Bruno Labbadia has returned to Stuttgart for a second spell in charge, with the club's former coach signing a two-and-a-half-year deal.

The German, most recently in charge of Hertha Berlin before his dismissal in January last year, previously led the Bundesliga side between 2010 and 2013.

He now returns for a sophomore stint with the club mired in the relegation zone, having claimed just three wins in the top-flight this season, succeeding caretaker Michael Wimmer.

Labbadia, a journeyman player who was a member of Bayern Munich's 1993-94 Bundesliga-winning squad, spoke of his delight at returning to the team on a contract through 2025.

"Everyone knows VfB are not just another club to me," he told the club's website. "I spent a very important period of my coaching career in Stuttgart, and now I’d like to [keep us] in the Bundesliga.

"We'll get to work right away and get everything ready for the start of training on 12 December. We'll quickly get an overview of the team's performance level and work hard with great pleasure to make progress."

During his previous spell, Labbadia managed a best finish of sixth with the club during the 2011-12 season, and led them to the DFB-Pokal final a year later.

He will be joined by Bernhard Trares and Benjamin Sachs as assistants on the coaching staff at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.

In addition to Hertha, Labbadia has also had spells in charge of Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg and two stints with Hamburg.

Stuttgart resume their Bundesliga season against Mainz on January 21.

Alphonso Davies is suspected to have suffered a hamstring strain and now faces an anxious wait to learn whether he will be fit to feature for Canada at the World Cup.

Davies was forced off in the 64th minute of Bayern Munich's thrilling 3-2 win at Hertha Berlin on Saturday, a result which – at least temporarily – moved them ahead of Union Berlin at the Bundesliga summit.

The left-back, who plays in attack for Canada, was seen clutching his right hamstring as he walked gingerly from the field, causing concern for his country ahead of their World Cup opener against Belgium on November 23.

Speaking after Bayern's fourth league win in a row, concerned coach Julian Nagelsmann said: "In terms of that injury, we have to wait until tomorrow. The doctor says there is at least one fibre tear.

"Wait and see what comes out tomorrow."

After Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting's brace allowed Bayern to build on Jamal Musiala's opener, Hertha fought their way back into the match at the end of a remarkable first half, and Nagelsmann was under no illusions as to the importance of the win.

"It wasn't an easy game. We had a couple of good moments in the first half; it was a wild game," he said.

"We led 3-0, but we didn't have any clear actions. The lead was generally a bit too much. Then we got into a phase in which we didn't manage much.

"It got exciting again. In the end, we threw everything in; it was a game that you have to win."

Bayern Munich moved to the top of the Bundesliga table as Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting hit a brace in a thrilling 3-2 win at Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

Choupo-Moting scored twice in as many first-half minutes after Jamal Musiala opened the scoring, but Hertha clawed their way back into contention in an incredible opening period.

Goals from Dodi Lukebakio and Davie Selke, the latter from the spot, reignited the contest before the break, but Hertha never came close to equalising in a quieter second half.

Julian Nagelsmann's men consequently claimed their fourth consecutive Bundesliga win, moving two points clear of Union Berlin ahead of their trip to Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday.

Manuel Neuer, returning to the side, saved from Lukebakio early on, but Bayern took the lead with their first attack as Musiala collected Sadio Mane's pass before firing into the bottom-left corner after 12 minutes.

Choupo-Moting looked to have taken the game away from Hertha with his quickfire double, responding to Leon Goretzka's blocked shot to finish below Oliver Christensen before prodding home following a goalmouth scramble one minute later.

But Hertha responded in excellent fashion as Lukebakio volleyed Marco Richter's cross beyond Neuer and they reduced the deficit further when Benjamin Pavard pushed Selke in the area, the forward then converting from the spot on the stroke of half-time.

Bayern were denied a fourth as Alphonso Davies was found to have been offside when Marc-Oliver Kempf put through his own net after the break, before the Bayern left-back limped from the field after appearing to sustain a hamstring injury.

The second half was played out at a far slower pace than the first, with Nagelsmann's side holding on to their slender advantage after producing a controlled performance.

