Sammer demands more from Bayern

The former Germany international is not impressed by the Bundesliga champions’ performances so far this year after just two wins in five games

Sporting director Matthias Sammer has demanded more from Bayern Munich after their stuttering start to 2015.

The Allianz Arena side have won just two out of their five games after the winter break, and drew 0-0 against Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

Sammer feels the Bavarians are on the right track but believes they are still some way short of their best form.

“This is not yet the Bayern Munich we would like to see,” Sammer was quoted as saying by Bild.

“We are on the right track, but we are not at the level we want to be at yet.

“We should not be dissatisfied, but we have to remain alert. So long as that’s the case, I’m in a good mood. If not, however, less so.

“We must continue to improve. We are not at the highest level yet. We should look in the mirror and should acknowledge we are not at our best yet. We are still a few per cent off our best.”

Bayern will be looking to return to winning ways when they travel to Paderborn on Saturday.

Thiago edging closer to Bayern comeback

The former Barcelona man has flown back to Germany as he continues his recovery from an operation on his right knee in October 2014

Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara has left Spain to return to Germany as he looks to step up his rehabilitation from knee surgery.

The Spain international has been plagued by injury since his move from Barcelona to the Bundesliga champions in the summer of 2013 and he has yet to feature in an official game this season due to his ongoing physical misfortune.

Thiago underwent surgery on the medial collateral ligament in his right knee in October and has since been working on his recovery.

The 23-year-old is now one step closer to his comeback, though, after flying back to Bavaria for the next step in his rehabilitation process.

“Thanks to all of you that have helped me in these months. Back to Munich,” Thiago wrote on Twitter..

The midfielder has suffered three knee injuries since joining Bayern from Barcelona and coach Pep Guardiola conceded the Bundesliga club may have made a mistake by trying to speed up his recovery when he endured another setback in October.

Thiago has made 25 appearances in all competitions for Bayern so far, scoring three goals in the process.

He has a contract with the Allianz Arena side until June 2017.

Real Madrid equal Bayern's Champions League win record

Carlo Ancelotti’s side have won 10 consecutive games in Europe following their 2-0 victory at Schalke – a run which stretches from last season’s semi-final stage

Real Madrid equalled Bayern Munich’s record of 10 consecutive Champions League victories with Wednesday’s 2-0 triumph over Schalke.

The reigning European champions went ahead at the Veltins Arena via the head of Cristiano Ronaldo, who ended a month-long goal drought in the process, before a superb Marcelo strike doubled their lead late in the game.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men are only the second team in Champions League history to have won 10 consecutive matches, following in the footsteps of Bayern, who set the record in November 2013 with a 3-1 win at CSKA Moscow.

Real Madrid’s run mirrors Bayern’s in the sense that both teams rocketed to double figures in continuing Champions League wins the season after they lifted the trophy.

Their first triumph in the current run started in the semi-final first leg against Bayern in 2013-14 and continued throughout the group stage, when they were the only team in the competition not to drop a point en route to the last 16.

The Blancos, who are top of La Liga by a point ahead of Barcelona but are out of the Copa del Rey, will be expected to break the record outright against Schalke in the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday March 10.

'Douglas Costa no worse than Robben'

The two players were on opposing sides on Tuesday night, with the Brazilian’s captain singling him out for high praise

Darijo Srna believes his Shakhtar Donetsk team-mate Douglas Costa can be just as good as Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben, while claiming Alex Teixeira and Taison are on a par with Franck Ribery.

Shakhtar and Bayern went head-to-head in the Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday, with the Bundesliga champions coming away from Ukraine with a 0-0 draw to leave the tie finely poised ahead of the return leg.

Despite failing to record a home win against a side reduced to 10 men in the second half as a result of Xabi Alonso’s dismissal, Shakhtar were content to avoid defeat in their first competitive outing since December 10 and Srna hailed the performance of his side’s Brazilian stars.

“I would say that Douglas Costa is no worse than Robben, potential-wise,” the Shakhtar captain told reporters. And both Teixeira and Taison are as good as Ribery.

“We can be happy with the result, though we have to take more risks when we have 11 men.

“We still have a chance, a slim one, though anything is possible in football. And we will fight to the end for our club and for our fans.”

The return at the Allianz Arena is scheduled to take place on March 11.

Shakhtar were tough – Neuer

The Germany international admitted Tuesday’s game was a difficult one in Ukraine but feels they remain in strong position in the tie

Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer says Shakhtar Donetsk made life hard for the Bundesliga champions in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie, but is optimistic about their chances of reaching the quarter-finals.

Pep Guardiola’s men struggled to create any chances of note in the away game and eventually had to settle for a 0-0 draw after they were reduced to 10 men following Xabi Alonso’s dismissal in the 65th minute.

“It was not easy for us. We created a few chances in the first half and did a good job in defence. We did not give them anything, apart from one chance from a free-kick. But we missed scoring to have a better chance in the return leg in Munich.

“I thought we had a few chances before the break, but it was much harder in the second half as we had to play the game and finish with 10 men.

“But we will create chances in Munich, so I am optimistic about our chances of reaching the next round.”

The second leg at the Allianz Arena is scheduled to take place on March 11.