I'd love Kroos at Manchester United – Scholes

The retired midfielder has again praised the talents of the Bayern Munich and Germany star, but feels a move to Old Trafford is unlikely following other new arrivals

Paul Scholes has hailed Bayern Munich and Germany playmaker Toni Kroos, adding that he “wished” Manchester United had signed him.

Louis van Gaal named the 24-year-old among his desired transfer targets ahead of confirmation of his appointment at Old Trafford, however Kroos has since insisted a move is not in the offing.

Scholes previously called on Van Gaal to make Kroos his first signing as United manager and has now praised his abilities again after the 24-year-old’s performances for Germany at the World Cup.

“I love watching Toni Kroos. I think he’s brilliant,” Scholes wrote in his blog for Paddy Power.

“I love the way he controls the ball and controls games. He can really play a pass and has superb vision. Kroos is capable of scoring goals too, from outside the box on either foot.

“I just wish Manchester United had signed him. Yes, it is good to see United bringing in new players, but they haven’t signed anything like the quality of Kroos.”

Germany marched into the World Cup last-16 stage by topping Group G and face Algeria on Monday evening for a place in the quarter-finals.

Scholes praised Joachim Low’s tactical approach but raised questions over Germany’s defence – namely Per Mertesacker and Benedikt Howedes.
“Joachim Low’s strategy of using four centre-backs has managed to keep to [sic] clean sheets in the group games for Germany. However there are weaknesses in his team,” he continued.

“He must be doing something right with more than 100 caps but Per Mertesaker is slow and cumbersome.

“At left-back the Shalke centre-half, Benedikt Howedes, looks a little vulnerable. Mats Hummels is not the quickest either.”

We have to prove our greatness, says Germany captain Lahm

The Bayern Munich man has warned his team-mates to show that they belong in the final stages of the World Cup ahead of their match with Algeria

Phillip Lahm has called on Germany to prove they are “a great team” as they prepare for their World Cup last-16 match with Algeria.

Germany topped Group G after thrashing Portugal 4-0, drawing 2-2 with Ghana and beating the United States 1-0, though their final two performances failed to reach the high standard of their opening rout of the Seleccao.

In a tournament full of surprises, Lahm is keen that Germany do not join some of the other big names to have already returned home.

“We don’t want to have the problems the other teams had,” the captain began, speaking in a press conference on Sunday. “Maybe try to end [the match] before the 90[th minute]. These so-called ‘small’ countries imposed difficulties until now, so now we know how hard it can be.

“Germany has won three World Cups, not so many teams have done that. We have great potential, tomorrow we’ll see if that’s enough. We have to play aggressively, like we did against the US.

“They say we’re a great team, so we have to prove it on the pitch tomorrow.”

Algeria have been one of the surprise packages of the tournament so far, having blown away South Korea before securing a 1-1 draw with Russia to book their place in the next round.

“We analysed them, we saw videos,” Lahm said of his side’s second-round opponents. “It’s a team that wants to show that they deserve to be here in the round of 16. They don’t want to lose a singe duel, and [they will] dispute every ball.

“You have to win, or go home. Algeria will go for the win, they want to show why they’ve got to here.”

Despite urging his side not to underestimate Algeria, Lahm has called on his team-mates to be daring in attack as they look to “unleash” their own qualities in Porto Alegre.

“We want to unleash our performance, defend well, attack aggressively,” said the Bayern Munich man.

“We have a series of players adapted to more positions. Football changed in the last few years, you need quick, skilled players; you need versatility. We have to look at every possibility, there’s always an opponent that can surprise you, and beat you.”

I am not impressed by Klinsmann – Van Buyten

The Belgium defender says he is far from blown away by his former Bayern boss’ work with the US national team

Daniel van Buyten has hit out at his ‘unimpressive’ former Bayern Munich coach Jurgen Klinsmann as the two get set to come head-to-head in the World Cup on Tuesday.

Van Buyten’s Belgium will take on the USA – who are coached by the former Germany boss – in the round of 16 in Salvador, bringing the two men together five years after Klinsmann was sacked by FCB.

The 36-year-old previously blasted Klinsmann for going back on his word during his time as Bayern coach, leaving the defender out of a key Champions League game against Sporting Lisbon having earlier told him he would start.

And, while many have lauded the German’s impact on international football, the Red Devils defender insists there is nothing special about his former boss’ approach.

“I am not impressed by Klinsmann. He is just a coach who knows how to conduct his group and get the maximum out of them by motivating them. The USA will certainly be organised,” Van Buyten told reporters at Belgium’s World Cup training base.

“He talks a lot about us, saying that we are favourites, but I think he thinks otherwise.

“They will be motivated and want to do everything possible to go into the quarter-finals. But that will also be the case for us.

“I hope it will be a good match and we will qualify.”

The reigning Bundesliga champion is the only player in the Belgium squad to have appeared at an international tournament prior to this World Cup, and he has been using his experience to help some of the younger squad members get used to the atmosphere in the camp.

“We are the youngest team at the World Cup, and I try to talk a lot with the young players so that they can be more free,” Van Buyten added. “But it’s not always easy to stay cool and calm, and that is the issue. This is the World Cup, it is not obvious.

“But I hope the next game will go well and that the young players are comfortable enough to give the best of themselves.”

Poll: Did Robben deserve penalty for Marquez tackle?

Was it or wasn’t it? Have your say…

Arjen Robben has never been far away from controversy and Netherlands’ last-16 clash with Mexico on Sunday saw him court more censure after he won a last-minute penalty in dubious circumstances.

The Bayern Munich star had several appeals for a spot-kick turned down before the referee finally granted him one in second-half stoppage time after a tackle from Rafael Marquez.

But, did the Oranje winger warrant a penalty? Have your say in our poll below.

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Robben apologises for diving against Mexico

The Bayern Munich winger won a spot-kick in injury time to enable Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to score the winner but admitted going to ground too easily earlier in the match

By Robin Bairner in Fortaleza

Arjen Robben has apologised for diving during Netherland’s dramatic comeback victory over Mexico in the World Cup round of 16 at Arena Castelao on Sunday.

Robben tormented the Mexican defence on numerous occasions with his pace, skill and direct running, and had several penalty appeals turned down before finally winning a spot-kick in the second minute of injury time when he went down under a challenge from Rafael Marquez.

Substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar converted from 12 yards to send the Oranje into the last eight of the tournament, after Giovani dos Santos’ opener had been cancelled out by a late Wesley Sneijder equaliser.

5 – Arjen Robben has won five penalties in 14 Champions League + World Cup games this season. Expert.

— OptaJean (@OptaJean) June 29, 2014

After the match Robben insisted the incident which won the game was a justified penalty, but admitted going to ground far too easily on one occasion in the first half.

“I must apologise,” he told NOS. The one [at the end] was a penalty, but the other one was a dive in the first half. I shouldn’t be doing that.”

Robben also revealed why he entrusted Huntelaar with the responsibility of the penalty rather than taking it himself.

“Usually I am comfortable with taking a penalty, but this time I was the one who was tackled,” he explained. “I felt comfortable that Huntelaar would capitalise.

“It was his moment, he deserved this. I’m almost crying from the emotions. The feeling is so strong, we want to win this, to fight together. These youngsters … I am so proud.”