Thomas Tuchel feels Chelsea are a vastly different club now to the one where he loved to work, after he was asked if he could recommend the job to Julian Nagelsmann.

Chelsea sacked Graham Potter on Sunday, with the Blues 11th in the Premier League following a 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa.

Potter replaced Tuchel in September, with the latter having been dismissed by co-controlling owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali less than 18 months on from leading Chelsea to Champions League glory.

Whether Tuchel would be on speaking terms with Nagelsmann after replacing his compatriot at Bayern in March was not an issue that was raised when the former Paris Saint-Germain coach was asked by reporters if he would tell his predecessor, who is one of the favourites to succeed Potter, to take the Chelsea job.

"He's not going to ask me! He doesn't need my advice, that won't happen," Tuchel said in a press conference ahead of Bayern's DFB-Pokal meeting with Freiburg.

"I saw the news, in the end it was pretty tough timing, as it was right after I took over here and now the next coaching position is vacant at Chelsea.

"I needed quite a bit of time to distance myself from Chelsea, because I really liked to work there and there were friendships for life that I managed to build.

"It was a very intense time but the club changed massively. That helped me to find some distance. That's why this didn't bring out huge emotions in me.

"That's why I don't have to give any advice, because the club is different to the one I worked for."

Tuchel's first game in charge of Bayern could hardly have gone better, with the Bundesliga champions beating his former side Borussia Dortmund 4-2 to move top of the table.

Thomas Muller scored twice after Gregor Kobel's calamitous own goal had put Bayern ahead, with Kingsley Coman making it 4-0 before Emre Can and Donyell Malen grabbing consolations for Dortmund.

Sadio Mane came on as a second-half substitute as he continues his recovery from injury, though he only managed 12 touches and did not get a shot off.

Tuchel, though, is convinced Mane will return to his best form.

"I know him personally from England," Tuchel said of Mane. "He's one of the top players, he's scored in double digits, felt like 20 goals every year for Liverpool in the toughest league in the world.

"He plays at an extraordinary level, won all the trophies and titles for Liverpool. His importance is clear.

"Even with his age and experience, a change of clubs is still a change, it can lead to needing a bit of time to bed in a bit, to feel at home 1,000 per cent.

"Small things, like getting to the stadium, that were so easy in the past, have to be found out, and this takes time. Then it's done and dusted but then an injury occurs, and he could lose a bit of trust and form.

"I don't doubt his qualities, the things he can bring to us. It's about trust, a bit of patience in order to get back to the flow. A goal helps, no matter how, to get his joy back. We're working on it.

"With the strikers, those situations will occur all the time when they lose a bit of rhythm due to an injury."

Thomas Tuchel's first game as Bayern Munich coach may have been an impressive 4-2 victory over rivals Borussia Dortmund, but he knows there is work to do.

Tuchel replaced Julian Nagelsmann during the international break, and his first game in the dugout was Saturday's Klassiker against his old club Dortmund, who had won nine of their first 10 league games in 2023 to leave them top of the Bundesliga.

But Bayern leapfrogged them to the summit in style.

Gregor Kobel's error and a Thomas Muller double had the 10-time reigning champions 3-0 up within 23 minutes.

Kingsley Coman made it 4-0 shortly after half-time, and though consolation goals from Emre Can and Donyell Malen somewhat took the shine off their victory, Bayern now look the clear favourites to claim an 11th straight Bundesliga title, with Opta rating it at an 87.7 per cent chance they become champions again.

Despite the great start to his tenure, Tuchel insists there is still much work to do if Bayern are to get where he wants them to be, telling Sky TV: "I was very nervous today. It was a good first step but there is still a lot of room for improvement.

"It was a bit too wild, we wanted to have more dominance. We started very nervously. The whole game was actually too sloppy with too many ball losses.

"We have a lot to analyse. The team is extremely willing to learn. I understand that some things haven't worked out yet. All in all, it was too many turnovers that made life difficult for us. We want to be in possession. 

"It's a bit like a band or an orchestra. We have to find our rhythm."

Nagelsmann's sacking came despite Bayern being in the Champions League quarter-finals.

"Everyone was aware of what was at stake here. A change of coach always brings unrest, there was a lot to absorb," Tuchel added.

"The will to implement everything was there 100 per cent. That's the most important. 

"When we played calmly and clearly, we had top-class chances. We have leaders, and that will give us peace and confidence."

