What the papers say

Paris St Germain and Newcastle are believed to be leading the chase for Kalvin Phillips. According to The Telegraph, the Manchester City midfielder is likely to leave the club this month in search of regular football, having made just two starts for City since his £45million move from Leeds 18 months ago.

The Hull Daily Mail reports Burnley winger Manuel Benson has entered talks with Hull City. The paper says the development comes after the two sides verbally agreed on a loan deal until the end of the season.

Manchester City are reportedly among a wealth of teams interested in 18-year-old Lille defender Leny Yoro. Le 10 Sport, via the Manchester Evening News, says Liverpool and Paris St Germain are also tracking Yoro, but Lille are unlikely to entertain any offers under £78m.

And the Liverpool Echo reports Liverpool are keeping a close eye on Genoa midfielder Morten Frendrup, but are not expected to make a move this month.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Kylian Mbappe: Le Parisian says Real Madrid and Liverpool both want the Paris St Germain striker, who is out of contract at the end of the season.

Joshua Kimmich: Manchester United and Liverpool are the frontrunners to nab the Bayern Munich midfielder, according to AS.

Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Real Sociedad all booked their places in the knockout stages of the Champions League with two games to spare on a dramatic night of European action.

Bayern made it four wins out of four in Group A but only after a frantic finish in their 2-1 win over Galatasaray.

The visitors had the ball in the net just after the hour but Lucas Torreira was offside, and Bayern took the lead when Harry Kane flicked in Joshua Kimmich’s free-kick with 10 minutes to go, with the goal awarded following a VAR check after initially being ruled offside.

Kane then doubled the lead with his 25th career Champions League goal, turning in Mathys Tel’s cross in the 86th minute, and they needed the cushion as Cedric Bakambu scored for Galatasaray in stoppage time.

Despite defeat Galatasaray remain second in the group after Manchester United suffered a costly 4-3 defeat in Copenhagen, blowing a 2-0 lead after Marcus Rashford was sent off.

Rasmus Hojlund’s early brace against his former club put United in control despite the loss of Jonny Evans to injury, but the night changed when Rashford saw red for a challenge on Elias Jelert following a VAR intervention in the 42nd minute.

Ex-Southampton forward Mohamed Elyounoussi pulled one back before Diogo Goncalves levelled from the penalty spot after a Harry Maguire handball deep into first-half stoppage time.

Bruno Fernandes restored United’s lead with a 69th-minute penalty after Lukas Lerager handled, but the Copenhagen midfielder made amends with an 83rd minute equaliser before Roony Bardghji won it four minutes later, leaving United bottom of the group before their trip to Istanbul.

Real Madrid cruised through with a 3-0 win over Braga. They overcame an early scare when Alvaro Djalo missed a penalty for the visitors after Lucas Vazquez fouled Cristian Borja just four minutes in, but once Brahim Diaz put them in front in the 27th minute there was no looking back.

Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo added to the scoreline with two goals in five minutes early in the second half, and there was no way back for the visitors.

The other Group C game between Napoli and Union Berlin ended 1-1 as David Fofana’s first Union goal – and the club’s first away from home in the Champions League – cancelled out Matteo Politano’s opener.

Inter edged out RB Salzburg 1-0 in Austria to secure their progress, with the game decided by Lautaro Martinez’s 84th-minute penalty after Mads Bidstrup handled in the area.

And that result also saw Real Sociedad go through from Group D after their 3-1 win over Benfica earlier in the evening.

Early goals from Mikel Merino and Mikel Oyarzabal had Sociedad in control after just 11 minutes and it was 3-0 10 minutes later as Ander Barrenetxea fired into the roof of the net.

Brais Mendez hit the post with a penalty just before the half hour and Rafa Silva pulled one back for Benfica early in the second half, but Sociedad comfortably took the points.

Arsenal are in control of Group B after goals from Leandro Trossard and Bukayo Saka earned a 2-0 win over Sevilla.

