Bayern Munich pair Thomas Muller and Joshua Kimmich have gone into isolation after testing positive to COVID-19.

The German champions announced the news on Saturday, with Muller and Kimmich having both been in the starting XI for Friday's 4-0 Bundesliga win over Bayer Leverkusen.

Bayern said the pair had tested positive on Saturday, were asymptomatic, doing well and isolating at their respective homes.

The Bundesliga outfit are due to face Czech club Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League at Allianz Arena on Tuesday.

The positive tests come after Bayern pair Manuel Neuer and Leon Goretzka were withdrawn from Germany camp last week after their own infections.

Kimmich has started every game in all competitions this season for Bayern, netting two goals and providing four assists.

Muller has started all bar one of Bayern's games in all competitions, scoring twice and providing four assists.

Bayern Munich proved they can handle the persistent pressure they face, Jamal Musiala said after a 4-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen that boss Julian Nagelsmann described as "satisfying".

The Bundesliga champions snapped a four-match top-flight winless streak with a rampant showcase at Allianz Arena.

Germany international Musiala got on the scoresheet, alongside Leroy Sane, Sadio Mane and Thomas Muller, as the hosts inflicted further misery upon their visitors, led by Gerardo Seoane.

Musiala acknowledged there is seldom an unburdened moment at Bayern, and that it is their resolve when under the microscope that helps them succeed.

"The pressure was on us all," he told DAZN. "We are focused on ourselves. We all want to win and be number one, and we showed that today. The pressure is always there at Bayern. We need to deal with it."

Nagelsmann meanwhile alluded to reports of dressing room unrest in his post-game comments.

"I've always said you can tell, when players leave the dressing room, if they respect the manager," he added.

"You can see in each game that the players are fully into it. That was very satisfying today."

Opposite number Seoane meanwhile was left to question how his Champions League side continue to slip towards the bottom of the Bundesliga table, with a leaky defence causing no shortage of problems.

"It is a question of will," he mused. "We didn't have the necessary aggression. It is a mental process."

A brusquely assured first-half demolition job from Bayern Munich reaffirmed their Bundesliga title defence credentials in a 4-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen.

Goals from Leroy Sane, Jamal Musiala and Sadio Mane all before the interval put the champions firmly in the driving seat for a deserved victory at Allianz Arena on Friday, before Thomas Muller added a fourth close to the end.

After a dismal domestic run saw them go four league games without a win, questions had been asked about Julian Nagelsmann's side and their purported chances of claiming another top-flight crown.

But for now, they have been emphatically silenced, while Gerardo Seoane's side saw their horror-show start to the campaign worsened in painful fashion on the road.

It took Sane just three minutes to split open the visitors, fed off the right wing and able to roll a deflected strike beyond the wrong-footed Lukas Hradecky.

Musiala followed suit just after the quarter-hour mark, playing a one-two with Muller off a long ball before squeezing a shot in, and Sane added a third from the edge of the box six minutes from the break.

Mane saw a second overturned 10 minutes after the interval when VAR deemed Odilon Kossounou to have been fouled, but that call was likely scant consolation for Leverkusen.

Yet Bayern were not done, and when Muller pressed Hradecky late on, a tragicomic slip from the goalkeeper left an open net for the veteran to turn home and round off a comprehensive win.

Bayern Munich sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has backed Sadio Mane to shine, expressing his empathy after his recent struggles with the Bundesliga champions.

The Senegal international arrived from Liverpool for a reported €32million fee and initially started strong in his new surroundings, scoring three goals in his opening three Bundesliga appearances.

However, a dip in goalscoring form for Mane has seen the forward fail to score in his last four league matches and has coincided with poor results for Bayern, who are without a win in those games.

Indeed, Mane's only goal in his last seven Bayern appearances came in a routine 5-0 win against Viktoria Koln in the DBF-Pokal at the end of August.

Salihamidzic is not concerned, however, identifying the struggles he himself went through after leaving Bayern for Juventus and backing Mane to excel this season.

"Sadio still needs a bit of time. He has to get used to the Bundesliga, but he will. I know how it is to join a new team, in another city, another country with another football culture," he told BILD.

"I joined Juventus at 30 years old. I had won the Champions League, Bundesliga and Pokal with Bayern, but even as an experienced successful player, you need a while to get used to your new environment in order to fully focus on football and perform consistently.

"Sadio is still in this process. Everything will soon be more familiar to him and we'll soon see it on the pitch.