Borussia Dortmund hoped there had been a sign of change. BVB were back on top of the Bundesliga ahead of Der Klassiker and going to rivals Bayern Munich as the league's in-form team, their hosts meanwhile were in self-inflicted turmoil.

Victory at Allianz Arena would be the real statement Dortmund desired in a quest to prove they could end Bayern's domination of not only German football's biggest game, but the Bundesliga in general.

And perhaps Dortmund will still go on to win the title, but Saturday's match suggested that no matter how good BVB are, Bayern's psychological hold over them will take years to overcome.

As Bayern cruised to a 4-2 win, the Bundesliga's title race took another turn.

There had been plenty of talk about confidence from the Dortmund camp coming into the game, with CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke managing to perfectly encapsulate Bayern's recent dominance of this fixture when saying they were travelling "to Munich with a lot of self-belief for the first time in a long time".

He was referring to the fact BVB hadn't won at Allianz Arena in the Bundesliga since 2014, when Jurgen Klopp was still in charge, and their run of eight – now nine – successive league losses away to Bayern was their second-worst streak against any club in their top-flight history.

They'd been on the end of some hammerings in that time, too, losing by three or more goals five times.

So, when Dortmund began with genuine promise and swagger on Saturday, there was at least a suggestion Bayern weren't going to have it all their own way.

 

Dortmund were aggressive in their pressing and incisive with their distribution. Marius Wolf's energy down the right looked a potential weapon; Jude Bellingham showed some classy touches; Marco Reus' off-the-ball runs caused Bayern issues.

In fact, had Reus got his shot off a fraction of a second earlier in the seventh minute after Wolf's clever release, he may well have given BVB an early lead – as it was, Matthijs de Ligt got across to make a vital block.

But as predictable as some might have suggested a comfortable Bayern win was, there was nothing inevitable about the moment everything changed on Saturday.

Dayot Upamecano's pass from just inside his own half was seemingly routine for Gregor Kobel, but the goalkeeper took his eye off the ball as he raced out to clear, getting a slight nick on the ball to score arguably the most remarkable own goal of the season.

It's impossible to definitively say if things would've been different without that horror show, but Dortmund ceased to be much of a threat from that point in the 13th minute.

The following 10 minutes saw Bayern build a handsome lead. Thomas Muller was on hand to nudge home from De Ligt's headed flick-on to make it 2-0, and then punished another Kobel mistake with a tap-in when Leroy Sane's long-range strike was only parried.

It was effectively game over inside a quarter of the contest. Dortmund may have been the Bundesliga's form team coming into the weekend, but their first-half collapse had them reverting to type in Der Klassiker.

It wasn't over yet either.

Bayern looked especially potent in the opening half when attacking from the flanks, with Sane and – in particular – Kingsley Coman absolutely devastating at times.

 

Their deployment as inverted wingers was one of few significant alterations to the Bayern setup from Tuchel. It worked a treat almost throughout, and its success was tangible with the fourth goal early in the second half.

Sane cut in from the right, played a perfectly weighted pass towards the back post – through the legs of Muller – and Coman was there to stab home.

No one would have expected wholesale changes from Tuchel. After all, he's only had a couple of days to work with much of the squad following the international window.

But such a subtle yet demonstrably effective tweak perhaps highlights why Bayern were so keen to not miss out on the opportunity to finally hire Tuchel.

Similarly, Bayern were thrilling to watch, and we know just how important that is.

"We've come to the conclusion that the quality in our squad – despite the Bundesliga title last year – has come to the fore less and less often. After the World Cup we have played less successfully and less attractively. The big fluctuations in performance have cast doubt on our goals for this season, but also our goals for the future. That is why we have acted now."

Club CEO Oliver Kahn's comments after Julian Nagelsmann's sacking were pretty brutal but offered a lot of clarity to not only the man he'd just fired, but also the one he'd just hired.

 

Dortmund's late consolations via an Emre Can penalty and Donyell Malen's precise finish might be indicative of some of the issues with Bayern's mentality towards the end of Nagelsmann's reign. The 5-3 win over Augsburg comes to mind.

But 4-2 was a scoreline that flattered Dortmund. If anything, Bayern were a little wasteful, and had they checked their runs better, more goals certainly would've arrived.  

In some ways, this win was almost as close to the perfect start as Tuchel could have enjoyed when you consider the reservations Bayern started to have with Nagelsmann.