Manuel Neuer is expected to return from his seven-match injury absence for Bayern Munich's trip to Hertha Berlin on Saturday, according to Julian Nagelsmann.

A shoulder injury has kept Neuer sidelined since Bayern's dramatic 2-2 draw with Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund last month, causing concern for both club and country.

While the goalkeeper's absence led to speculation he could miss Germany's World Cup opener against Japan on November 23, Nagelsmann repeatedly dismissed those concerns while urging caution over his return.

That approach looks to have paid off, with Nagelsmann revealing on Friday that Neuer was likely to replace Sven Ulreich between the sticks in the German capital.

"If the final training session goes well, Manu will come along and also play," he said at a pre-match news conference. "I assume it will, but we'll see how the shoulder reacts. This week went well.

"We didn't consciously wait longer, we just waited until he was pain-free. When you start again after an injury, there is always some risk, but I don't calculate that, it's the doctors. 

"If they give the clearance, [the risk] is obviously so small so that he can play, but anything can happen when you have a bruised shoulder. Football is a contact sport, so you can never rule everything out."

While Neuer's return is a huge boost for Bayern – who are one point adrift of surprise Bundesliga leaders Union Berlin, they will be without Thomas Muller and Matthijs de Ligt at the Olympiastadion.

"Thomas and Matthijs are still out. Matthijs' knee reacted again, so we could not increase [his workload]," Nagelsmann added.

"It was originally the idea [for De Ligt to return], but unfortunately it doesn't work. That's why he won't be flying to Berlin, the same with Thomas. The plan is for them to come back during the week."

Bayern finished their Champions League group-stage campaign with maximum points by beating Inter 2-0 last time out, becoming the first side to achieve that feat in consecutive seasons.

That means Bayern will be paired with one of Liverpool, Club Brugge, Milan or Paris Saint-Germain in Monday's last-16 draw, and Nagelsmann believes none of those sides will want to face them.

Asked about the prospect of meeting Liverpool, he said: "There are easier draws, but you can also turn the tables. There aren't too many teams who want to play against us. 

"It's all very hypothetical, the next Champions League game is in a few months. The current form of Liverpool, or us, or Milan, or PSG or Brugge is not decisive. 

"Until then, a lot will happen. I also read all of this, I know who our potential opponents are and I have an opinion on all of them. But I'm not making the choice, so we'll wait and see."

Hertha Berlin winger Jean-Paul Boetius will undergo surgery on Friday after tests revealed the Dutchman has a testicular tumour.

The 28-year-old, capped once by the Netherlands, is a former Feyenoord and Basel player who joined Hertha in August after a four-year spell with Mainz.

His club said in a statement: "Jean-Paul Boetius has been diagnosed with a testicular tumour following the results of a urological test on Wednesday, and will be out for the foreseeable future. The 28-year-old will undergo an operation on Friday."

Fredi Bobic, Hertha's managing director of sport, backed Boetius to make a full recovery.

Bobic said: "As tough as it is to hear at first, we are full of hope that Jean-Paul will be able to recover and return to us as soon as possible.

"He will receive our full support, until he returns. The Hertha family are by his side and wish him all the best."

The news for Boetius follows Borussia Dortmund striker Sebastien Haller being found to have a testicular tumour in July, just weeks after joining from Ajax. Haller had surgery and has since undergone chemotherapy.

Deadline day has seen major transfers aplenty, with clubs across Europe pushing to complete final pieces of business before the window slams shut until 2023.

Barcelona have terminated Martin Braithwaite's contract, the forward widely expected to join Espanyol, while in France, Abdou Diallo completed a switch to RB Leipzig to begin an exodus from Paris Saint-Germain.

Further deals for both clubs are also on the cards, with a frantic end to the window expected in the final hours.

Premier League's power push

PSG's exodus was of benefit to English sides, Fulham signing Layvin Kurzawa on loan and Everton bringing Idrissa Gueye back to Merseyside three years after he left for the French capital. Gueye said: "There is no better feeling than coming back home. I've followed the team every week and watched how they play. For me, there is no better place than Everton so that's why I chose to come back here."