The Gunners top the group with nine points, four clear of PSV Eindhoven and Lens, who are level on five after Luuk de Jong’s 12th-minute header was enough for 1-0 win over Lens, who had substitute Morgan Guilavogui sent off late on.

Serge Gnarby bagged a double as Bayern Munich kept their grasp on the Bundesliga title race with a 6-0 rout against relegation-threatened Schalke at Allianz Arena.

Thomas Tuchel's side claimed a comfortable win to go four points clear at the top on Saturday, although Borussia Dortmund could slice that gap when they host Borussia Monchengladbach later on.

Thomas Reis' visitors offered little as Thomas Muller's pinpoint finish and a Joshua Kimmich penalty placed Bayern in full control before the half-time whistle in Bavaria.

Gnabry's brace after the break prefaced late strikes for Mathys Tel and Noussair Mazraoui, further compounding Schalke's misery, as the hosts continued their charge towards an 11th straight title.

Having handed Schalke an 8-0 thrashing on their last visit to Munich in 2020, Bayern looked like they might repeat that feat after Muller, Gnabry and Kingsley Coman all missed early chances.

The visitors saw their resistance broken 21 minutes in however when the former curled Leroy Sane's deft ball into the bottom-left corner, before matters worsened.

A VAR check awarded Bayern a penalty eight minutes later for a stray Cedric Brunner elbow on Jamal Musiala, with Kimmich sending Alexander Schwolow the wrong way from the spot.

Gnabry inflicted further damage after the interval, seizing Joao Cancelo's cut-back pass to drill past the goalkeeper, a quarter-hour before he rounded him for a second.

Tel added a late fifth from Musiala's pass to further pad the scoreline, before Mazraoui capitalised on torrid defending for a final strike in injury-time.

Erling Haaland scored his 48th goal of the season after missing a penalty as Manchester City drew 1-1 at Bayern Munich to cruise into the semi-finals of the Champions League.

Haaland was on target in a f3-0 first-leg victory that put City in control of the quarter-final and he struck again to open the scoring at Allianz Arena on Wednesday.

The prolific striker had missed a spot-kick for the first time in two years in the first half, but he silenced the Bayern faithful after the break.

Joshua Kimmich ended City's 10-match winning run by converting a harshly awarded penalty before Thomas Tuchel was sent off as Pep Guardiola, a former Bayern boss, saw his side seal a 4-1 aggregate win and a last-four tie against holders Real Madrid.

Kingsley Coman was a huge threat down the right as Bayern started with a great tempo and Leroy Sane should have put them in front when he fired wide after racing clear.

There was drama when Dayot Upamecano was shown a red card by referee Clement Turpin for a professional foul on Haaland, but the defender was given a reprieve as the Norway striker was offside.

Upamecano breathed another sigh of relief when Haaland put his spot-kick over the crossbar nine minutes before half-time after the Bayern centre-back was harshly penalised for handball.

The Bavarian giants continued to look dangerous, but City produced a devastating counter-attack to take the lead on the night after Ederson denied Coman from a tight angle.

Kevin De Bruyne was the provider, slipping in Haaland to clinically drill beyond Yann Sommer with his left foot after Upamecano slipped 12 minutes into the second half.

Sadio Mane replaced Sane, the pair who were involved in an altercation after the first leg, before Mathys Tel had a goal ruled out for offside.

Kimmich converted from 12 yards out after Manuel Akanji was unfortunate to have been penalised for handball seven minutes from time, with Tuchel then seeing red for his touchline antics as Bayern crashed out.

Thomas Tuchel described Bayern Munich's 1-1 Bundesliga draw with Hoffenheim on Saturday as a "big step backwards".  

Benjamin Pavard had given the hosts an early lead at the Allianz Arena, yet Andrej Kramaric sealed a point for Hoffenheim with a wonderful free-kick in the 71st minute.

Despite the setback, Bayern still retain a two-point advantage at the Bundesliga summit after Borussia Dortmund could only draw 3-3 with 10-man Stuttgart.