It will have likely dealt Dortmund a psychological blow, while Bayern find themselves back at the top of the table having produced an entertaining attacking spectacle.

But this wasn't where the title was won and lost – Bayern's shaky post-World Cup form proves Tuchel still has a lot of work to do.

Thomas Tuchel's Bayern Munich tenure started with a resounding 4-2 victory over rivals Borussia Dortmund at Allianz Arena.

Tuchel replaced Julian Nagelsmann during the international break, and his first game at the helm saw him tasked with shifting his former club Dortmund from top spot in the Bundesliga.

It was a fantastic start for Tuchel on the other side of the Klassiker rivalry, with Gregor Kobel's calamity and Thomas Muller's double putting Bayern 3-0 up inside 23 minutes.

Kingsley Coman nudged Bayern further ahead, though Emre Can's penalty and Donyell Malen's neat finish somewhat reduced the embarrassment for Dortmund, who lost in the league for the first time since November.

Bayern took the lead in bizarre fashion.

Dayot Upamecano's long throughball was seemingly running straight through to Kobel, but Dortmund's goalkeeper opted to try and boot it upfield, only to miscue, inadvertently sending the ball skimming into his own goal.

It was 2-0 just five minutes later, Matthijs de Ligt nodding a corner into the path of Muller, who stabbed home from close range.

Another Kobel blunder gifted Bayern a third – Muller on hand to tuck in the rebound after Leroy Sane's strike had been parried out.

Coman extended the lead in the 50th minute, latching onto Sane's clever pass to sidefoot into the bottom corner, and Dortmund had a reprieve when Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting's acrobatic finish was disallowed for offside.

Can smashed home a penalty after Jude Bellingham was felled by Serge Gnabry before Malen slotted in, but those goals were merely minor blips in an emphatic Bayern win.

German football's biggest game will take on extra significance this weekend when Bayern Munich host Borussia Dortmund at the Allianz Arena.

Dortmund have mounted a serious challenge to Bayern's sustained Bundesliga dominance this season and lead the defending champions by a point.

Bayern's inability to take control of the title race led to them surprisingly parting ways with Julian Nagelsmann on March 24.

His replacement, a man who has the other side of this storied rivalry, Thomas Tuchel, who was BVB coach from 2015 to 2017.

Tuchel's Dortmund overcame Bayern en route to DFB-Pokal glory in 2017, but the former Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea boss is now immediately under tremendous pressure to deliver victory for Die Roten.

For Dortmund, a win in Bavaria could go a long way to helping Edin Terzic's men seal the title.

But history is firmly against them doing that. With the help of Opta numbers, Stats Perform previews a potential title decider.

Dortmund's Munich misery

Dortmund's 2-2 draw with Bayern in the reverse fixture ended a run of eight consecutive defeats in competitive matches against them.

But the Allianz Arena has become a house of horrors for BVB. Indeed, Dortmund have lost their last eight away games against Bayern in the league.

In Dortmund's Bundesliga history, they have only had one longer losing streak away from home: versus Werder Bremen from 1979 to 1989 (10 matches).

Good omens for BVB

By their lofty standards, Bayern have struggled mightily in 2023.

They have won only five of their 10 Bundesliga games in 2023 (D3 L2) and have 52 points after 25 games.

That is their lowest at this stage of the season since 2011-12, when they had 51 points. The season ended with Dortmund winning the title, Bayern have not failed to do so since.

Since this campaign resumed, Dortmund have claimed a league-high 22 points in eight games. That is a club record for BVB after eight games in the second half of the season. The last time they collected as many points at this stage was the 2011-12 title-winning season under Jurgen Klopp.

The omens are good for Dortmund as they look to end Bayern's reign, but they will need to avoid a repeat of what happened the last time they were top of the Bundesliga in the second half of the season.

Table toppers in trouble?

Dortmund are top of the table for the first time since the second matchday of the 2019-20 season.

Prior to this campaign, they had not been at the summit in the second half of the season since matchday 27 in 2018-19, which saw them thrashed 5-0 by Bayern at the Allianz Arena.

Simply put, Dortmund cannot afford the same outcome this time around if they are to maintain their push to dethrone Bayern.

Graham Potter confirmed that Chelsea and Bayern Munich are in talks over assistant coach Anthony Barry.

However, a potential switch from London to Munich might well be delayed until a potential Champions League meeting between the sides.

