Leon Goretzka praised Hansi Flick following reports Bayern Munich are looking to unite him with Thomas Tuchel in a new coaching team.

German publication Bild suggested interim boss Flick could be kept on as an assistant at Allianz Arena if the Bundesliga side succeed in prising Tuchel from Paris Saint-Germain.

Flick took charge in a caretaker capacity following Niko Kovac's departure in November and has overseen four wins and a defeat in all competitions.

Chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge reaffirmed his support for the 54-year-old following the weekend loss to Bayer Leverkusen, a result midfielder Goretzka insisted was not Flick's fault.

"He told us what we did well and what we did badly," the Germany international told news portal T-Online.

"We knew how we wanted to defend the counter-attack, but in the moment we did not do it well. But that will be different in the next games."

Goretzka added: "He's doing a very good job.

"The coach question is not for me to decide, that's what others do. But he definitely recommended himself [through Bayern's results] in the last few weeks."

Goretzka made his second Bundesliga start of the season in the Leverkusen encounter and will hope for further opportunities to press his case for Euro 2020 selection with Germany.

Joachim Low's men have been dealt a tough draw for the tournament, with holders Portugal and World Cup winners France joining them in Group F.

"What is difficult for me to understand is how such a group can come about," Goretzka said.

"I don't think we will go in as favourites, as we would normally expect at a European Championship.

"Nevertheless, we always have the claim to progress. I do not see any problem either. They are big challenges.

"We will try to spark euphoria in the country with the fans behind us and then continue on our way."

Serge Gnabry scored a hat-trick as Germany rallied to humble Northern Ireland 6-1 in Euro 2020 qualifying and secure top spot in Group C.

Michael Smith had given Northern Ireland a shock early lead on Tuesday, however Germany hit back in emphatic fashion with Leon Goretzka also grabbing a brace for the hosts before Julian Brandt's injury-time strike.

Gnabry's treble took his tally for 2019-20 to 14 goals for club and country as his fine start to the campaign continued with another clinical display. 

Having finished third in the group, Northern Ireland - on whom the result was harsh - must now wait for Friday's draw to discover who they will face in the Euro 2020 qualifying play-offs.

Germany were stunned in the seventh minute when Toni Kroos could only head George Saville's cross to the edge of his own area and Smith unleashed a stunning low strike into the bottom-left corner beyond the reach of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Germany were almost level five minutes later after Ilkay Gundogan struck the post and soon they had their goal as Gnabry controlled Jonas Hector's cross from the left before swivelling and firing clinically into the far corner from 12 yards out.

Hector was again the provider two minutes before the interval as Germany turned the contest on its head. 

His cross somehow evaded a crowd of bodies before the onrushing Goretzka made sufficient contact to send the ball agonisingly past Northern Ireland goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell and in off the post.

Within two minutes of the restart, Germany had a third as Lukas Klostermann found Gnabry, who again rifled home in clinical fashion.

Gnabry was celebrating his hat-trick just on the hour when he held off Tom Flanagan before drilling a low shot inside the far post. 

Germany added further gloss, with Goretzka firing in from the edge of the area in the 72nd minute before Brandt struck from the left side of the box in added time.

 

What does it mean? Germany starting to look their old selves

For Germany, it is starting to look a case of 'Crisis? What crisis?'. Seven wins from a possible eight and top spot in a group including Netherlands, and things appear to be starting to click together again for Joachim Low and his team after last year's World Cup disappointment. There was no shame in this defeat for Northern Ireland. They have every reason to go into the play-offs in buoyant mood after giving the big boys a run for their money.

Gnabry continues deadly form 

In his previous outing against British opponents – when club Bayern Munich faced Tottenham in the Champions League last month – Gnabry scored four times. On this occasion it was three. The former Arsenal man is a player reborn in the Bundesliga and looks one of Europe's hottest properties right now.

Smith's brilliant strike a silver lining for Irish

This was a night the Hearts defender will never forget after scoring the goal which put his team ahead against one of Europe's giants. What a goal it was as he demonstrated textbook technique to send a rasping low drive beyond Germany goalkeeper Ter Stegen. 