Fulham have also signed former Chelsea and Arsenal playmaker Willian on a free transfer.

Nottingham Forest hit number 19 for the window, drafting in Willy Boly from Wolves, while Southampton saw Jack Stephens move across the south coast to join Bournemouth on loan.

Arsenal's quest for a new midfielder has seen attention turn to Aston Villa's Douglas Luiz, though the Gunners face a stern test with bids reportedly rebuffed from the side they defeated 2-1 on Wednesday.

Chelsea look set to bring one of the long-running sagas of the window to a close, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang poised to join from Barcelona. Marcos Alonso is expected to move to Camp Nou as part of that deal and the Blues may sell Billy Gilmour to Brighton and Hove Albion.

One player not on the move, however, was Joao Pedro as he confirmed he would remain at Watford amid reported interest from Newcastle United and Everton.

Europe's eye for business

On the continent, Julian Weigl moved to Borussia Monchengladbach on loan from Benfica. 

Free agent Florian Grillitsch has joined Ajax, who are said to have turned down approaches from Chelsea and Everton for Edson Alvarez and Mohammed Kudus respectively.

Krzysztof Piatek also departed Germany, leaving Hertha Berlin for Serie A side Salertina, and was followed to Italy by Aster Vranckx, joining Milan on loan from Wolfsburg.

The Serie A champions are not yet finished, with an announcement confirming the capture of Sergino Dest from Barcelona expected imminently.

In Spain, Luca Zidane, son of Zinedine Zidane, joined second-tier outfit Eibar on a free transfer following his exit from Rayo Vallecano and Ilaix Moriba joined Valencia on loan from Leipzig, with Gennaro Gattuso's side also closing in on signing Justin Kluivert from Roma following the collapse of a proposed move to the Premier League.

Real Sociedad were also in on the late action, landing forward Umar Sadiq from Tenerife, the Nigerian likely to be a replacement for Alexander Isak.

Another Bundesliga campaign kicks off on Friday after a frantic close-season saw Germany's top flight robbed of its two biggest stars.

Bayern Munich superstar Robert Lewandowski left for Barcelona, while fellow striking sensation Erling Haaland departed Borussia Dortmund as expected for Manchester City.

What do these moves do to shake up the Bundesliga, then? Perhaps not an awful lot...

Stats Perform AI has predicted the outcome of the coming campaign, estimating the likelihood of teams finishing in each position informed by their expected results in each match.

These are calculated using betting odds and Stats Perform's team rankings – based on historical and recent team performances – and have thrown up some interesting results, even if the title race is a little too predictable.

MANE TO MAINTAIN BAYERN DOMINANCE

Lewandowski's exit was offset by the arrival of Sadio Mane at Bayern, and Stats Perform AI expects Julian Nagelsmann's side to again charge clear at the top of the table.

Bayern have won 10 consecutive titles, so perhaps it is no surprise they are given an 84.93 per cent chance of taking the trophy home again in May.

That figure makes Bayern the most likely champions across all of Europe's top five leagues, with nearest contenders Dortmund only in with a 6.01 per cent shot.

RB Leipzig (4.64 per cent), Bayer Leverkusen (3.38 per cent) lead a group of 10 other clubs who are given at least a slim hope of winning the championship.

For six teams – including 2003-04 champions Werder Bremen and 2006-07 victors Stuttgart – their title tilt is over before a ball has even been kicked.

 

SCRAMBLE OUTSIDE THE TOP FOUR

Unfortunately, the top-four tussle appears as predictable as Bayern's coronation.

The champions will of course occupy one Champions League spot – their 99.53 per cent chance again the greatest across the top five leagues – while Dortmund (76.78 per cent), Leipzig (72.2 per cent) and Leverkusen (62.98 per cent) also look secure, forecast second, third and fourth respectively.

That means a return to Europe's elite competition for all of those who have qualified this year, even if Leipzig have leapfrogged Leverkusen.