Thomas Tuchel, who was appointed as Bayern coach after the sacking of Julian Nagelsmann last week, worked with Barry during his time at Chelsea and is keen to get the 36-year-old on his staff.

Barry is away from the Chelsea training ground while negotiations take place but Potter hinted that any agreement may be delayed until after a potential semi-final Champions League clash.

"Obviously that delay is something I'm pretty sure is in the conversation for obvious reasons," Potter said at a press conference on Friday.

"I have spoken to Anthony, he's someone I respect a lot and he's given everything for Chelsea. I understand that people have aspirations and it's about respecting that.

"He's away from us for the moment. It's between the clubs, it's not something I get involved in.

"I have huge respect for what he's done, here. He's a fantastic coach and a fantastic person."

Chelsea face reigning champions Real Madrid in the quarter-finals, as they did last year, but could be tasked with a semi-final face-off with former boss Tuchel if Bayern beat Manchester City.

Speaking to reporters in Germany on Friday, Tuchel was positive about the move for Barry.

"It's a matter between the clubs. It's still my absolute wish for him to come. The clubs have to reach an agreement. But I'm optimistic," he said.

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]."

Edin Terzic is excited to test himself against Thomas Tuchel when Borussia Dortmund visit Bayern Munich for Saturday's Klassiker, but he is not viewing the game as a Bundesliga title decider.

Dortmund sit one point clear of Bayern at the Bundesliga summit as they bid to deny the Bavarian giants an 11th successive league title.

Amid suggestions of unrest behind the scenes, Bayern opted to make a change in the dugout during the international break, replacing Julian Nagelsmann with former BVB boss Tuchel.

Ahead of welcoming Tuchel back to the Bundesliga, Terzic said competing with the former Champions League-winning coach was evidence he had himself reached the top level.

"What hasn't changed at Bayern is that they have a top coach," Terzic said at Friday's press conference.

"It's a shame with Nagelsmann because he's an absolutely top coach, but we all know how quickly things can change. 

"I'm very happy to welcome Thomas Tuchel and it shows that I work at the top level. Tuchel is not only one of the best coaches, but also one of the most successful."

Tuchel averaged 2.09 points per game during his two-year spell in charge of Dortmund – the best figure managed by any boss in their Bundesliga history.

Dortmund are entering a Bundesliga matchday top of the table for the first time since the second week of the 2019-20 campaign, while the last time they did so during the second half of a season was when they visited Bayern in April 2019.

BVB suffered a chastening 5-0 defeat on that occasion as Bayern went on to be crowned champions, but Terzic does not believe Saturday's game will decide the destination of the title.

"I'm firmly convinced that the championship won't be decided in tomorrow's game, but of course it can point the way," he said.

"We think that we can set an example and we want to prove that we are different than we have been in recent years. 

"We not only respect the task against Bayern, but also the upcoming duels. This is the hot phase of the season."

With the last international window of the season over, domestic club campaigns now enter the final straight.

Everything is still to be decided – technically speaking. Title races, European qualification, relegation – all will come to a head over the next two months.

Of course, there are a few outcomes that already look like foregone conclusions, but there's still much to play for in each of the top five leagues.

With club football returning over the next few days, Stats Perform's Artificial Intelligence team have crunched the numbers using their supercomputer to predict the outcome of each league.

How's the outlook for your team?

Premier League

England is the scene of potentially most compelling title race among the top five leagues this season.

Arsenal may have an eight-point lead at the summit, but Manchester City still have a game in hand. As such, the Gunners' chances of winning a first league title since 2004 are 56.2 per cent, perhaps smaller than many might have expected.

That comes down in part to the statistical value attached to City's historic results, particularly over the past few years during their Premier League domination, whereas Arsenal haven't come close to that level of success over the same period.

Therefore, the title race still looks tight.

A little further back, Manchester United (74.5 per cent) are near-certainties to finish third, while the race for fourth promises to be engrossing – Tottenham (19.3 per cent), Newcastle United (29.1 per cent) and Liverpool (24.5 per cent) look set to tussle it out, with Brighton and Hove Albion (10.7 per cent) considered rank outsiders.

At the bottom, Southampton's 41.6 per cent likelihood of finishing 20th suggests they've a huge battle on their hands, but the supercomputer reckons West Ham and Leicester City have enough to pull themselves clear of the drop zone.