The result follows the heavy defeat to Manchester City in their Champions League quarter-final first leg in midweek, and Tuchel was left frustrated at his side's inability to get fans back onside ahead of the second leg on Wednesday.

"We didn't have enough speed, too few changes of pace, and we made mistakes," he said.

"We didn't get any security in. We started to defend carelessly. The display today was not enough; it was a disappointment for me. We have a lot of room for improvement today.

"It's extremely amazing because I felt the energy in the training, but it wasn't there on the field.

"We have to process it first, but it's definitely a big step backwards. Today was the moment to inspire fire and confidence. We didn't succeed at all.

"It's going to be difficult on Wednesday anyway [in the second leg against City], it's not going to get any easier now.

"We missed an opportunity to put ourselves and the fans in the mood to believe in it at all."

Bayern midfielder Joshua Kimmich endured a frustrating game, losing possession a team-high 16 times, and was at a loss to explain why Bayern struggled so much.

"Today was an absolutely bad performance from us, we know that," he said.

"After a 3-0 defeat you would actually think that you want to show a reaction. Especially in the Bundesliga, where it's very tight and where we need every point.

"I can't explain why we put in such a performance on the pitch today. It's lack of concentration, recklessness, we're not really there. We played without energy and then you can't win either.

"We all know that we need a completely different performance against City. We know we can do it too, but we have to put it on the pitch."

Joshua Kimmich apologised for his "unsportsmanlike" behaviour after celebrating Bayern Munich's win over Freiburg in front of the home fans.

Bayern edged Saturday's tight Bundesliga contest 1-0 at Europa-Park Stadion thanks to Matthijs de Ligt's long-range strike early in the second half.

The victory came four days on from Bayern's elimination from the DFB-Pokal to the same side, which Freiburg took delight in reminding their opponents before the match.

Kimmich clenched both fists and gestured towards home supporters after Bayern exacted some revenge on Saturday, causing a mass confrontation on the pitch.

Freiburg midfielder Nicolas Hofler accused Kimmich of "unsportsmanlike and unnecessary" conduct and added his opposite number "should not feel the need to provoke fans".

When Hofler's comments were put to Kimmich after the match, the Germany international accepted he perhaps went too far with his celebrations.

"There were many emotions involved," he told reporters. "It was an important win for us – the DFB-Pokal defeat hurt deeply. 

"I got carried away; I shouldn't be doing that. You can say it was unsportsmanlike."

Asked what provoked his actions, Kimmich added: "During the warm-up, there was a 10-minute film about the Pokal game being shown [on the big screen]. 

"I can understand anyone who describes [my reaction] as unsportsmanlike. In the end it's just emotions."

 

Thomas Tuchel's side wasted some big chances either side of De Ligt's strike, but were also reliant on goalkeeper Yann Sommer producing a couple of important saves.

Freiburg were previously unbeaten in a club record 12 home games, but Bayern did enough to come away with a win that keeps them two points clear of Borussia Dortmund.

"We knew it would be a difficult game," head coach Tuchel said. "They were 12 games unbeaten at home and beat us in the Pokal midweek. 

"In the end, I think the win was deserved. We had big chances to score in both halves. I'm happy that we won and kept a clean sheet. It was so important."

De Ligt's long-ranger, which took a touch on its way past Mark Flekken, generated an expected goals (xG) value of just 0.02.

The centre-back took particular delight in scoring past his Netherlands international team-mate, who made seven saves either side of that winning goal.

"I always score against Mark in training, so I thought I'd just give it a try," De Ligt said. "Our performance was good, but we still have a lot of room for improvement."

Bayern have won two of their three games since Tuchel took charge and now turn focus to the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final with Manchester City.

"We have to be brave. We have to believe in ourselves, be smart, have tactical solutions and go to the limit of our physical efforts," Tuchel said of Tuesday's tie in Manchester. 