"I speak regularly with him, but I also give him space. He has to organise himself in a way that he feels at home in Munich - he's doing that. Sadio is one of the best players in the world. He'll bring very good performances. We'll still have a lot of joy with him.

"Sadio plays for the team. His teammates can see that. They all know that Sadio is an important member of the group. They will help him because, when in top form, he helps us achieve our goals."

Bayern resume their campaign after the international break on Friday against Bayer Leverkusen, which is followed by a home match against Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League and Der Klassiker against Borussia Dortmund.

Manuel Neuer and Leon Goretzka are back in training with Bayern Munich after the pair were forced to withdraw from Germany duty with COVID-19.

The duo were named in Hansi Flick's squad for the final two Nations League group games against Hungary and England, but were ruled out after testing positive for coronavirus.

However, Bayern goalkeeper Neuer and midfielder Goretzka were back on the training field on Tuesday. 

Benjamin Pavard, Dayot Upamecano, Matthijs de Ligt, Ryan Gravenberch, Marcel Sabitzer and Josip Stanisic have all also returned to the fold for Julian Nagelsmann's side.

In Neuer and Goretzka's absence, Germany slipped to their first defeat since Flick took charge with a 1-0 loss to Hungary, before playing out a 3-3 draw with England at Wembley on Monday.

Champions Bayern will go in pursuit of a first Bundesliga win in five games when they resume domestic action against Bayer Leverkusen on Friday.

Bayern Munich defender Benjamin Pavard has opened up on how he experienced depression during the coronavirus lockdown.

The France international explained in an interview with newspaper Le Parisien that isolation became a heavy burden and he sorely missed normal social contact.

Pavard, now 26, was in his first season with Bayern when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, having joined from Bundesliga rivals Stuttgart.

When players went into isolation in late March of 2020, Pavard said it became a challenge to stay positive.

He said: "It was difficult for everyone, for me too. To be alone, in a country other than mine, I was really not well. In my head, something was wrong.

"At the beginning, you tell yourself that it's nothing, that it will pass, but when you see that it persists, that you go to training and that you don't have a smile on your face, you have to react."

The Bundesliga became the first major league in Europe to resume, as it started up again in mid-May 2020, albeit behind closed doors.

Pavard sought and found support to help him through the trying times.

He said: "I am human like everyone else, and even if I have a super nice house with a weight room, I needed contact with others.

"I got up, I had no appetite. I tried to keep busy, to cook, to watch series. But Netflix is ​​fine for two minutes… I don't like the word depressive, but that was the case."

The former Lille player explained that he turned a corner and now feels "much better".

“I came out of all this as a man, it changed me," he said. "I was on my own like many football players and I had to surround myself well to raise my head. I managed to bounce back from difficult times."

Bayern Munich's honorary president Uli Hoeness has hit out at criticism of the World Cup being staged in Qatar.

Conditions for migrant workers are among the human rights issues that have been in the spotlight long before the tournament starts in November.

Hoeness is insistent that workers are "better and not worse off" with the country hosting the World Cup, however, and argues things are getting better in the nation compared to other Gulf states.

"The World Cup will lead to better working conditions for the people," he told Sport1.

"One thing is also clear, the workers in Qatar are better and not worse off through the World Cup. You should finally accept that and not constantly hit out at people on it.

"When the problem was in Afghanistan, the people were only flown out via Qatar. The World Cup, the commitment of Bayern and other sports activities in the Gulf region will lead to better working conditions for the people there.

"I have never heard criticism of Dubai, Kuwait etc. Only Qatar is being talked about. The only country where things are really getting better because this discussion is taking place is Qatar."

Bayern's own links with Qatar have been a source of frustration for many fans, leading to a hostile atmosphere in the team's AGM in November.

The Bundesliga champions signed a five-year sponsorship with Qatar Airways in 2018 and have often travelled to the nation for training during their winter break.

Julian Nagelsmann will turn around Bayern Munich's form after the international break and has the club's "full backing", sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has pledged.

A run of three draws in the Bundesliga for Bayern was followed by a 1-0 defeat to Augsburg before many of Nagelsmann's players headed off on national team duty.

Bayern sit fifth after seven rounds of games, five points adrift of early pace-setters Union Berlin, and they face Bayer Leverkusen next.

Leverkusen have made a much worse start than Bayern, with the team that finished third in the Bundesliga last season winning just once so far this term.

But almost all the focus is on Bayern, who have won the last 10 Bundesliga titles, and Salihamidzic has admitted the early form is a concern, but something that can be resolved.