Stats Perform AI suggests Union Berlin (4.66 per cent) and Freiburg (8.22 per cent) – one and three points outside the top four last term – have missed their shot, with Borussia Monchengladbach (22.94 per cent) and Eintracht Frankfurt (21.5 per cent) the most likely gatecrashers despite last season finishing 10th and 11th.

Eintracht are also in the Champions League this term after winning the Europa League, but they are considered the team most likely to return to the second-tier competition (13.32 per cent).

There could be a real scrap for those final European places, though. All but four teams have at least a 1.0 per cent likelihood of qualifying for the Europa Conference League, with title favourites Bayern one of those four.

 

SCHALKE AND WERDER FACE A FIGHT

Schalke and Werder – two of the great names of German football – have returned to the top flight following successful promotion campaigns in the 2. Bundesliga last season, but they face tricky first seasons back in the big time.

The ceiling for Schalke is a little higher, so Stats Perform AI has them finishing in the relegation play-off place in 16th.

This is despite two teams – Augsburg (14.02 per cent) and Werder (13.9 per cent) – being more likely to qualify for that play-off than Schalke (13.3 per cent).

Werder are ranked 17th, while the outlook for Augsburg is awful; 14th in the Bundesliga in 2021-22, they have a new coach in ex-Dortmund II boss Enrico Maassen and are considered a strong 38.19 per cent shot for relegation.

Bochum (30.84 per cent) are also in a little trouble, with Hertha Berlin (11.62 per cent) backed to pull away and finish 12th after their play-off scare last time out.

Marvin Plattenhardt's second-half free-kick preserved Hertha Berlin's Bundesliga status as they fought back to beat Hamburg 2-1 on aggregate.

Hamburg won the first leg 1-0 last week, but they will remain in 2. Bundesliga after Felix Magath's side consigned them to a 2-0 defeat at Volksparkstadion on Monday.

Captain Dedryck Boyata levelled the play-off when he rose to head Plattenhardt's corner into the back of the net only four minutes in.

Hertha were in front after 63 minutes, when Plattenhardt's set-piece from wide on the right flew over Hamburg goalkeeper Daniel Heuer Fernandes and into the far corner of the net.

Stevan Jovetic could have sealed it when he went one-on-one with Fernandes but was denied by the keeper.

That miss did not prove to be costly as Hertha held on to remain in the top flight despite Lucas Tousart's stoppage-time sending off for a second bookable offence on a painful night for Hamburg.

There was a brief celebration from Magath, who was appointed as Hertha head coach until the end of the season in March, after his side stayed up at the expense of a club where he had great success as a player and also served as a coach.

Hamburg have been in the second tier since they dropped out of the Bundesliga for the first time in their history four years ago.

Stuttgart coach Pellegrino Matarazzo described his feelings of "ecstasy" after his side's Bundesliga survival was secured with a last-gasp 2-1 final-day win over Cologne.

VfB were destined for a relegation play-off entering injury time on Saturday with the scoreline locked at 1-1, despite rivals Hertha Berlin trailing at Borussia Dortmund.

Stuttgart needed only one goal to be sure of Bundesliga safety and, with goalkeeper Florian Muller – whose error had put them in such peril – up for a corner, it belatedly arrived.

Wataru Endo headed the 92nd-minute winner that sparked scenes of mass celebration and condemned Hertha to the play-off – not that Matarazzo knew the identity of his hero amid the carnage.

The coach raced onto the pitch along with his substitutes – and Stuttgart mascot Fritzle, a giant, fluffy crocodile.

"I don't even remember who scored the goal," Matarazzo told Sky Sport. "I don't remember what happened.

"Suddenly, I only see that Fritzle is lying on me. It was a nice moment for all players, for all the fans and everyone part of the club."

Stuttgart were grateful to Dortmund for their role in the escape, with Hertha having led until past the hour mark at the Westfalenstadion, when the departing Erling Haaland equalised.

"The boys certainly noticed the result," Matarazzo said. "With every goal Dortmund scored, the players had more courage.