The signs are that two of Bournemouth, Everton and Nottingham Forest will join Saints in the Championship.

 

Bundesliga

Germany's top flight may come to rival the Premier League's title race. Ahead of the weekend's Klassiker between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, BVB are a point clear.

Yet, Dortmund's probability of finishing top is just 22.4 per cent compared to Bayern's 76.4. Again, it largely comes down to their historic results and Die Roten's dominance suggesting they'll eventually get the job done.

But it's fair to say Bayern's decision makers aren't so confident given their brutal choice to sack Julian Nagelsmann on Friday, replacing him with former Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel.

Union Berlin aren't out of it given they are only five points behind Dortmund, though this is obviously uncharted territory for them, hence the 0.9 per cent chance of winning their first top-flight title since 1923.

Third looks the best bet for them (40.3 per cent), while RB Leipzig are the most likely to fill out the top four (37.2 per cent).

It's even tighter in the relegation scrap. Only seven points separate 18th from 13th, so even rock-bottom Stuttgart are given a reasonable chance of finishing 14th (10.6 per cent) or 15th (15.2 per cent).

 

LaLiga

Following Barcelona's dramatic 2-1 win in El Clasico before the international break, LaLiga looks done and dusted at the top with the Blaugrana 12 points clear.

The supercomputer also reckons Atletico Madrid are nearly guaranteed third (80.3 per cent), leaving what is effectively a two-horse race for fourth.

Real Sociedad have fourth at the moment and are 43.7 per cent likely to finish there, though Real Betis (36.7 per cent) aim to push them all the way.

At the other end, Elche are given no more than a 0.1 per cent chance of getting out of the bottom three after taking just 13 points from 26 games.

Otherwise, relegation is difficult to call. Almeria in 19th are only six points behind Real Mallorca in 11th, meaning there are a host of clubs who could yet get dragged into a fight for their lives.

There are two particularly big names among those potentially in trouble. Valencia are in the bottom three and have a 21.9 per cent chance of being relegated, while Sevilla – who are on their third coach of the season after sacking Jorge Sampaoli – are only two points clear of safety.

The computer says Man Utd's next Europa League opponents only have a 5.8 per cent probability of going down, however.

 

Ligue 1

Paris Saint-Germain seemingly have little to worry about in Ligue 1, with the supercomputer calculating their title chances at 98 per cent.

The tiny hint of doubt gives Marseille (1.8 per cent) and Lens (0.2 per cent) a bit of hope – but even then, it's presumably nothing more than a pipe dream.

There is a similar degree of certainty at the bottom, where four teams will be relegated ahead of the league's size being reduced to 18 clubs next term.

Angers, with 10 points from 28 games, cannot get out of the bottom four according to the calculations, and the other three positions are currently taken up by Ajaccio, Troyes and Auxerre.

Brest and Strasbourg aren't out of the woods yet either, though the supercomputer believes those in the relegation zone are the ones most likely to drop into Ligue 2.

 

Serie A

If there's one league in Europe that's got a foregone conclusion at the top, it's Serie A.

Napoli have more than a 99.9 per cent chance of winning a first Scudetto since 1990, with the unrelenting Partenopei a whopping 19 points clear of second already.

The race for Champions League qualification promises to be a little more tense.

Eleven points is the gap between Lazio in second and Juventus in seventh. While the Bianconeri are very much outsiders, the other five teams have at least a 15 per cent chance of finishing in the top four.

Lazio, Inter and Milan appear to be the most likely to take those spots, though Roma and Atalanta will fancy their chances of putting a cat among the pigeons.

In the relegation fight, there's a rather clearer picture.

Cremonese and Sampdoria look doomed, while Hellas Verona in 18th are five points adrift of safety, giving them just an 18.8 per cent probability of avoiding relegation.

 

Hansi Flick rued a timid Germany performance as Belgium "took full advantage" to seize an unassailable early lead in Tuesday's 3-2 friendly triumph in Cologne.

Yannick Carrasco and Romelu Lukaku fired Domenico Tedesco's new-look Belgium into a 2-0 lead inside nine minutes at RheinEnergieStadion.

A Niclas Fullkrug penalty, his sixth goal in as many international appearances, brought Flick's side back into it before Kevin De Bruyne – who created Belgium's first two goals – put the game out of reach.

Serge Gnabry managed a late consolation but Flick acknowledged there was no way back after Tedesco's visitors punished a woeful start to earn Belgium's first win against Germany since 1954.

