Lahm and Neuer praise new Bayern signing Javi Martinez

Philipp Lahm has taken the time to praise Javi Martinez in the wake of his first training session for Bayern Munich.

The Spain international signed a five-year deal with Bayern earlier this week to complete his €40 million move from Athletic Bilbao, and he has already impressed his new team-mate during his short time at the club.

“I’ve seen a bit of him in the past, and I reckon he’s a very good footballer,” Lahm was quoted as saying on the club’s official website.

“[Head coach Jupp] Heynckes introduced him to the rest of the team and then he went out and just played football. He fitted in straight away. My initial impression is that he’s quality. He’ll help us a lot.”

Shot-stopper Manuel Neuer was equally pleased with the versatile midfielder’s arrival at the club, and stressed that Javi Martinez will need time to find his best form in his new surroundings.

“It’s great that he’s here. He lost his first practice match, but he threw himself into it and won a lot of balls in the air.

“He was very good, he’s still very young, and he’s starting out on a great career. There’s a lot coming at him from all directions, a new club, a move abroad. He’ll need time before we can say he’s really arrived. He’s not been signed just for one season, but for the long term.”

The 24-year-old could make his official Bayern debut against Stuttgart on Sunday.

Olaf Thon fears for Dortmund chances

EXCLUSIVE
By Hassan Talib Haji

In an exclusive interview with Goal.com, Olaf Thon assesses the chances of the German sides in this year’s Champions League. He favours his former club Schalke and Bayern Munich to advance to the knockout stages but fears that the challenge may be too difficult for Jurgen Klopp’s German champions, who were drawn in the so-called Group of Death.

Thon was a UEFA Cup winner with Schalke in 1997, scoring in the penalty shootout final victory over Inter, and is confident of the Gelsenkirchen side’s chances in group B alongside Arsenal, Olympiakos and Montpellier.

“Montpellier last year caused a sensation in France, but they should be beatable. Olympiakos is also an opponent you can leave behind. The strongest opponents are of course Arsenal, with Podolski, who has moved there recently. At the moment he still has some difficulties to grasp a foothold there, but his quality speaks for itself and he will succeed there. For me, Arsenal and Schalke will progress. “

However, The Professor, who accumulated over 50 caps for the German national team, rued the luck of Schalke’s fierce rivals Borussia Dortmund, who face Real Madrid, Manchester City and Ajax in group D.

“This is certainly the most difficult group. It was obvious, however, that Dortmund would get a tough group, as they were only in pot four. Dortmund have really not had any luck. Although the group sounds insurmountable, I still believe they can be a surprise. I think for most people, Dortmund is an outsider, but I daresay that Dortmund could challenge for second behind Real Madrid or Manchester City.”

But Thon is extremely confident that Bayern Munich will advance to the knockout stages and believes they are a strong contender for the final in Wembley. He has also expressed his delight at the big-money signing of Javi Martinez from Spanish outfit Athletic Bilbao.

“That to me is the easiest group. Bayern Munich will march through easily. Especially with the new acquisition Javi Martinez. Bayern desperately needed someone like him for the midfield, he can also play in central defence. That’s one of the reasons why Bayern will progress and for me personally, again, they are a very big favourite for the final.”

Javi Martinez cannot do anything about €40m pricetag, says Sammer

Bayern Munich sporting director Matthias Sammer has stressed that new signing Javi Martinez is not accountable for his hefty transfer fee.

The Spain international signed a five-year deal on Wednesday to complete his €40 million move from Athletic Bilbao to the Bundesliga giants and end a lengthy transfer saga.

Bayern have since been heavily criticised for supposedly paying over the odds for the holding midfielder, but Sammer feels there is not much Javi Martinez can do about his price-tag.

“He does not have anything to do with the height of his transfer fee. We really wanted the player and he had his price,” Sammer was quoted as saying by Bild.

Meanwhile, the 23-year-old has insisted that his €40m price-tag will not be a burden for him.

“It’s actually a boost to my motivation. I want to take my responsibility,” Javi Martinez stated.

The midfielder could make his Bayern debut on Sunday in the home match against Stuttgart.

Muller: Maybe we were too nice last season

Thomas Muller is clear in Bayern Munich’s aims for the season ahead and admits that they must improve their game to achieve their objectives.

Muller also recognises that the German club have been too forgiving in recent years, something that he admits needs to change if trophies are to be won.

“The atmosphere at Bayern has never really been about cosiness,” conceded Muller, while speaking to Bild.

“The last two seasons in particular were rather uneasy. Maybe it’s our problem that we have too many players who are looking for a footballing solution.

“Perhaps we were too nice on the pitch in the past few seasons. However, we will improve our game off the ball. A little less cuddling, and a bit more action,” explained the 22-year-old.

Following his €40m transfer from Athletic Bilbao, great things are expected of Javi Martinez, which is something Muller believes can bring huge pressure.

“I think that the expectations will be gigantic,” admitted the forward.

“We will welcome him and make sure that he feels comfortable. And when we play together successfully, it’ll be fine.”

Bayern themselves however, are under pressure to perform too, as they look to reclaim their Bundesliga crown from Borussia Dortmund this season.

“If you don’t win a title for two years, you’re automatically hungry. We can no longer prove that we are the best anyway, or that we win everything,” said Muller.

“We know from the beginning that we finally have to show everyone something. That’s the advantage of two years without a title, everyone yearns for success.”

Schweinsteiger left out of Germany squad for Faroe Islands and Austria 2014 World Cup qualifiers

Bastian Schweinsteiger will not feature in Germany’s first two 2014 World Cup qualifiers next week after Joachim Low announced his squad on Friday afternoon.

The 28-year-old has been a firm fixture in the national side since 2004, amassing 95 caps and scoring 23 goals.

But Low has left him out of his latest squad, saying that the player is not fit enough to play a part after struggling with injury over the past 12 months.

“I have spoken at length with Bastian,” Low said in a DFB statement.

“We have agreed that it takes a while to get back into the rhythm of playing again. Our plans are to have him back for both matches in October against Ireland and Sweden.”

Germany face Faroe Islands and Austria on September 7 and 9.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover 96), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Borussia Mönchengladbach)

Defenders: Jerome Boateng, Holger Badstuber, Philipp Lahm (all Bayern Munich), Mats Hummels, Marcel Schmelzer (both Borussia Dortmund), Benedikt Höwedes (Schalke 04), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal FC)

Midfielders: Mario Götze, Ilkay Gundogan, Marco Reus (all of Borussia Dortmund ), Julian Draxler (Schalke 04), Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira (both Real Madrid), Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller (both Bayern Munich), Andre Schurrle and Lars Bender (both Bayer Leverkusen), Lukas Podolski (Arsenal)

Forwards: Miroslav Klose (Lazio)