"It was an absolute goal of will at the end. I'm very happy for the boys."

He added: "I’ve got a headache after all that shouting and cheering. That was ecstasy, a great moment, outstanding. I'm so happy for the lads. You never forget a moment like today."

Borussia Dortmund bade farewell to several players on an emotional day at Signal Iduna Park, with Erling Haaland signing off in style.

Haaland is moving to Manchester City ahead of the 2022-23 season, with that move confirmed this week.

The 21-year-old – who joined Dortmund from Salzburg in 2019-20 – was presented with a wreath prior to kick-off on Saturday, as Dortmund faced Hertha Berlin in their final Bundesliga game of the season.

He was not the only player given an ovation before the match, with Axel Witsel and Dan-Axel Zagadou, who are leaving the club following the expiration of their contracts, and departing loanees Marin Pongracic and Reinier Jesus also paraded on the pitch, along with Marcel Schmelzer, who has retired.

Long-time sporting director Michael Zorc is also retiring, and was given a huge send-off by the Dortmund crowd.

The enthusiasm in the stands was not initially matched on the pitch, as relegation-threatened Hertha took an 18th-minute lead through Ishak Belfodil's penalty.

However, Haaland got his farewell goal with 22 minutes of normal time remaining, coolly slamming in an 86th Dortmund strike from the spot, in what was his 89th appearance for the club.

Zagadou and Witsel were both subbed off with the game winding down and, fittingly, it was the latter's replacement who netted Dortmund's winner.

Marco Rose insisted Dortmund would "not stop playing football" in the wake of Haaland's departure and 17-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko showed the future is bright as he converted from Jude Bellingham's sublime pass.

Haaland was able to enjoy a standing ovation as he made way, with Dortmund's 2-1 victory also ensuring Hertha will be in the relegation play-off.

Dortmund's place in second was already sealed, but below them, Freiburg's attempt to get into the Champions League fell just short as they lost 2-1 to Bayer Leverkusen, who took third, while RB Leipzig finished fourth.

Freiburg still have the DFB-Pokal final against Leipzig to look forward to but ultimately slipped down to sixth, with Taiwo Awoniyi's late penalty sending Union Berlin into fifth with a 3-2 win over VfL Bochum.

Julian Nagelsmann was happy with Bayern Munich's performance as they swept aside Hertha Berlin 4-1 in the German capital on Sunday, particularly with the quality of their counter-pressing.

Goals from Corentin Tolisso, Thomas Muller, Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry restored Bayern's six-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga, despite a late reply from Jurgen Ekkelenkamp after a mistake from substitute Dayot Upamecano.

The reigning champions dominated the game, having 30 shots of which 19 were on target, registering an overall expected goals (xG) tally of 5.00.

"I'm very pleased with the performance," Nagelsmann said at a post-match news conference. "The first half was a bit stronger than in the return fixture. Our players were extremely sharp in their counter-pressing. We had many chances from our possession.

"In the second half, Hertha were a bit better. Overall, it's a deserved win and a very good game from us."

 

Muller was also impressed by the team's efforts, especially in creating the number of chances they did.

"We played well. We had a lot of attacking players on the pitch," the 32-year-old said after scoring his sixth league goal of the campaign.

"We were looking forward to the game because we knew what we were going to do today. On the other hand, of course, you never know how an attacking wing pairing of Coman and Gnabry will work."

Muller added, quoted on Bayern's official website: "The first half was maybe even a bit better than the second because we had more control.

"Our counter-pressing was a bit better, we allowed practically nothing. We had Berlin pinned down right from the start and let nothing go to waste, and had chance after chance. A very good afternoon of football."

Bayern Munich restored their six-point lead at the Bundesliga summit with an extremely comfortable 4-1 win over Hertha Berlin on Sunday. 

The reigning champions saw their advantage halved when Borussia Dortmund beat Hoffenheim on Saturday, but it did not look like remaining at three points once Corentin Tolisso opened the scoring at the Olympiastadion.