"We were too cautious, too passive and weren't able to put our opponents under pressure, and Belgium took full advantage," Flick said on RTL.

"Our passion brought us back into contention, but it wasn't quite enough to get a result."

While a late fightback offered Flick reason for hope, Germany must improve and make use of their international friendlies, given they have automatically qualified for Euro 2024 as a host nation.

Their cause was not helped by Leon Goretzka limping off with an ankle injury in the first half, raising fears the midfielder will not feature in Bayern Munich's crucial Bundesliga meeting with Borussia Dortmund.

Just a point separates Bundesliga leaders Dortmund and Bayern ahead of Saturday's Klassiker at Allianz Arena, with Thomas Tuchel set to take charge of the reigning champions for the first time.

The former Chelsea coach's appointment came after the dismissal of Julian Nagelsmann last week, but Tuchel may be boosted by the injury update Goretzka provided after the match.

Bayern star Goretzka, who appeared in an upbeat mood, told reporters: "I've twisted my ankle. It shouldn't last until Saturday."

Leon Goretzka limped off injured for Germany in Tuesday's clash with Belgium, making him a doubt for Bayern Munich's crunch Bundesliga clash with Borussia Dortmund.

Bayern trail Dortmund by just one point at the Bundesliga summit but may have to do without Goretzka for Saturday's crucial Klassiker after the midfielder suffered an apparent ankle injury.

The Germany international initially went down and required treatment in the 29th minute before failing to continue as Hansi Flick sent on Felix Nmecha three minutes later at RheinEnergieStadion.

That was in a double substitution, the second part of which was not enforced as Emre Can replaced Florian Wirtz with Germany trailing 2-0 after early goals from Yannick Carrasco and Romelu Lukaku in Cologne.

A potentially title-deciding meeting with Dortmund will also mark Thomas Tuchel's first game in charge of Bayern, who brought in the former Chelsea coach after dismissing Julian Nagelsmann last week.

The Bundesliga champions will hope Goretzka soon returns to fitness, with the two-legged Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City also on the horizon.

Hansi Flick says the injury that ruled Nico Schlotterbeck out of Germany duty is "nothing serious" and the defender should return for Borussia Dortmund's clash with Bayern Munich.

Schlotterbeck started Germany's 2-0 win over Peru last week, but he has been ruled out of Tuesday's friendly with Belgium in Cologne due to a thigh injury.

However, the 23-year-old – who has both played in (36) and started (33) the most games of any BVB player this season – is expected to be available for Saturday's trip to Bayern.

"We didn't want to take any risks with him," Flick said at Monday's pre-match press conference. "It's nothing serious and in two or three days he'll be back on the pitch."

Bundesliga leaders Dortmund head into Der Klassiker a point better off than Bayern, who sacked Julian Nagelsmann and replaced him with Thomas Tuchel last week.

Chelsea attacker Kai Havertz was another withdrawal from the Germany squad due to illness ahead of the prestige friendly with Belgium at RheinEnergieStadion.

Flick announced Thilo Kehrer and Serge Gnabry will come into the starting line-up in place of Schlotterbeck and Havertz respectively, with "one or two" other changes possible.

Belgium kicked off a new era under Domenico Tedesco with a 3-0 Euro 2024 qualifying win over Sweden thanks to Romelu Lukaku's hat-trick in Stockholm.

The Red Devils are in somewhat of a transition period, with a number of their 'Golden Generation' making way after their recent World Cup group-stage exit.

Germany head coach Flick expects the nation ranked fourth in the world to pose more of a challenge than Peru.

"We started the new year with a win, but in Belgium we have an opponent of a different calibre," he said.

"They have a new coach and a new spirit. You can see immediately they have outstanding footballers in their ranks.

"They are able to defend compactly, but they are also convincing in an attacking sense when they have possession of the ball. They scored brilliant goals against Sweden.

"Even under pressure they always find good solutions. In terms of football, they are one of the best teams and will be a good opponent for us to measure ourselves against."

Bayern Munich are adamant they were not at fault as Thomas Tuchel's appointment was reported before previous head coach Julian Nagelsmann had been sacked.

Nagelsmann was said to have learned of his departure through the media while skiing in Austria this week.

The news first broke on Thursday but was not made official for another 24 hours, by which point Tuchel had formally agreed to take the Bayern job.

However, Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic appeared on SPORT1's STAHLWERK Doppelpass on Sunday and defended the club's position.

"We met [with Tuchel] on Tuesday, had a very good conversation," Salihamidzic said. "And on Wednesday and Thursday, we negotiated with Thomas' managers.

"On Thursday evening, we learned that the information had been leaked by a third party. We really couldn't help it.

"I don't know who that was [behind the leak] – certainly from the other side. We behaved fairly. As fair as you can be in this business.

"The first person we called on Thursday was Julian Nagelsmann. You don't share such a decision on the phone. That's why we met the next day at Sabener Strasse. We waited until there was a commitment from Thomas Tuchel."

Indeed, although the leak looked "bad", the Bayern chief explained why it was not possible to dismiss Nagelsmann before putting a deal in place with Tuchel.

"It came out before Thomas Tuchel agreed, so I wouldn't have been able to call Julian yet," Salihamidzic said.

"I couldn't have told him, 'we're talking to Thomas now, but if he doesn't want to, you'll go ahead'.

"Of course, it's bad that this comes out beforehand, but that's not our fault."

Now, Bayern are looking forward to a future with Tuchel, even if he has had strained relationships with bosses at Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea.

Disputes have often centred around transfer business, but the Bundesliga champions are ready to back Tuchel.

"With Julian Nagelsmann, we entered the transfer market together and discussed everything. We will do the same with Thomas Tuchel," Salihamidzic said.

"The coach's ideas are important, he has to transfer them to the team. We have let Julian be Julian and will also let Thomas Tuchel be Thomas Tuchel."

Thomas Tuchel's arrival at Bayern Munich has already resulted in fresh transfer links with the Bundesliga giants.

One player said to be of interest to Bayern's new boss is one of his former Chelsea regulars.

However, Bayern could face competition from several Premier League clubs.

 

TOP STORY - FOUR-WAY TUSSLE FOR KOVACIC

Mateo Kovacic is said to be attracting interest from Bayern, Manchester CityManchester United and Liverpool.

Calciomercato report that Bayern's new boss Tuchel, who replaced Julian Nagelsmann in a shock move on Friday, wants to bring in the Croatia international, who he coached at Chelsea.

However, according to 90min, Liverpool, City and United are also monitoring the situation, with Kovacic heading into the final year of his contract at Stamford Bridge.

ROUND UP

- According to Calciomercato, Bayern could also look to sign Edouard Mendy from Chelsea.

- Fabrizio Romano has claimed Newcastle United are keen on signing Scott McTominay.

- Romano also says that Chelsea and Arsenal are interested in Southampton's  Romeo Lavia.

- GiveMeSport's Dean Jones reports that Tottenham will look to sound out ex-Bayern boss Nagelsmann should they sack Antonio Conte.

Julian Nagelsmann was sensationally sacked as Bayern Munich boss on Friday and replaced almost immediately by Thomas Tuchel.

The 35-year-old German had guided the Bavarians to last season's Bundesliga title.

And Bayern have looked good in reaching the Champions League quarter-finals this term.

Nagelsmann previously led RB Leipzig, guiding the side to the Champions League and the 2021 DFB-Pokal final, before moving to Bayern in 2021.


TOP STORY – SPURS MAKE MOVE FOR NAGELSMANN

Sky Sports claims Julian Nagelsmann is open to Tottenham's advances as they seek talks following his dismissal as Bayern Munich boss.

Spurs may be in the market for a new manager with uncertainty over Antonio Conte's future. Football Insider claims Nagelsmann is Spurs' number one priority if Conte departs.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy was also considering Nagelsmann in 2019 when he replaced Mauricio Pochettino with Jose Mourinho.


ROUND UP

- Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham are all circling for PSV midfielder Ibrahima Sangare, reports 90min. According to the report, the player's representatives have spoken to several Premier League clubs and he could be available for around £32million.

- Manchester United have joined the race for Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic , who is being courted by Manchester City and Liverpool, according to Football.London.

- 90min claims Newcastle United have held talks with Marcus Thuram's representatives about a free agent move from Borussia Monchengladbach in the offseason. Thuram has already declared he will leave Gladbach when he contract expires at the end of the season, with Inter among a host of clubs interested.

- Chelsea are interested in signing ex-Leeds United man Raphinha from Barcelona, claims journalist Simon Phillips. The Blaugrana may be forced to sell players due to financial fair play regulations.

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