Salihamidzic told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper: "Julian is very clear. He and his team of coaches know exactly what to do.

"Above all, Julian knows that he has the full backing of FC Bayern, that doesn't have to be emphasised again and again."

Bayern's shot conversion rate in the Bundesliga has dipped from 14.41 per cent last season to 11.8 per cent this term, and it would be easy to point to the sale of Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona and suggest that has been a factor.

It might well be; however, there are signs that Bayern are doing plenty right.

 

They have already hit the woodwork seven times in seven games, three times more than any other side, which suggests they have been unfortunate. Over 34 games last season, they hit the woodwork 21 times.

Their goal tally is closely tracking their expected goals (xG) score, and both being league highs can be interpreted as another healthy sign. Bayern have netted 19 from an xG of 17.48, so they are exceeding expectations, based on the quality of chances they have had, over the course of the seven games. Last season they finished with 97 league goals from xG of 96.67.

A worrying sign is that Bayern have twice conceded a goal when an error has been committed, having done so only three times in the 2021-22 campaign.

 

Salihamidzic said Bayern chiefs had spoken to Nagelsmann about "all aspects" of the opening weeks of the season, including the encouraging Champions League group wins over Inter and Barcelona.

What is clear is that Bayern expect greater tenacity from the team after the disappointing derby effort against Augsburg.

"We will appear differently after the international break. And I expect that too," Salihamidzic said. "Physical intensity, greed and the willingness to push yourself to the limit in every game are the prerequisites for success."

Matthijs de Ligt believes he took a "step up" in his career by leaving Juventus to join Bayern Munich.

The Netherlands defender was one of football's most exciting prospects when he joined Juve from Ajax for a reported €75million, winning Serie A in his first season with the team before disappointment in the two subsequent league campaigns.

De Ligt then moved to Bayern ahead of the 2022-23 season for a reported €77m and believes the switch put him on an upward trajectory.

"Bayern Munich is closer to the philosophy of what the national coach wants on the pitch. You also have to take risks in football," he told NOS.

"For me, it's a step up in terms of team. Juventus is a very good team. Only I think Bayern has everything to win the Champions League in terms of selection and ambition. I had the feeling that it was just a little less at Juve.

"I had a great time, really enjoyed it, but I felt like it was time for a new challenge."

De Ligt has had to be patient for opportunities with Bayern, initially finding it difficult to break into the starting line-up, but has no concerns as he highlighted the amount he has played in recent matches.

"I'm not worried at all. I barely played the first three games, because I came in with a training deficit. That was what they had told me the first week," he added.

"Of the last eight games, I've played six all the way. So, I'm actually satisfied with my playing time and how the first two months have gone."

Joshua Kimmich has mixed feelings about playing a World Cup in Qatar but insisted players cannot be expected to boycott the finals at this late stage.

The Germany and Bayern Munich player says the time for action was 12 years ago, when Qatar was awarded the tournament, rather than now, two months out from the opening game.

Kimmich spoke at a Germany press conference on Tuesday, ahead of Nations League games against Hungary and England, the last get-together of Hansi Flick's squad before the coach chooses his players for the World Cup.

The November and December dates for the tournament are unusual, and all part of the package that has come since Qatar was surprisingly awarded hosting rights in December 2010.

Concern about the country's human rights record has persisted and is sure to continue into the tournament itself.

Kimmich said: "As a player, you're always extremely keen on a World Cup. There's a lot of discussion about it this year, and rightly so."

He stressed issues such as climate, which has forced the tournament to be shunted to late in the year, were known about before Qatar was handed the tournament.

He added: "At the end of the day, players are always asked for a boycott. We're 12 years too late. Something like that has to be taken into account beforehand.

"It's a balancing act. On the one hand, you're looking forward to the huge event; on the other hand, there are these grievances that we address again and again."

Midfielder Kimmich will have little time to step back and look closely at the Qatar situation because the demands on players this season are extreme.

As well as domestic league and European commitments being crammed tightly together ahead of the World Cup, there is also the Nations League, where Germany have won one game and drawn three so far.

"You have in mind that this is preparation for the World Cup," Kimmich said. "But after that we have a block of club football where we need to get our points. Of course, it's all preparation for the World Cup, but as a footballer you want to be in form every three days."

France international Benjamin Pavard might have left Bayern Munich in the last transfer window, if not for a conversation with Julian Nagelsmann.

Pavard helped France win the World Cup in 2018 and joined Bayern from fellow Bundesliga club Stuttgart a year later.