What's next?

The play-offs await Northern Ireland in March – they will discover their opponents in Friday's draw in Nyon. Boss Michael O'Neill will be in charge for those matches despite his appointment at Championship outfit Stoke City, yet the search for his successor begins now for the Irish Football Association (IFA). With their place already booked, Germany can now look forward to next year's showpiece tournament.

Toni Kroos and Leon Goretzka have returned to Germany's squad for their Euro 2020 qualifiers against Belarus and Northern Ireland.

Real Madrid star Kroos and Bayern Munich midfielder Goretzka missed the 2-2 friendly draw with Argentina and 3-0 qualifying win against Estonia through injury.

However, both players have since returned to action for their club sides and have been included in Joachim Low's 24-man squad.

Low is still without long-term injury absentee Leroy Sane, while Niklas Sule is set for a lengthy lay-off after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament tear in his left knee last month. 

Bayer Leverkusen attacker Nadiem Amiri received a maiden senior call-up last month and is included again, as is Schalke 04 midfielder Suat Serdar.

"I would have liked more continuity with my selection, but that was not possible because of the many injuries we have had," Low said. 

"All the more important is that Kroos returns and provides some stability, along with Manuel Neuer, Ilkay Gundogan, Marco Reus and Joshua Kimmich.

"We give our full confidence to the players who are present - they deserve our attention."

Germany, second to the Netherlands in Group C on head-to-head record, face Belarus in Monchengladbach on November 16 and welcome Northern Ireland to Frankfurt three days later.

Germany squad in full:

Bernd Leno (Arsenal), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona); Emre Can (Juventus), Jonas Hector (Koln), Jonathan Tah (Bayer Leverkusen), Lukas Klostermann (RB Leipzig), Matthias Ginter (Borussia Monchengladbach), Nico Schulz (Borussia Dortmund), Niklas Stark (Hertha Berlin), Robin Koch (Freiburg); Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Julian Brandt (Borussia Dortmund), Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen), Leon Goretzka (Bayern Munich), Luca Waldschmidt (Freiburg), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Nadiem Amiri (Bayer Leverkusen), Sebastian Rudy (Hoffenheim), Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich), Suat Serdar (Schalke 04), Timo Werner (RB Leipzig), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid).

Manuel Neuer was left wondering whether Bayern Munich really wanted to advance in the DFB-Pokal following Tuesday's narrow victory at second-tier Bochum.

Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller scored in the final 10 minutes to seal a come-from-behind 2-1 win that spared the Bundesliga champions from embarrassment.

Bayern fell behind when Alphonso Davies turned a cross into his own net and the visitors needed almost 50 minutes to restore parity.

A poor first half forced coach Niko Kovac to call Robert Lewandowski from the bench and led captain Neuer to question the squad's desire.

"The way we played in the first half was really sad and disappointing," Neuer said.

"I don't know the reason, whether we were not there in our heads or we just didn't want to qualify. That's what it looked like anyway.

"It's important that everyone starts with themselves. We don't need to talk about individual players or the system or the coach.

"It's important for us as professionals to be able to look at ourselves in the mirror."

The victory was Bayern's third on the bounce in all competitions but continued a series of below-par showings against modest opposition.

Since losing at home to Hoffenheim, Kovac's men have drawn with Augsburg and scraped past Olympiacos, Union Berlin and Bochum.

Leon Goretzka diagnosed the problem as a lack of enjoyment.

"I think we need to get the fun back," he said after the second-round win over his former club.

"I talked about this in the dressing room. It was a night game and we should just go out and have fun. But that was missing.

"For sure it was a weak performance. I can't really remember any chances. It was a bad game from us."

Bayern Munich midfielder Ivan Perisic has been ruled out of the Bundesliga clash at Paderborn on Saturday through illness.

The 30-year-old Croatia international missed training on Friday because of flu and will be unavailable, the club announced.

Perisic has scored two goals in three Bundesliga appearances for Bayern since he joined on a season-long loan deal from Italian club Inter.