"City have been playing at an absolute top form for weeks. We need to regenerate and hope to have everyone fit."

Thomas Tuchel believes there is a positive energy around Bayern Munich as they begin the season's "weeks of truth" with Saturday's Klassiker against title rivals Borussia Dortmund.

Tuchel replaced Julian Nagelsmann at the Allianz Arena during the international break, with Bayern trailing BVB by one point and at risk of missing out on an 11th successive Bundesliga title.

The first game of the former Champions League winner's reign pits him against the club he led between 2015 and 2017, winning the DFB-Pokal in his second season at the helm. 

Despite enjoying limited time on the training ground with his new players, Tuchel believes Bayern are raring to go in their hunt for three major trophies.    

"Today was the first training session with everyone. I feel positive energy and great anticipation. We are very aware of the importance of the game," Tuchel said on Friday.

"These are the weeks of truth at FC Bayern and now it's about titles. Normally Bayern can focus a little more on the Champions League at this stage of the season because they already have a lead in the Bundesliga.

"That's not the case this year and that's why every game counts now. When you arrive at Bayern in April and still are in all competitions, you'll be fighting for all three titles. 

"Of course, the quality and performance of the team should be right and should improve, but in the end it's about the titles."

Nagelsmann's exit came amid suggestions all was not right behind the scenes in Munich, but several members of the 35-year-old's backroom team will remain in place under Tuchel.

Denying he had been in contact with Nagelsmann, Tuchel said: "I want to gather my own impressions. 

"Some people went with Nagelsmann and some stayed, but I don't see why working with me shouldn't work. 

"I would like to form my own opinions and then draw my own conclusions from them. But the impressions have been very positive in all departments.

"Eat, sleep, work and repeat are the keywords. It feels like it has been a month's work and I have been pretty tired every day, but it's still good."

Nagelsmann's dismissal came as a surprise to several Bayern players, with midfielder Joshua Kimmich describing him as an "outstanding" coach while on international duty with Germany.

Asked about those comments, Tuchel said: "His disappointment is understandable. It's not a problem to have a close relationship with a coach. 

"Joshua is a player who embodies Bayern. He is a very important player. It's a gift to work with players like that. Most of the time, players' feedback is welcome. 

"Along with Manuel Neuer and Thomas Muller, he is a very important player. I didn't feel any reservations [from them]."

Bayern Munich and Germany midfielder Joshua Kimmich lauded Julian Nagelsmann as "easily" being among his top three coaches ahead of the 35-year-old's expected dismissal by the Bundesliga giants.

Strong reports began to circulate on Thursday suggesting Bayern would remove Nagelsmann from his post despite club officials recently describing him as a "long-term project".

It was stated Bayern had made their decision and communicated it internally, with the news expected to be made official on Friday as the club apparently prepared to appoint Thomas Tuchel.

Many of Bayern's players are away on international duty this week, and Kimmich – among their most senior stars – appeared in Germany's pre-match press conference on Friday ahead of a friendly against Peru.

While unwilling to openly discuss the rumours, he was unequivocal in his regard for Nagelsmann.

"It's generally understandable that it's a hot topic, but there was no confirmation from the club, so I ask for your understanding that I won't say much more about it," he said.

"Of course, such talk concerns you [as a Bayern player]. It's about the coaching position in your own club, he's the coach you work with every day.

"But that shouldn't play a role in [Saturday]'s game or in training here."

He added: "Julian Nagelsmann is an outstanding coach.

"I've had a lot of top coaches now, but I'd say he's easily in the top three of my previous coaches. But I can't say anything about the current state of affairs."

The situation appears to have come out of the blue given Bayern won the Bundesliga last season, are firmly in the title race this term, and remain in contention in the Champions League.

However, it has been suggested the club's hierarchy are unimpressed by the team's form since the turn of the year, dropping 12 points in 10 Bundesliga games.

That has contributed to them falling a point behind rivals Borussia Dortmund, their next opponents in Der Klassiker on April 1.

