Chelsea will have an advantage in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Bayern Munich, according to Leon Goretzka.

Bayern hold a commanding 3-0 lead following an impressive victory at Stamford Bridge in February, but they will not have played a competitive game in over a month when they take on Chelsea at the Allianz Arena on August 8.

The Blues, meanwhile, will conclude their Premier League campaign on July 26 and will contest the FA Cup final on August 1 if they defeat Manchester United in a semi-final at Wembley on Sunday.

Goretzka thinks that gives Frank Lampard's side an edge, though the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal champions will do their utmost to ensure Chelsea do not repeat their 2012 Champions League final success over Bayern in Munich.

"We've already had a great season, winning the championship and the cup," Goretzka told Bild am Sonntag.

"It is clear to every one of us that the competition and our path to the final is extremely challenging."

Whoever progress from the tie between Chelsea and Bayern will take on either Napoli or Barcelona in the quarter-finals in Lisbon, with one of Real Madrid, Manchester City, Lyon and Juventus waiting in the final four.

Goretzka continued: "All our focus in on the game against Chelsea. The good thing about such top opponents is that they have as much respect for us as we do for them.

"Chelsea has the advantage that they are travelling to Munich just after the season, while we want to keep up our rhythm.

"We will do everything to make sure Chelsea will not be successful again in Munich."

The Bundesliga was the first of Europe's top five leagues to resume amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the campaign wrapped up on June 27.

Goretzka impressed in the heart of Bayern's midfield following the resumption in May and put it down to increasing his muscle mass during the hiatus.

"For me, lockdown was both a crisis and an opportunity," said Goretzka.

"A crisis because you miss football and daily training with the team. But also, a chance to gain muscle mass in co-ordination with the physiotherapist.

"In crucial games and moments, it is important to be physically and mentally fit. The weight helps me in tackles, makes me a bit more agile and robust. Not only on the ground in a one-on-one, but also in the air."

Bayern Munich head coach Hansi Flick has heaped praise on in-form full-back Alphonso Davies ahead of Wednesday's DFB-Pokal semi-final.

Signed as a winger from Vancouver Whitecaps in January last year, the Canada star has developed into one of Europe's best left-backs this season and earned a contract extension until 2025.

The 19-year-old's form has helped Bayern to sustain their challenge for the treble in 2019-20, and Flick has no doubt he can get even better.

"Alphonso is doing outstandingly at the moment," Flick said on Tuesday. "In addition to his speed on the pitch, he's very adept defensively. 

"Now, he's setting up goals in attack and has scored some himself. He's on a very good path. He's young - he can and wants to learn.

"Despite his young age, he's currently one of the top performers."

Bayern face Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday, against whom they lost the 2018 final, but their 11-game winning run in all competitions places them as firm favourites to progress.

They beat Frankfurt 5-2 last month in the Bundesliga, too, although Flick is not prepared to underestimate their opponents.

"We approach the game like all the others," he said. "We are analysing Frankfurt for the third time in a season.

"We have to be very focused over 90 minutes, or longer in the cup. The team know about Frankfurt's strengths but also know about their own."

Another Bayern player to enjoy strong form since German football returned last month is Leon Goretzka, who got a goal and an assist in last Saturday's 4-2 win at Bayer Leverkusen.

Flick thinks the midfielder reflects the positive team spirit within the squad.

"He has a healthy aggression and so wins the ball a lot, and then he can start dangerous attacks," he said.

"But I don't want to single out one man. The whole team is excellent off the ball and also with the ball. Everyone feels a responsibility without the ball, and everyone wants to support each other with it.

"Not having an atmosphere [in behind-closed-doors games] may also help, since we speak a lot with each other. You can tell on the bench how everyone is, too – they also want to support. I like that. It shows the team spirit."

Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick expressed frustration after Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller earned yellow cards in the win over Bayer Leverkusen that will rule them out of their next Bundesliga match.

Despite falling behind early on, Bayern rallied and ultimately ran out comfortable 4-2 winners, with Kingsley Coman, Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnabry and Lewandowski on target. 

For Lewandowksi, his effort took him on to 44 for the season across all competitions, a personal best, while Muller claimed a pair of assists to move him to 20 for the 2019-20 Bundesliga campaign, tying Kevin De Bruyne's record.