Bayern head coach Niko Kovac will again be without midfielder Leon Goretzka, 24, as he recovers from a thigh injury, but 27-year-old defender David Alaba could be involved after he returned to training following a hamstring problem.

Kovac said: "Leon still needs some time, I think he'll only be fully available after the next international break. David is looking good, but we see how it works out."

Promising 19-year-old striker Jann-Fiete Arp, signed from Hamburg in July and yet to feature in a competitive match for Bayern, faces a spell on the sidelines after he sustained a broken wrist in training.

Niko Kovac says Leon Goretzka will not recover from a thigh injury in time to play against Tottenham in the Champions League next week.

The Bayern Munich midfielder had surgery earlier this month after he aggravated an existing issue while on Germany duty.

Bayern initially gave no timescale for Goretzka's recovery but Kovac does not expect his return to be imminent, though there is better news on left-back David Alaba.

"David Alaba has trained today, it looks good," Kovac told reporters ahead of Saturday's Bundesliga trip to bottom side Paderborn.

"Let's see how it develops tomorrow [Friday] with him. Leon Goretzka still takes a bit longer.

"I expect [he will return] only after the international break."

Jann-Fiete Arp is yet to make his Bundesliga debut for Bayern after joining from Hamburg and the striker's wait will continue after he broke a bone in his hand during training.

"We will have to wait on what the doctors say before we can determine when he will return to full training again," Kovac added of the 19-year-old.

"It is difficult. You have to be careful that the bone grows together again. Shocks and jolts could complicate things, so we need to see what the doctors say so we know when to train again.

"Fiete has gotten the time from us and will continue to get it. We try to make him better every day in training, but you cannot expect too much from him.

"He may have been hyped up a bit too much at a young age, you have to be patient with him."

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.

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.

Kingsley Coman illuminated a routine 3-1 win for Bayern Munich at Energie Cottbus in the DFB-Pokal.

Coman had a hand in Robert Lewandowski's first-half opener before his superb 65th-minute strike ensured there would be no way back for Bayern's fourth-tier opponents.

Niko Kovac handed a full debut to another France international, defender Benjamin Pavard, in a strong line-up, who rounded things off when substitute Leon Goretzka slotted home five minutes from time, shortly before late a Energie consolation via a penalty.

But the most eye-catching performance came from Coman on the wing, with Bayern expected to bolster their wide attacking options by completing the signing of Ivan Perisic from Inter this week.

The Bundesliga champions were forced to be patient against disciplined opponents roared on by a buoyant Stadion der Freundschaft, before going ahead in the 32nd minute.

Lennart Moser saved impressively when Coman headed Joshua Kimmich's cross goalwards but Lewandowski was on hand to convert the rebound.

A poor Kimmich clearance gave Felix Brugmann a half-chance he hacked over four minutes from the interval.

Coman and Lewandowski combined again early in the second period – the Poland striker flicking wide with the outside of his right boot.

Energie were struggling to contain Coman, who had a 48th-minute penalty appeal waved away before netting in style after the hour.

A sweeping move saw Goretzka drive forward to find Coman on the left flank, from where he darted inside to send a shot swerving into the far corner from 25 yards.

Goretzka's perfectly timed run to finish a cutback from Serge Gnabry made Bayern safe – just as well given the former Schalke midfielder's clumsy foul gave Berkan Taz a moment to savour in stoppage time.

 

What does it mean? Bayern turn attentions towards number eight

Potential humiliation was rarely flirted with as Bayern kept Energie at arm's length throughout the contest. Save for one horrible tackle on Corentin Tolisso from Tobias Eisenhuth, and that late penalty, there were no real worries ahead of the new Bundesliga season, where a resurgent Borussia Dortmund will be the main obstacle to an eighth successive title.

Coman makes his case

Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery riding off into the sunset at the end of last season, along with the messy and fruitless courting of Leroy Sane, means Bayern are lighter than they would like to be in what has traditionally been a position of strength for the club. Coman's industrious and inventive showing - crowned by a fabulous goal - served notice of a player ready to grasp his chance and become a star performer this season. Now, if he can just stay fit.