There is also a theory Bayern have been pressed into action because of Tuchel's availability – or the possibility he might have soon become unavailable again.

The former Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Dortmund coach has been out of work since September but was being strongly with Tottenham – who are expected to part ways with Antonio Conte – and PSG, where Christophe Galtier's future is uncertain following Champions League elimination.

Nagelsmann's predecessor at Bayern was Hansi Flick, the current Germany head coach. Flick did not hide his shock at the situation on Friday, but was eager to ensure it did not become a distraction.

"We were very, very surprised by the headlines last night, but I don't think Bayern Munich has commented on that yet," Flick said.

"Out of respect for Julian and Bayern, I won't say anything on the subject during the press conference. That says it all."

He added: "It's not going to impact everyone. Still, it's my job to talk to all the players – I've already done that. Now we have to wait and see what really comes out in the end."

Xabi Alonso saluted the development of former team-mate Joshua Kimmich as the Bayer Leverkusen boss prepares for a reunion with Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich on Sunday.

Almost six years have passed since Alonso retired as a player, bringing an illustrious on-field career to a close at Bayern, where he won three consecutive league titles.

Kimmich was making his way in the game during Alonso's three-season spell at the club, arriving from Stuttgart and becoming increasingly important to Bayern but still having plenty to improve in his game.

Now 28, Kimmich has matured into one of Europe's most complete midfielders, which is what Alonso expected he might become.

Asked whether he saw similarities between himself and Kimmich, Alonso said: "In terms of position, yes. When I saw Joshua for the first time, I knew he had a great future just based on his style of play, his personality and his character.

"He has developed really well. His passes are special, the way he distributes the ball as well as his vision on the pitch. I like the way he plays. He’s a super player in the way he presents himself."

There have been few playmakers as complete as Alonso in the past 20 years. Kimmich is not far off, and the Germany international has time in which to rival the Spaniard's trophy haul, which includes two Champions Leagues, two European Championships and a World Cup.

 

On Sunday, Alonso's Leverkusen will confront a Bayern side that should feature Kimmich. After a slow start under predecessor Gerardo Seoane, Leverkusen have shown huge improvement under Alonso, who is almost six months into his first top-flight coaching job.

Thomas Muller, Kingsley Coman and Kimmich were team-mates of Alonso, but the Leverkusen boss, a former Real Madrid and Liverpool star, does not see any obvious advantage from their past acquaintance.

"I do know them, but that doesn't make it easier," Alonso said, quoted on his club's website. "Our aim is to stop their players and make the game as difficult as possible for our opponents."

He will offer a few pointers, all the same.

"Yes, of course I can do that," Alonso said, "but it's always easier to say these things than to do them."

The last 16 of the Champions League gets underway on Tuesday with two potentially fascinating encounters.

Milan host Tottenham in the Rossoneri's first Champions League knockout game since the 2013-14 season, while two of the favourites in this year's competition, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich, face off in the French capital.

Neither Milan nor Spurs come into their first leg in the best form, with Stefano Pioli's side getting their first win in eight games on Friday against Torino, while their English opponents were thrashed 4-1 by Leicester City.

PSG are also faltering, having lost 3-1 at Monaco at the weekend, leading to fan protests and Presnel Kimpembe having to calm them down through a megaphone.

Bayern will hope to add to the problems of Christophe Galtier's men, who seem likely to be without Kylian Mbappe, but Julian Nagelsmann admitted his own players are "not in the flow" in spite of their 3-0 win against Bochum on Saturday.

Stats Perform has taken a look at some Opta numbers ahead of the first pair of Champions League knockout games.

Milan v Tottenham

This will be the fifth competitive meeting between Milan and Tottenham, with the Premier League side unbeaten across each of the previous four (W2 D2).

They last played each other in the 2010-11 campaign at the same stage of the Champions League. Spurs won 1-0 on aggregate, with Peter Crouch scoring the only goal of the tie.