But both of Bayern's key men were booked, meaning they will miss next weekend's visit of Borussia Monchengladbach.

Although Bayern have a commanding lead at the summit, Flick did not hide his irritation at having the pair ruled out.

"It's annoying but we cannot change it and have to accept the situation," he said.

"You are emotional on the pitch, but I spoke to the referee Manuel Grafe. He said that Lewandowski was hitting the opponent and that's why he saw the yellow card. I didn't see it so I cannot really comment.

"Thomas was blocking the ball when they had free-kick, so the yellow card was okay. It is what it is. We accept it.

"We will have two other players. This is also good sometimes, but it's important that both can play 90 minutes against Eintracht Frankfurt [in the DFB-Pokal] on Wednesday. Then we try to prepare ourselves well for the game against Gladbach."

Goretzka was a standout performer once again and that was not lost on Flick, who is desperate for the Germany midfielder to remain injury-free.

"We are knocking on wood [hoping Goretzka remains fit] and hope he continues like that," Flick said.

"Of course, how we fought back was also due to the intensive pressing – we were more aggressive and had good ball possessions.

"Leon was directly involved in those moments and had a big influence on the first two goals.

"He showed exactly what you need as a team when you still have to find your way to the game. He did that great.

"Regarding his physical condition, he has a very strong role on the pitch and this helps us a lot."

Hansi Flick says Bayern Munich are "hungry for goals" as he targets another attacking masterclass against Bayer Leverkusen this weekend.

Bayern thrashed Fortuna Dusseldorf 5-0 last weekend to make it 86 league goals this term - the most of any German top-flight side ever after 29 rounds of matches.

The reigning champions have scored five goals in a game on eight occasions in all competitions, which is more than any other side across Europe's top five leagues.

And Flick, who has won 22 of his first 25 games in charge of Bayern, does not intend to ease up as his side close in on an eighth successive title.

"The way we play is good. We are hungry for goals," he said at Friday's pre-match news conference.

"We want to tackle the game against Leverkusen in the same way. Leverkusen have very, very fast players and are a dangerous team. We have to prevent these things.

"We are active and want to have a certain dynamic to our game, both with and without the ball. When we have the ball, the first thought is offensive. Then everyone is involved."

Bayern have won 14 of their last 15 matches, including four in a row since returning to Bundesliga action last month.

They now have three games in a week to prepare for, with league matches against Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach either side of a DFB-Pokal semi-final with Eintracht Frankfurt.

"The team is very focused," Flick said. "They also did well in today's final training. We always speak of a power season. 

"Now we have the fifth game after the break and want to be successful. There is no excuse for us. We have the power to play three games in one week."

Thiago Alcantara is closing in on a return after recovering from an adductor injury, which could mean Leon Goretzka is given a breather this weekend.

"Thiago is an option. The qualities he has are good for every team. Let's wait and see," Flick added. 

"Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich have done very well at 'six'. I am happy that it went so well, but also that Thiago is back. 

"Leon has had time to work on his body. Overall, the team have been working very well and are in a very good physical condition."

Thiago Alcantara will miss Tuesday's Klassiker between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.

Head coach Hansi Flick confirmed the midfielder will not be available for the game at Signal Iduna Park after being forced to miss Monday's training session.

"Thiago didn't train," Flick told reporters. "Unfortunately, he is ruled out for this game. The final secret regarding the line-up, I'd like to keep to myself."

Thiago has played 23 times in the league this season but sat out Saturday's 5-2 win over Eintracht Frankfurt due to a groin problem.

In his absence, Flick hopes to see Leon Goretzka continue his impressive run of form.

"He won plenty of balls against Frankfurt and was very aggressive. That's very important for a holding midfielder," Flick said. 

"He has added some muscle, which has benefited his game. Leon is developing well. 

"He was a little more attacking before, as a 10 or a number eight. But, as a six, he can show off his strength, his sprints forward.

"He interprets things differently to Thiago. I'm happy to have alternatives in this position."

Bayern head into the game with a four-point lead over Dortmund at the top of the table, with just seven games of the season remaining.

They are on an eight-match winning run in all competitions and won the reverse fixture 4-0 at the Allianz Arena last November.