Kovac needs commanding start to Bundesliga season

Bayern were comfortable enough winners in the end, but, having drawn a blank in their DFL-Supercup loss to Dortmund, they sometimes lacked penetration against a team who were relegated last season to the fourth tier. Kovac must shift them into higher gears during the opening weeks of the league campaign to feel a little more secure in his post.

What's next?

Bayern host Hertha Berlin to begin their Bundesliga campaign on Friday, while Energie travel to Lokomotive Leipzig in the Regionalliga a day later.

Thomas Muller plundered a hat-trick as Bayern Munich romped to a 6-1 Audi Cup win against Fenerbahce at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday.

Niko Kovac's side were in ruthless mood against their desperately poor Super Lig opponents, with Renato Sanches, Leon Goretzka and Kingsley Coman adding to Muller's treble.

Max Kruse gave the visiting support something to cheer with a 64th-minute consolation strike, but it did little to take the shine off a consummate attacking performance by the reigning Bundesliga champions.

Bayern – who face Borussia Dortmund in the DFL-Supercup on Saturday – will take on Tottenham in the final on Wednesday, while Fenerbahce will have to pick themselves up for a third-place tie against Real Madrid on the same day.

Sanches got Bayern on their way after 22 minutes, sliding into an empty net after being teed up by Robert Lewandowski.  

That was followed six minutes later by a second, Goretzka driving into the penalty area to meet Coman's cutback with a low, right-footed strike from 12 yards.

Muller – who had been introduced for the injured Serge Gnabry after 20 minutes – made it three in the 31st minute after picking Nabil Dirar's pocket just eight yards out and slotting past a helpless Harun Tekin.

The Fener goalkeeper picked the ball out of his net again five minutes before the interval when the impressive Coman slotted underneath him after Lewandowski's pass was fortuitously deflected into his path.

Vedat Muriqi flashed narrowly wide at the other end but normal service was resumed in the 44th minute, Muller adding his second from the penalty spot after Lewandowski was hauled down by Mauricio Isla.

Muller completed his hat-trick in style shortly before the hour mark, superbly controlling Niklas Sule's long ball with his heel and firing past Tekin, who had inexplicably raced off his line, from 35 yards.

Bayern eased up after a raft of substitutions, allowing Kruse to run at their defence and fire past Sven Ulreich from the edge of the penalty area for the most inconsequential of goals.

It still appeared to be too much for Dirar, who seemingly had to be prevented from walking off the pitch with 20 minutes remaining by his coach Ersun Yanal and a number of team-mates.

Leon Goretzka scored the only goal of the match as Marco Giampaolo's first game in charge of AC Milan resulted in a 1-0 loss to Bayern Munich at the International Champions Cup.

Giampaolo arrived from Serie A rivals Sampdoria after Gennaro Gattuso stepped down as head coach of Milan at the end of the 2018-19 season.

And Giampaolo oversaw defeat in Milan's pre-season opener as Goretzka's well-taken 48th-minute goal guided Bayern to their second ICC victory.

New signing Theo Hernandez made his debut for Milan following his transfer from Real Madrid, while Paolo Maldini's son – Daniel – was also in the starting XI for the Rossoneri.

Niko Kovac's Bayern controlled proceedings in Kansas City, where clear-cut chances were few and far between in a tight opening 45 minutes.

Maldini's side-footed effort sailed just over the crossbar, while Bayern midfielder Renato Sanches fired a powerful strike just past the post.

Hernandez's bow ended prior to half-time as the French full-back was carried off on a stretcher with an ankle injury.

Bayern managed to break the deadlock right on the stroke of half-time when Joshua Kimmich played a perfectly weighed pass to Goretzka, who took a touch before tucking the ball beyond Gianluigi Donnarumma in the 48th minute.

Patrick Cutrone – who has been linked to Premier League side Wolves – should have equalised for Milan after cutting out Niklas Sule's pass across goal but the second-half substitute was denied by Sven Ulreich in a one-on-one situation with 26 minutes remaining.

Bayern found the back of the net nine minutes from the end but Jann-Fiete Arp's goal was ruled out for what appeared to be a handball, while David Alaba had an effort cancelled out for offside.

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