Spurs boss Antonio Conte has won eight of his last nine games as a head coach against Milan (L1), between 2013 and 2021. Indeed, he has seen his side win and keep a clean sheet in each of his last three trips to face the Rossoneri away from home (2-0 in 2014, 2-0 in 2019 and 3-0 in 2021 – all in Serie A).

Conte will be looking to win consecutive away games in the Champions League for just the second time in his managerial career, having last done so in the 2012-13 campaign when he was at Juventus (1-0 v Shakhtar Donetsk and 3-0 v Celtic).

Olivier Giroud has been directly involved in six goals for Milan in the Champions League (four goals and two assists) – the last player with more in a single campaign in the competition for the club was Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 2011-12 season (nine – five goals and four assists).

Ivan Perisic has three assists in five appearances for Spurs in the Champions League, already his joint-most for a club among the four he has played for in the competition: three in 10 games for Bayern, one in 20 for Inter and none in 11 for Borussia Dortmund.

The three players to have recovered possession most often in the middle third of the pitch in the Champions League this season all play for either Milan or Spurs: Rodrigo Bentancur (34), Ismael Bennacer (32) and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (31), though Bentancur will be missing after suffering a season-ending knee injury at the weekend.

Paris Saint-Germain v Bayern Munich

PSG have faced Bayern on 11 previous occasions, with all of them coming in the Champions League. The teams are separated by just one victory (six for PSG and five for Bayern), while they have scored the same number of goals (15 each).

Among teams who have faced Bayern on 10+ occasions in the Champions League, PSG are the team with the highest win percentage against them (55).

Bayern won all six of their group games this season, scoring 18 goals and only conceding twice. The only previous occasion in which they won their first seven matches of a Champions League campaign was in the 2019-20 campaign, when they had a 100 per cent record (11/11) in the competition.

PSG have only failed to score in one of their last 32 home games in the Champions League (averaging 2.6 goals per game), though the exception was in a 1-0 defeat against Bayern in the 2020-21 quarter-final second leg.

Joshua Kimmich has won 76 per cent of his matches for Bayern in the Champions League (50/66). Among all players to make 50+ appearances in the competition, he is the only player to have featured on the winning side in more than three quarters of his games.

Since the start of the 2017-18 season – his first at PSG – Mbappe has been directly involved in 57 goals in 50 appearances in the Champions League (34 goals and 23 assists). Indeed, he is the only player with both 20+ goals and 20+ assists during this period. He will be a big miss should he not recover from injury in time, though he did train on Monday.

In the last two Champions League campaigns, only Robert Lewandowski (21), Mbappe (20) and Mohamed Salah (18) have been directly involved in more goals than Leroy Sane (17 – 10 goals, seven assists).

Lionel Messi has generated more shots following a carry (moving five or more metres with the ball) than any other player in the Champions League this season (14 – six shots and eight chances created).

Bayern Munich sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic scathingly branded Serge Gnabry "amateurish" for using a day off to attend Paris Fashion Week before turning in a disappointing performance on Tuesday.

The Bundesliga champions were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Koln, with Joshua Kimmich's 90th-minute screamer salvaging a point.

Gnabry started the match after finding himself in the media spotlight, with Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann saying his players can use their free time as they see fit, even if he hinted a degree of frustration with the winger going to Paris on Sunday.

But the Germany international was withdrawn at half-time following an underwhelming first-half display.

After the game, Salihamidzic was not shy about letting his thoughts on the matter be known.

"It's amateurish," Salihamidzic is quoted as saying by Kicker. "That's exactly what I don't like. It's exactly what Bayern Munich isn't.

"A day off is there to rest so that you can step on the gas again in the next game. We'll talk about that."

Nagelsmann was keen to clarify that Gnabry's extracurricular activities had nothing to do with him being withdrawn, however.

"Now, I'm not one for these tabloid issues. I evaluate what I see on the field, and I evaluate what I have on the bench for outstanding players," he told reporters.