Tuesday's game takes place just a day after the seventh anniversary of Bayern and Dortmund's meeting in the Champions League final at Wembley in 2013, when Arjen Robben's late goal secured the treble for Jupp Heynckes' side.

Bayern Munich are planning an inquest into the two goals they conceded against Eintracht Frankfurt, with Hansi Flick calling for a clean sheet against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.

Thanks to goals from Leon Goretzka, Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski, Bundesliga leaders Bayern looked comfortable with a 3-0 lead after 50 minutes at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

However, they were caught napping at two set-pieces in the space of three minutes, with Hinteregger allowed space to bundle a volley past Manuel Neuer before powering a header into the back of the net.

Alphonso Davies quickly put Bayern back in control before a comical own goal from Hinteregger secured a 5-2 triumph for Flick's men.

The Bayern coach hopes to see better defending when his team take on Dortmund, who sit four points back in second, at Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday.

"After 3-0 we switched off. Frankfurt set very good standards, we knew that. We didn't look good there. We have to talk about it," Flick told Sky.

"We want to keep a clean sheet against Dortmund. It will be difficult because Dortmund have a very good team. We all hope for a good game of football."

Muller, who registered his 17th assist and seventh goal of the Bundesliga season, acknowledged Hinteregger is a significant threat from dead balls but felt Bayern should have been more alert.

"You never know how to get into games without fans, but I still expect us to go to the maximum," said Muller.

"Hinteregger is a very good player in set-piece situations, but if the ball comes in and no one feels responsible for it, of course we have to talk about it.

"We have made it our goal to have three victories this week. This is a very crucial week for us. We are marching, Dortmund are marching, we can look forward to Tuesday.

"We want to bring the championship to Munich, where it belongs."

Goretzka added: "I think Hinteregger is one of the strongest players when it comes to set-pieces, but, of course, we have to talk about it. That is not possible. It does not work that way."

Thomas Muller and Alphonso Davies were once again pivotal figures for Bayern Munich as the champions saw off Eintracht Frankfurt 5-2 on Saturday, restoring their four-point cushion at the Bundesliga summit ahead of Tuesday's Klassiker. 

Muller and Davies have been revelations for Bayern this term and both were as crucial as ever with a goal and an assist each, though their side's defending left plenty to be desired prior to a potentially pivotal match against Borussia Dortmund. 

There was nothing surprising about the pattern of the first period at the Allianz Arena, however, and Bayern were fully deserving of their comfortable half-time lead of 2-0, the excellent Muller setting up Leon Goretzka before then getting on the scoresheet himself. 

Defensive lapses early in the second half showed a chink in Bayern's armour, however, as Martin Hinteregger netted twice in quick succession from corners after Robert Lewandowski had made it 3-0, but Davies' well-taken goal in the 61st minute was followed by an own goal by Frankfurt's Austrian centre-back to ensure a home victory. 

Although Frankfurt managed to avoid a repeat of last week when they were behind after just 34 seconds, they were fortunate to keep Bayern at bay for as long as they did, Lewandowski hitting the crossbar and Benjamin Pavard going close in the early exchanges. 

But there was no denying Goretzka in the 17th minute, the Germany international emphatically steering in a first-time effort after arriving on to Muller's inch-perfect cross. 

Muller made it 2-0 just before the break, running clear of Frankfurt's offside trap as he collected Davies' left-wing delivery and squeezing the ball past the approaching Kevin Trapp, despite an awkwardly high bounce. 

Lewandowski headed Kingsley Coman's cross in within a minute of the restart, seemingly wrapping up the points, but Bayern conspired to give Frankfurt a chance. 

Hapless defending allowed Hinteregger to tee himself up for a close-range finish in the 52nd minute - and he then netted again a few moments later from another corner. 

Yet Davies restored a modicum of calm to the Bayern bench just past the hour, finding the bottom-left corner after the ball broke kindly for him. 

Hinteregger converted for a third time with 16 minutes to go, albeit it came in the wrong net as the ball ricocheted on to him and then into the goal following a driving run from Serge Gnabry. 

 

What does it mean? Der Klassiker set up nicely 

If any single match is to determine where the Bundesliga title ends up, it will surely be Tuesday's meeting of the top two – and what a contest we have in prospect. 