The versatile defender, who can play at centre-back or full-back, has been a regular for the Bundesliga champions and, if he is fit, is likely to be part of Didier Deschamps' France squad for the World Cup in Qatar.

Pavard has featured eight times in all competitions for Bayern this season, scoring twice, though with Bayern signing right-back Noussair Mazraoui and centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, he revealed he came close to leaving the club, and may well have done if not for Nagelsmann.

"I questioned myself, I had calls from different clubs with my agent," the 26-year-old said in an interview with Telefoot.

"Afterwards, I spoke with the Bayern coach, we have a good relationship.

"He made me understand that I was in his plans, that I was important for the team."

 

Pavard, however, did not close the door to a move away from Munich, with his contract expiring at the end of the season.

"Maybe one day I will go to one of these clubs, you never know what the future holds," added Pavard, who has been reported to be of interest to Premier League sides Manchester United and Chelsea.

"I still [have] a year at Bayern Munich. Afterwards, we have time to decide."

Bayern have made a poor start to the season by their standards, as they aim to win the Bundesliga for a record-extending 11th successive campaign.

Despite beating Barcelona to make it two wins from as many games in the Champions League, they lost 1-0 to Bavarian neighbours Augsburg on Saturday, a defeat that came on the back of three successive draws in the Bundesliga.

Bayern Munich CEO Oliver Kahn remains steadfast in his support of Julian Nagelsmann despite the club's poor sequence of form.

While Bayern have enjoyed a perfect start to their Champions League campaign, beating Inter and Barcelona, the defending Bundesliga champions have now gone four league matches without a win.

Defeat to Augsburg on Saturday has increased the perceived pressure upon Nagelsmann, though Kahn has made it clear the responsibility falls upon the players and not their head coach.

"We are totally convinced of Julian," he told Sport1, speaking at Oktoberfest in Munich.

"The coach gives the players enough solutions. I think that's quite normal: it's the team, the team is on the pitch. It's also about turning the chances we create into goals.

"I think that's the most important thing. That the team deals with the fact that we get so little return for making these opportunities.

"Maybe after the start, everything went so smoothly and easily, somewhere the belief took root that you could do the Bundesliga on the side.

"You have seen how strong the teams are against and at some point, we have to accept that.

"Thank God we are still at the very beginning of the season. We always have the strength to get back to the front, where we belong, to the top of the table."

Bayern host Bayer Leverkusen on their return to league action on September 30.

Manchester United have identified Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans as a key target in January, filling one of the three gaps the club reportedly believe they need to address at the next opportunity.

Tielemans, 25, has already earned 52 international caps for Belgium and fits the bill as a creative technician in the middle of the park, with Fichajes claiming United feel Christian Eriksen is their only current option for that role.

Leicester have been unwilling to part ways with one of their best players, but with his contract set to expire at the end of this season, January will be their last chance to cash-in before he can leave on a free transfer.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED EYE TIELEMANS AS THEIR NEXT MIDFIELD MAESTRO

Due to Tielemans' contract situation, United may be able to scoop him up for well under his market value, although the player himself will ultimately have all the leverage if he chooses to wait things out and become a free agent.

As well as a central midfielder, the report also includes United are aggressively hunting another right-back – particularly in the Dutch market – and a forward.

Their January budget is said to be at £70million, but if they can find a team to take Cristiano Ronaldo off their books then that number will rise to £100m.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Liverpool Echo is reporting a bidding war is set to break out between United and Liverpool over 21-year-old Flamengo midfielder Joao Gomes, who is believed to be valued at over £30m.

– According to Ole, Moises Caicedo is keen to follow former Brighton manager Graham Potter over to Chelsea

Chelsea are locking up 18-year-old midfielder Lewis Hall on a contract that will keep him tied to the club through 2025, per Football London.

Arsenal are joining Manchester City, Juventus, Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the hunt for Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Jesper Lindstrom, who Calciomercato are reporting is worth £17m.

– Transfer Tavern is reporting West Ham will make another run at Torino full-back Ola Aina in January after having their interest rebuffed the last time around.

Bayern Munich sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic warned there can be "no more excuses" after defeat at Augsburg heaped pressure on head coach Julian Nagelsmann.

After three consecutive Bundesliga draws, Bayern were looking to get back on track in Saturday's Bavarian derby, but a 1-0 loss has compounded the team's domestic troubles.