Thomas Muller doubled Bayern's lead before the break and, after a string of impressive saves, Alexander Schwolow gifted Leroy Sane a tap-in with a wayward pass across the face of his own goal.

Serge Gnabry added a fourth as the visitors' relentless pressure finally told in the closing 15 minutes, though Jurgen Ekkelenkamp lobbed home a consolation 35 seconds after being subbed on.

Tolisso had a goal ruled out for offside by the VAR in the second minute, with Schwolow making saves from Sane, Kingsley Coman and Robert Lewandowski to keep the game level midway through the first half.

After Ishak Belfodil threatened for the hosts, Tolisso stooped to head Coman's left-wing delivery into the bottom-right corner and give Bayern a deserved lead.

Tolisso missed an open goal and Schwolow kept out Lewandowski, but Bayern got their second on the stroke of half-time when an unmarked Muller guided Joshua Kimmich's free-kick home.

Suat Serdar was unable to hit the target from six yards out, and Bayern were out of sight when Schwolow's pass to Linus Gechter was intercepted by Sane, who was left with a simple finish into a vacant net.

Gechter did well to clear a looping effort from Gnabry off the line, but the winger was not to be denied again, drilling home a fine finish for Bayern's second goal in four minutes.

Dayot Upamecano had not even been on the pitch for a minute when he sold Manuel Neuer short with a back pass and, after the keeper thwarted Stevan Jovetic, Ekkelenkamp lofted in the follow-up to complete the scoring.

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann remains unsure on the progress of Manuel Neuer's contract negotiations but heaped praise on the "outstanding" goalkeeper.

Neuer has made 300 appearances in the Bundesliga for Bayern since moving from Schalke and holds the record for the most clean sheets in the German top flight (209), having surpassed Oliver Kahn (196) in 2021.

But the Germany international's current contract in Munich expires at the end of the next season, when he will be aged 37, leading to questions over his future.

While Nagelsmann was unable to provide an update on the situation, he insisted that the 35-year-old can continue performing for many years to come.

"I don't know [about negotiations] but I know that he still has a contract and is an outstanding goalkeeper," he told reporters at Friday's pre-match news conference ahead of a trip to Hertha Berlin on Sunday.

"You could see right away that he played an outstanding game against Cologne. He will keep this quality for a few more years."

Asked about the competition, or lack of, between Neuer and Alexander Nubel, the Bayern head coach responded: "As long as he's playing at this level, it's difficult for any player to get past him. 

"Manuel is still the best goalkeeper because he plays every part of the goalkeeping game very consistently.

"I can't imagine it stopping abruptly at 36. We can analyse the situation when the time comes. Both are currently playing and are satisfied."

 

The reigning Bundesliga champions head to Berlin six points clear of Borussia Dortmund at the top after a Robert Lewandowski hat-trick inspired them to a 4-0 win over Cologne.

Hertha have won just one of their last 21 league meetings with the Bavarian side, while Nagelsmann has not lost any of his 12 top-flight clashes with them as a coach.

Only Christoph Daum, against Bochum, has faced an opponent more often (20) without losing a single time but Nagelsmann downplayed the importance of his record against Sunday's opponents.

"It's more of a coincidence," he added on his success against Hertha. "We didn't always play exceptionally well in Berlin. If you have a positive record, you should make sure that it's like that remains.

"They play significantly more football than before, more flat balls, but still a lot of chip balls to [Ishak] Belfodil, who is one of the most under-rated strikers in the league.

"He works well with his body, it's incredibly difficult to defend. 

"With [Marco] Richter and [Suat] Serdar, there are good footballers on the outside. It's more the footballing, courageous approach that [Tayfun] Korkut also demands. 

"The rest of the defence will be very important for us. In the end, you saw against Wolfsburg that there are a lot of spaces you can attack from, but they also defend much more actively and aggressively."

Despite Bayern's recent dominance, Nagelsmann insisted there is still potential for much improvement, though he feels their progress in Europe could depend on coronavirus.

