half with another calf injury, will be out for two weeks and Mats Hummels will "take a short break from training" after straining his thigh.

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