Dortmund have looked solid upon the resumption, and while Bayern appear ruthless going forward, their defending on Saturday left a lot to be desired. Goals are surely guaranteed. 

Coman keeps it classy 

While Davies and Muller were obvious stars for Bayern, Coman was also impressive. The France international was a constant threat out wide and supplied six key passes, the most in the game. He also got himself a goal, too. 

Ndicka hooked

Frankfurt full-back Evan Ndicka failed to make a single tackle or interception before his half-time withdrawal. Though, to be fair to him, the visitors were not much better without him.

What's next? 

The big one is on the horizon for Bayern – Tuesday sees them go to title rivals Dortmund in the Klassiker, and a victory will take them seven clear of BVB. As for Frankfurt, they will be hosting Freiburg on the same day. 

Robert Lewandowski and his wife Anna followed Bayern Munich stars Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich in making a donation towards the fight against coronavirus, pledging one million euros to charity.

Goretzka and Kimmich set up a fund called 'We Kick Corona', to which they made a joint donation of one million euros.

After making an equal donation, the Lewandowskis told Bild they hoped life would soon return to normal.

"We are all aware of the difficult situation around us," they said.

"Today we all play as a team. Let us be strong in this fight. If we can help someone, do it.

"This situation affects all of us, so we ask that you follow the instructions and listen to those who are most aware. Show responsibility!

"We believe that we will soon return to our normal life. We are in this situation together and we are through it together."

We Kick Corona is inviting charities and social institutions to apply for funds from the €2.5m it has raised, and Kimmich echoed Lewandowski's call for solidarity.

"Everyone can help, both in small and large ways," said Kimmich.

"Only if we stand together now, show reason and responsibility and are there for each other can we make it out of this crisis."

A fine goal from Thiago Alcantara was the highlight as Bayern Munich cruised to a 3-1 victory away to Mainz, their sixth straight Bundesliga triumph.

Bayern go two points clear at the top ahead of RB Leipzig, who have a chance to return to the summit when they play Borussia Monchengladbach later on Saturday.

The visitors were three up inside 26 minutes at Opel Arena, with Robert Lewandowski's 22nd top-flight goal of the campaign setting them on their way.

For the third straight game, both Thomas Muller and Thiago scored, as Jeremiah St. Juste's first-half header no more than a consolation.

Having reached 58 goals in their first 20 matches, a club record, Hansi Flick's side have huge momentum going into a huge match against Leipzig next week.

Mainz, meanwhile, have lost six of their last seven league matches and sit just three points off the bottom.

They had conceded six times in their last two meetings with Bayern and it only took eight minutes for the German champions to move in front, Lewandowski sending a thumping header past goalkeeper Robin Zentner from eight yards after Benjamin Pavard picked him out with a pinpoint cross from the right.

It was two just six minutes later, as Lewandowski ran in on goal and collided with Zentner, prompting Leon Goretzka to gather the loose ball and square for Muller to convert with a simple finish.

A clever Leandro Barreiro effort struck the post at the other end and Mainz were left to rue that near miss after 26 minutes, when Thiago took a pass from Alphonso Davies 25 yards and embarked on a weaving run past Pierre Kunde, St. Juste and Barreiro, before firing in with a left-footed finish.

St. Juste got one back in the last minute of the first half, heading in Daniel Brosinski's corner via a heavy deflection off Goretzka.

A quiet second period almost had a tense finale only for Thiago to make a decisive challenge as Mainz substitute Adam Szalai bore down on goal, while Lewandowski screwed wide from a late chance to make it four.

What does it mean? Bayern flying ahead of top-of-the-table clash

A key contest against Leipzig awaits next week, where depending on their rivals' result against Gladbach they will either go in top or just one point behind. With six straight wins, in which they have scored 23 times, Bayern are in great shape.

Lethal Lewandowski not slowing down

Lewandowski's impressive early header set the tone and he also created four chances for his team-mates. The clinical 31-year-old frontman has already matched his league goals tally for the whole of last season, though he should have added a late second.

Mainz lacking creativity

Jean-Philippe Mateta did not have his finest outing, substituted after 74 minutes having not had a shot or created a single chance for Mainz. But he did not have much help, with the trio behind him - Robin Quaison Jean-Paul Boetius and Levin Oztunali – not producing a single key pass between them.