"I'm satisfied, but we still have a lot of potential," he added. "The processes haven't worked consistently for several weeks. Me and the players take a critical look. 

"It's the case that the coronavirus issue is the season will affect how the teams get through. 

"There are no longer the extreme quarantine rules. Corona is a thing that you cannot influence very well. If you want to go far in the Champions League, you also have to be a little lucky with Corona quarantines."

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann lauded Robert Lewandowski, labelling him a Bundesliga great following his hat-trick in the 5-0 rout of Hertha Berlin.

Lewandowski was in ruthless form on Saturday, scoring three goals to lead Bayern to a crushing win at home to Hertha.

The Poland international, who has been linked with a move away, netted in his 13th successive Bundesliga match – only the late Gerd Muller (16, 1969-70) found the net in more consecutive league games than Lewandowski.

Lewandowski surpassed 300 goals for Bayern, reaching 301 in just his 333rd appearance for the German giants. It is a mark only surpassed by Muller (566 goals in 607 matches) in the club's history.

The 33-year-old forward (15) is second in the list of hat-trick scorers, behind only Muller (32).

"He is definitely one of the best in Bundesliga history," Nagelsmann told reporters post-match.

"You would have to go through many of them, the league has been around for quite a while. But he is very consistent, has a great ability to get himself between the lines in possession. That's what makes him hard to catch.

"He's not just someone who waits for the balls up front, he participates in the game and creates a numerical advantage in the box. He is really dangerous because he can finish with all body parts really well."

"He does that with quality and has a great character. If you win so much like he did in the last two years and are still as hungry from the first game, if you have these transfer rumours revolving around you, which is normal for him, and then still perform as hungry as he does, this is extraordinary.

"No question. He's probably top of the top."

Teenage sensation and Germany international Jamal Musiala was also on target for Bayern after Thomas Muller opened the scoring inside six minutes against Hertha.

On the 18-year-old Musiala, Nagelsmann added: "The best thing is his modesty and humility. He's not one to over-celebrate his performances but wants to keep going. I think this is a prerequisite for a great career if he keeps that modesty.

"He has incredible qualities in one-on-one situations and a good finish. This is hard to find in today's youth teams: players with a certain football ground mentality. He has that and I don't want him to lose it but my biggest task will be making him keep it."

Bayern are unbeaten in 29 Bundesliga home games (W24, D5) – since moving to the Allianz Arena in 2005, the club have only had a longer streak without defeat in top-flight home games from March 2016 to April 2018 (38 fixtures).

Robert Lewandowski created a new personal best as his hat-trick helped Bayern Munich to a commanding 5-0 win over Hertha Berlin at the Allianz Arena.

The Pole netted in his 13th successive Bundesliga match, with Thomas Muller and Jamal Musiala also on target at the start of each half as Julian Nagelsmann’s men moved level on points with leaders Bayer Leverkusen and Freiburg.

Only the late Gerd Muller (16, 1969-70) has found the net in more consecutive league matches than Lewandowski, who surpassed his previous best streak of 12 from the 2012-13 season.

Meanwhile, Bayern are now unbeaten in 27 home league matches against Hertha, who are the only side yet to register a point in the German top flight this term.

Bayern edged in front after just six minutes. A quick counter culminated in Lewandowski dummying Alphonso Davies’ pass for the onrushing Muller to clinically tuck away his first league goal of the season.  
 
The lead was doubled in the 35th minute. Lewandowski’s initial header from Serge Gnabry’s centre crashed against the crossbar, but he reacted quickest by rising above the defender to nod home the rebound. 
 
Fresh from scoring twice in the 12-0 DFB-Pokal demolition of fifth-tier Bremer in midweek, Musiala got in on the act four minutes after the break as he neatly bent a shot into the far corner. 
 
Lewandowski grabbed his second 20 minutes from time. Substitute Leroy Sane played a neat one-two with Muller before squaring for the striker, who made no mistake from close range. 
 
And the Pole completed his treble with six minutes remaining; heading home after Tanguy Nianzou cushioned Joshua Kimmich’s corner invitingly into his path.

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