Bayern Munich star Dante has spoken of his delight at his first Brazil call-up as he prepares to face England at Wembley on Wednesday night.
The 29-year old says he is determined that having been given his chance at international level, he will fight to become a first-team regular.
“I’ve taken the first step. I want to seize this chance and show my qualities,” he told reporters.
“I’m really pleased to have got the call and I’m looking forward to the prospect of facing [Wayne] Rooney,” he said.
“He’s a world-class striker – a high quality player. His movement is fantastic. He’s got everything. You have to be right on your game against those sort of players because they can turn a game in a flash.”
With the 2014 World Cup 18 months away, Dante says he will work as hard as possible to make the squad.
“I’m aiming high. There’s no way I’ll ease back now, I’ll work even harder and try and make a convincing case for myself.”
The Brazilian also spoke about the arrival of Pep Guardiola at Bayern this summer, but was quick to play down any hype, saying that his focus is very much on winning trophies this season.
“We’re not thinking about what Guardiola might think of us,” he said.
“We want to concentrate on winning the title.”
Bayern Munich defender Philipp Lahm has insisted that he would rather have Franck Ribery in his team than Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo.
The France international has been in sublime form for the Bavarians this season, netting four goals in 15 appearances, and the Germany skipper is delighted to be part of the same side as the tricky winger.
“I would rather have Franck as my team-mate than Cristiano Ronaldo. Franck is not a player who plays selfish, but enjoys using his team-mates,” the 29-year-old was quoted as saying by Kicker.
The Bayern and Germany will lock horns with Ribery in Wednesday’s international friendly between his country and France, and the wing-back is looking forward to the encounter.
“I will try and push him to the limit,” he continued.
“Although I realise that it will be difficult to completely eliminate him, especially when he approaches you at full speed.”
Wednesday’s match at the Stade de France is scheduled to kick off at 21:00CET.
Bayern Munich forward Franck Ribery has hailed Didier Deschamps’ impact on the France squad and the discipline he has brought back to the team.
The 44-year-old took over as head coach of les Bleus in July last year after Laurent Blanc stepped down following the country’s quarter-final exit at Euro 2012.
“I feel very comfortable at the moment, when I come to France,” the 29-year-old told Kicker. “[Deschamps] has a precise vision and goals, and with him, discipline set in again.
“Deschamps talks a lot to the players, we have a very good relationship with him. For me, it’s important to feel the trust of the coach. Then I feel good and am motivated to give everything for the trainer on the pitch.
“If I notice, however, that the trainer treats me oddly and he’s not being honest, then it becomes difficult. If he misleads me then he shouldn’t count on me.”
The Bayern Munich man then singled out Roten team-mate Bastian Schweinsteiger as the player who he would like to nutmeg during the upcoming international clash versus Germany: “Definitely Schweinsteiger. He would deserve it!”
France meet Joachim Low’s side at Stade de France on January 6. The match is scheduled to kic-off at 21.00CET.
Philipp Lahm has hailed Bayern Munich attacker Thomas Muller’s performances this season after his match-winning contribution against Mainz.
The Germany forward scored the opening goal in the Bundesliga clash at the weekend before teeing up the Roten skipper to cross for Mario Mandzukic to seal the win, and his team-mate is delighted with the 23-year-old’s form.
“His timing is always great. You never know what he will do, but you only need to look at his stats – the number of goals he’s scored, the number of assists he’s provided,” he told Kicker.
“He’s an absolutely brilliant player. He even accepts that he makes the odd mistake, which is always good.”
For his part, Muller was keen to stress the importance of the team’s success over his own individual glory.
“We win each game as a team. What’s most important is that we are keeping lots of clean sheets, because it starts with the forwards and ends with the defence. We’re doing very well at the moment.”
Lahm and Muller are both part of the Germany squad to face France in the friendly match this week.
The 20th round of the 2012-13 Bundesliga served up the usual mixture of goalmouth action, stunning approach play and last-ditch defending, not least at the BayArena, where Dortmund overcame Leverkusen in one of the most pulsating games of the season. Unsurprisingly, both teams are represented in Goal.com‘s team of the week.
In goal, we have a wildcard choice, Alex Manninger, who helped Augsburg continue their good start to 2013 with a string of saves as the Bavarians claimed a draw away at Wolfsburg.
At the back, Bamba Anderson helped Eintracht Frankfurt claim a 2-0 win at the Imtech Arena, Sokratis was on fine form for Werder Bremen against Hannover, and David Alaba showcased his status as one of the finest talents in the country with an excellent performance for Bayern at Mainz.
In midfield, we have Stefan Reinartz, who scored his first two goals of the season as Leverkusen came from two goals down against Dortmund, only to concede a dramatic winner. Alongside him is Fortuna Dusseldorf’s two-goal hero, Robbie Kruse and Kevin Volland, who scored a double as Hoffenheim saw off Freiburg. Finally, Stefan Aigner got two assists for Frankfurt at Hamburg.
The front three is also packed with goals. Robert Lewandowski scored one and made another for BVB at B04, Mario Mandzukic helped Bayern Munich claim an excellent win over Mainz and Srdjan Lakic scored grabbed his first goals in almost two years for Fortuna Dusseldorf against Hamburg.