What's next? 

In-form Bayern host Hoffenheim in the DFB-Pokal on Wednesday, while Mainz are away to Hertha Berlin next Saturday.

Leon Goretzka and Jerome Boateng's training ground incident has been settled, with Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick hopeful there will be no such further displays of emotion from his squad. 

Goretzka and Boateng were pictured in a bust-up on Wednesday as Bayern prepared for Saturday's Bundesliga trip to Mainz.

Images showed Boateng appearing to slap Goretzka in the face having reportedly been angered by a mistimed challenge from the former Schalke playmaker.

Flick, though, insists the dispute has already been put to bed.

"There were a lot of emotions in training. We played a small tournament, every team wanted to win," Flick told a media conference. 

"This shows that the attitude of this team is correct. What I didn't like was the emotionality. 

"I spoke to both of them on the phone in the evening. I am satisfied that it is in the past.

"I don't want to see this behaviour in the team. We have certain values. These things can be verbally sorted out, that's what I expect from the team.

"I don't think much of punishments. It happened for the first time under me. 

"I do not expect such forms of emotion again."

Bayern are a point behind Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig in a fascinating title race. They host Leipzig at the Allianz Arena a week on Sunday, but Flick is adamant their focus is entirely on the challenge posed by Mainz.

"It's important for us to play well in Mainz on Saturday," he added.

"The opponent will put us under pressure in certain situations, switch quickly. They have fast and good players on offense who are looking for a goal. 

"We think from game to game, Leipzig is of no interest to us at all."

Bayern Munich took advantage of RB Leipzig's slip up to move one point behind the Bundesliga leaders with a 5-0 demolition of Schalke.

Buoyed by Leipzig's defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt earlier on Saturday, Hansi Flick's side were dominant from the off at Allianz Arena, leading from the sixth minute when Robert Lewandowski lashed in his 21st league goal of the season.

Thomas Muller bookended a fine first-half display, with the terrific Leon Goretzka striking against his previous club with a sensational scissor-kick five minutes after the break.

Thiago Alcantara helped himself to a simple finish as the hosts ran riot, with a blunder from goalkeeper Markus Schubert – playing in place of the suspended Alexander Nubel, who will join Bayern at the end of the season – enabling Serge Gnabry to complete the scoring in the 89th minute.

Manuel Neuer's mistake handed Suat Serdar an early chance but his effort was tame and Schalke punished when Lewandowski thumped home after Schubert failed to deal with a cross into box.

Muller rightly had a goal disallowed for offside, before Schubert pulled off a fine save from Goretzka's close-range header.

Former Schalke star Goretzka did brilliantly to tee up Lewandowski for what appeared to be Bayern's second, only for VAR to deem Benjamin Pavard had strayed offside.

Schalke's luck ran out in first-half stoppage time – Muller nudging in his 100th goal at the Allianz Arena after connecting with Goretzka's cushioned header.

Schubert brilliantly denied David Alaba and Thiago in quick succession, but Bayern had their third when Goretzka volleyed in his first Bundesliga goal of the campaign.

Schalke's misery was added to eight minutes later, Lewandowski toying with Omar Mascarell before laying it on a plate for Thiago.

Bayern were not done there, however, and the hosts had their fifth when Schubert completely misjudged a curling effort from Gnabry and diverted it into his own net.

 

What does it mean? Pressure back on Leipzig

Julian Nagelsmann's side's 2-0 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt handed Bayern even more impetus and the Bundesliga champions are now in touching distance of leaders Leipzig.

It is turning out to be an enthralling title race, with Borussia Monchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund are also in the running.

Bayern host Leipzig on February 9 in what looks set to be a pivotal fixture.

Goretzka gives Schalke the blues

While Lewandowski has now scored in his past nine league appearances against Schalke, Goretzka was the fulcrum for Bayern. He teed up Muller before rounding off his performance with an exquisite finish.

Schalke's Bayern nightmare rumbles on

Schalke have now suffered 54 Bundesliga defeats to Bayern in 100 meetings, conceding 214 goals in the process, and are without a win against them in 19 matches.

What's next?

Bayern visit struggling Mainz in a week, while Schalke travel to the capital to face Hertha Berlin on Friday.

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."

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