It was only a first league loss of the season, but Bayern have now gone four games without winning in the competition, and the team that last season clinched a 10th consecutive title are in a mini-crisis.

It remains to be seen whether it escalates beyond that, or whether Nagelsmann succeeds in getting the team back to form, but Salihamidzic tellingly questioned the performance as much as the result.

His verdict was that Bayern "can't win in the Bundesliga like that", urging the team to show "discipline, greed and physicality", clearly suggesting they were lacking in each area.

Salihamidzic told German broadcaster Sky Sport: "We didn't finish the situations, several situations that we had, didn't finish in a concentrated manner, didn't play through to the end with a certain greed of wanting to score goals; and we also allowed a few chances against us, didn't defend those situations to the end, and we can't win in the Bundesliga like that."

Salihamidzic, a former Bayern player, said the current side are showing they have "brutal problems against teams that play against us physically, that knock our socks off, so to speak".

There has been no suggestion yet from Bayern that Nagelsmann's position is under threat, with early Champions League group wins against Inter and Barcelona surely helping his cause in that respect.

But he is facing scrutiny from outside the club, and the results in Germany's top flight are plainly causing unease in the Bayern hierarchy.

"If we don't bring that certain discipline, greed and physicality, then you can't win in the Bundesliga," Salihamidzic said. "Now there are no more excuses. Now we need wins."

Nagelsmann, the former RB Leipzig boss who is in his second season with Bayern, lost star striker Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona in the close season.

Lewandowski's de facto replacement, Sadio Mane, has managed five goals in 11 games across all competitions but has not found the net in his past five appearances.

As a collective, Bayern are not performing to their usual standard in the Bundesliga, and it falls to Nagelsmann to stop the rot.

Bayern's run of scoring in 87 consecutive Bundesliga games has been halted, and the coach has the international break in which to figure out what is so wrong.

Speaking after the final whistle in Augsburg, Nagelsmann said he was "thinking... about the situation, about myself, about everything".

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann cut a frustrated figure after seeing his team lose at Augsburg, saying he must think about "everything".

A goal from Mergim Berisha just before the hour at Augsburg Arena condemned Bayern to their first defeat of the season.

However, it made it four games in the Bundesliga without a win for the defending champions, their longest period without tasting victory in the league since the 2001-02 season.

Speaking at a press conference alongside Augsburg boss Enrico Maassen after the game, Nagelsmann praised the victors, but believed his team should still have won the game.

"Congratulations to Augsburg and Enrico for their victory against us," he said. "If I look at the statistics I think we should win that game, if we properly defend that free-kick [that led to the goal].

"It was difficult to break them down after it went to 1-0."

Bayern had 19 shots to the hosts' 11; however, according to Opta, Augsburg shaded it in terms of expected goals, by 1.56 to 1.52.

Few visiting players shone on Saturday, and it was another struggle for Sadio Mane, who only had one shot at goal, fewer even than Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer (two) who came up for late set-pieces.

"I won't be talking about individual players here, I will speak to them directly," Nagelsmann said. "There's always a difference between what I tell you and what I tell the team."

Augsburg ended Bayern's record streak of 87 Bundesliga games with at least one goal, having done similar in 2014 when ending their Bavarian neighbours' previous record streak of 65 games with a goal.

That, naturally, led to questions about former striker Robert Lewandowski, who scored twice for Barcelona in their 3-0 win over Elche in LaLiga at the same time Bayern were losing at Augsburg.

On the question of missing a number nine, Nagelsmann quipped: "What will you do if I say 'yes' or if I say 'no'? We have the classic nine with [Eric Maxim] Choupo [Moting] and we subbed him in today.

"It doesn't matter what I say now. If I say 'no' you’ll say I don't see the problem, if I say 'yes' you’ll say we're missing Lewandowski."

At the end of the press conference, Nagelsmann added: "I'm thinking about all things. About the situation, about myself, about everything."

His opposite number was grateful for the kind words, and Maassen explained his team had won by taking risks.

Although Bayern had 10 shots to the hosts' two in the second half, Augsburg matched their efforts in the first 45 minutes when both recorded nine shots each.

"Thanks to Julian [for his congratulations]," Maassen said. "I'm very pleased with how my team played.

"We were willing to take risks, I told the team we could defend and maybe lose 1-0 or 2-0, or we could play high-risk. We could concede more goals, but we'd also have a chance to win, and you have to attack if you want to try and beat them, so we ran after plenty of balls.

"We gave away a lot of chances, but [goalkeeper Rafal] Gikiewicz was tremendous."

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