"I had the feeling that we needed a breath of fresh air, also because of the changed basic structure at Koln, because it opened up a little more distance for the wide players.

"That's why we switched. It had nothing to do with everything else. I evaluate what I see and then try to make the right decision."

The result means Bayern's lead at the top of the table is four points – it was six heading into Tuesday, before second-placed RB Leipzig crushed Schalke 6-1.

Bayern resumed their season last week by drawing 1-1 with Leipzig, leaving them on two points from a possible six in 2023.

And captain Kimmich felt it was necessary to question the attitude of his team-mates following this latest setback.

"The second half was a bit better," he told Sat1. "The first half…we certainly have to talk about that in terms of approach, our willingness, our attitude.

"It's relatively easy to change – it's not that it's a matter of tactics or technique or fitness, it's just the willingness. I expect that we can get that changed relatively quickly."

Bayern are next in action on Saturday when they play host to Eintracht Frankfurt.

Joshua Kimmich's stunning 90th-minute equaliser spared Bayern Munich's blushes as the Bundesliga champions rescued a 1-1 draw at home to Koln on Tuesday.

Bayern had been on the verge of their first home league loss since last January before their captain took centre stage, though it was not enough to restore their six-point lead at the summit following RB Leipzig's 6-1 demolition of Schalke.

Ellyes Skhiri, who scored twice in Koln's remarkable 7-1 win over Werder Bremen on Saturday, put the Billy Goats ahead amid a purposeful opening.

Koln were under pressure for long periods thereafter, however, and they could not see the win out as Kimmich struck from distance at the end.

Joshua Kimmich joked he may have to play until the age of 45 to lift an international trophy as he rued Germany's dire showing at the 2022 World Cup.  

Having been eliminated in the group stage at Russia 2018 and fallen to England in the last 16 at Euro 2020, Germany arrived in Qatar in the midst of a dismal run of tournament showings.

Hansi Flick's side were left with a familiar sinking feeling as they failed to recover from a shock defeat to Japan in their Group E opener, missing out on a place in the round of 16 despite taking four points from games against Spain and Costa Rica.

Bayern Munich midfielder Kimmich has now been a Germany regular at four major tournaments, and their shortcomings have left him with a "bitter" taste.

Kimmich is back in Doha for a mid-season training camp with Bayern, and asked in a press conference about Germany's chances of winning a major trophy as they look ahead to hosting Euro 2024, he said: "I just have to keep playing until I'm 45, then we will, hopefully."

Reflecting on Germany's World Cup exit, the 27-year-old added: "We had big objectives and wanted to reach something. 

"Eventually, we got knocked out early again. After 2018, the Euros and now another tournament like this, it is very bitter.

"You don't get that many chances with the national team, so this is not something you can just easily forget and move on from because it is what it is."

Kimmich believes Germany could have grown into the tournament had they qualified from their group, but he acknowledges other sides – including eventual champions Argentina – arrived in Qatar in better form.

"I thought that in 2018, many things weren't working, also internally on our team. Against England [at Euro 2020], it felt like a 50-50 game," Kimmich said.

"Last year, I don't want to say everything was great but in the end, those 30 minutes against Japan cost us the tournament. If we had drawn there, we would definitely have progressed.

"We were also missing self-confidence, especially when I look at other teams. Italy before the Euros had a long streak of unbeaten games, Argentina as well [before the World Cup].

"This is something we have to aim for. We can't just start with that once the tournament starts. We should start that in March. 

"We have to win our games, gain self-confidence and gain some self-understanding for our processes. Then we have to also bring that to the pitch and be able to rely on that."

Joshua Kimmich described Germany's humiliating World Cup exit as the worst moment of his career as Japan and Spain progressed following a dramatic Group E finale on Thursday.

Germany began their final fixture against Costa Rica knowing a win would likely take them into the last 16 if Japan failed to beat Spain, and Hansi Flick's men held up their end of the bargain with a 4-2 victory.

