Vogts: Germany were the best team at Euro 2012

Berti Vogts has leaped forward in defence of beleaguered Germany manager Joachim Low, after the latter was criticised following his failure to guide the vaunted Die Mannschaft beyond the semi-finals of Euro 2012.

The current Azerbaijan national team coach led his country in a fruitful eight-year period that lasted from 1990 to 1998, which culminated in a Jurgen Klinsmann-inspired Germany clinching the 1996 European Finals.

And Vogts, 65, has praised the courage of both his former charge and current manager Low in their efforts to pioneer a new era for Germany, although admitting work still needs to be done.

“Even after he [Low] walks on water, his critics always find a way to remind him he can’t swim,” sighed the former Borussia Monchengladbach defender to German publication WAZ. “Thanks to him, we have a generation of players that plays very elegantly.”

“Everything both he and Klinsmann have done should be honoured. Discussions about his suitability for the Germany job should never have arisen. We were the best team of Euro 2012 until the last hurdle.

“We should have made it to the final, but we made things too easy for the Italians. Approaching the World Cup in Brazil, I’d put us at only about 80 percent readiness, but our players would already have learnt something from this competition.”

Bundesliga runners-up Bayern Munich defeated champions Borussia Dortmund on Sunday during the German Supercup, and Vogts has tipped a close fight for this season’s title.

“Jupp Heynckes and Matthias Sammer at Bayern make for a great pairing, while Jurgen Klopp is the father of Dortmund’s success, helped along by general manager [Hans-Joachim] Watzke’s presence.

“Both will battle it out for the championship, though it will no longer be so easy for Dortmund. Don’t expect it to be anymore the case when Dortmund beat Bayern three times in one season.”

Klopp overcame counterpart Heynckes twice in the league the previous season, before ousting the Bavarian giants further in the DFB-Pokal final.

Dortmund will make life difficult for Bayern, says Hitzfeld

Ottmar Hitzfeld has voiced his opinion that Borussia Dortmund will prove to be Bayern Munich‘s biggest rival in the 2012-13 campaign.

The Bavarians are desperate to secure the Bundesliga title this season after being beaten by Dortmund to top spot in the past two years, but the legendary trainer has insisted that it will not be easy for die Roten to dominate again.

“The race for the Bundesliga title will go between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund again. These two teams have the most potential and have very strong teams,” Hitzfeld stated to Sky Sport News.

“Dortmund’s squad has not changed much. They brought in [Marco] Reus for [Shinji] Kagawa, and Lucas Barrios left the club.

“I believe that the signing of Reus was a great deal, though. And that is one of the reasons why Dortmund will make life difficult for Bayern once more this season.”

Bayern beat Dortmund 2-1 in the DFL-Supercup at the weekend to end their five-match losing streak against Jurgen Klopp’s men.

Ribery & Benzema to stand trial over underage prostitute allegations

French football stars Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery are to face trial for the alleged solicitation of an underage prostitute, prosecutors have confirmed. 

The Real Madrid striker and Bayern Munich winger were first questioned two years ago over allegations that they had paid for sexual encounters with Zahia Dehar, who was under the age of 18 at the time. 

The scandal, which stemmed from a police investigation into a prostitution ring based around a Paris nightclub, rocked French football and destabilised Les Bleus ahead of their disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign.

The pair are now set to face the charges along with six others after judicial papers were submitted by investigating magistrate Andre Dando this week

“Some of the defendants will be prosecuted for ‘aggravated pimping,’ although I cannot disclose which ones at this time,” he told CNN.

“The trial is months away and will be well into 2013, I expect.”

Dehar has accused Benzema of paying for sex with her in 2008 when she was 16, and told investigators that Ribery flew her to Munich as a ‘birthday present for himself’ the following year.

The Paris state prosecutor has previously called for the charges to be dropped on the grounds that the players did not know that Dehar was underage, however, investigators have since decided to take it to trial.

If found guilty, Ribery and Benzema could face a three-year jail term.

Lawyers for both players mantain their clients’ innocence.

Sylvain Cormier, the legal counsel for Benzema, told Le Parisien: “There is other material in the record to prove the innocence of my client. I feel it pays to be young and famous.”

Ribery’s solicitor, Sophie Bottai, told the same publication: “This decision is unjust and also surprising in view of folder contents and submissions of the prosecution. But I remain confident for the rest of the procedure.”

France coach Didier Deschamps has included both players in France’s squad to face Uruguay on Wednesday.

Deschamps said: “It is in the court’s hands. It will not change my demands about players’ behaviour on and off the pitch with respect to the French team.”

Bayern can beat anyone, warns Neuer after DFL-Supercup victory

Manuel Neuer insists Bayern Munich have the quality to beat anyone after defeating rivals Borussia Dortmund 2-1 at the weekend.

The Bavarians had lost their five previous encounters against the reigning German champions before Sunday’s DFL-Supercup victory, and the Germany goalkeeper is now high on confidence.

“We have shown that we are ready for it, and that we can beat any team we face,” Neuer was quoted as saying by Bild.

Meanwhile, Franck Ribery has moved to underline the magnitude of what the Supercup success means for last year’s Bundesliga runners-up.

“This was an important game for Bayern,” the Frenchman noted. “The win is a real confidence boost for us.”

Bayern get the new season under way with a trip to new boys Greuther Furth.

Dortmund win a psychological boost for Bayern, says Heynckes

Jupp Heynckes feels that Bayern Munich‘s 2-1 DFL-Supercup win over Borussia Dortmund will prove to be a psychological boost for the Bavarians.

The Bavarians had lost their previous five games against the Bundesliga champions, but goals from Mario Mandzukic and Thomas Muller were enough to secure victory on Sunday as Robert Lewandowski’s strike was nothing more than a consolation goal.

“Obviously, winning this game is a psychological boost. Overall we deserved to win, although it was hard-fought,” Heynckes stated at a press conference.

“Especially in the first half we played very well with good organisation and huge discipline. We had some great moments when we attacked. We were inspired by the early goals.

“Dortmund worked up a head of steam in the second half, and we were not as well-organised and disciplined in defence. 

“It was the Supercup, but it was still a pre-season game. Both teams can still improve.”

Bayern start the 2012-13 Bundesliga game with an away match against Greuther Furth on August 25.