However, Ritsu Doan and Ao Tanaka scored as Japan staged a remarkable comeback to beat La Roja, ensuring they emerged as surprise group winners and ending Germany's bid for a fifth World Cup triumph.

Germany have now failed to progress beyond the group stage at consecutive World Cups after doing so on each of their previous 16 appearances at the tournament, leaving Kimmich devastated.

"For me personally, this is the worst day of my career. I'm afraid I'll fall into a hole," Kimmich told reporters. "It makes you think these failures are connected to my person.

"This is definitely the most difficult day of my career for me. The second time being eliminated at a World Cup, in between we had the Euros, where we were eliminated early. 

"That is bitter and there have been many missed opportunities within the last four years."

Germany reached the semi-finals of Kimmich's first major tournament at Euro 2016, but they have since fallen at the first hurdle at two World Cups and suffered a last-16 defeat to England at Euro 2020.

Costa Rica briefly took a surprise lead when Manuel Neuer put through his own net with 20 minutes remaining on Thursday, and Germany have now gone 12 major tournament games without a clean sheet (World Cup/Euros) – their longest ever streak.

Kimmich's fellow midfielder Ilkay Gundogan hit out at Die Nationalmannschaft's defending as he called on his team-mates to reflect on their shortcomings.

"We concede goals too easily, we lose balls too easily and up front we miss goalscoring chances too easily," Gundogan said.

"Of course, as Germany, we have to have different aspirations, so we have to take a good look at ourselves. 

"We just didn't manage to do our best as a group, or maybe individually. We have to question what the reasons were and everyone has to look in the mirror and tell themselves that it wasn't enough."

Joshua Kimmich's "childhood dream" has been somewhat ruined by Qatar hosting the World Cup, with "no real joy" for Germany in the build-up to the tournament.

Bayern Munich's Kimmich made three appearances at right-back as Germany crashed to a group-stage exit at Russia 2018, with Qatar 2022 proving his first real opportunity since making a name as a midfielder.

But the 27-year-old has been left wanting with the ongoing concerns surrounding the human rights record in Qatar, where same-sex relationships are prohibited and homosexuality is illegal.

Kimmich remains underwhelmed due to the ongoing off-field distractions, though he assured Germany are firing on all fronts ahead of Wednesday's Group E opener against Japan.

"I would like to be able to look forward to a World Cup, even if it takes place here," Kimmich said on Tuesday.

"It's a huge dream for all of us, we're all on fire. We all want to play a good tournament, we all want to win tomorrow and yes, it's not our fault where the World Cup takes place."

Germany have made their dissatisfaction with the hosts known as Die Mannschaft supporters have repeatedly voiced their opposition to the tournament in the Middle East.

"I don't feel like there's any real joy there," added Kimmich on the lack of interest in the tournament back home.

Kimmich, like many other big-name footballing stars, promised to speak out where he sees fit, though he suggested the backlash to FIFA's 2010 decision on Qatar has come too late.

He continued: "We've talked a lot about the fact the World Cup was awarded here.

"That was 12 years ago, when I was 15, and now I somehow always have to comment on it. I don't know if it's always justified.

"But we also have to manage this balancing act of focusing on the sporting side. I mean regardless of where the World Cup is taking place, it's a World Cup, it's the biggest competition for us footballers there is.

"It's a huge childhood dream to play tomorrow, and yet somehow I have the feeling that it's always being talked down a bit or that you can't really look forward to it."

Japan will mark coach Flick's first game at FIFA's top tournament, too, and the German acknowledged a tough task awaits at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.

"I have to out myself as a bit of a fan of Japanese football. They are really doing it well," Flick said. 

"We see the quality they have in the Bundesliga with Eintracht Frankfurt's [Daichi] Kamada playing a great season or [Wataru] Endo, who is one of the best midfielders in the Bundesliga.

"It is a very big task but we go into the match prepared and look forward to it."

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