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)

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.”

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.

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.”

'We must respect our rivals' – Heynckes urges Bayern to avoid complacency in Champions League

Jupp Heynckes has warned his Bayern Munich side to take all of their opponents seriously in the group stage of the Champions League, after they discovered their fate on Thursday.

The Bavarians will face Valencia, Lille and BATE Borisov in Group F as they look to make amends for their penalty shoot-out defeat to Chelsea in last year’s final.

But while Heynckes is confident of Bayern’s chances in progressing to the knockout stage, he acknowledges that they must not underestimate their rivals if they are to top the pool.

“It’s definitely a manageable group for us, on paper. But the Champions League is difficult and you have to respect all your opponents. We’re certainly looking forward to it,” Heynckes told the club’s official website.

Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer shared a similar view, pointing out that Valencia could prove to be a difficult encounter.

“It’s a draw which presents medium difficulty,” mused the 1996 European Footballer of the Year.

“Our aim is clear enough: we want to make the next stage as group winners. If we turn in strong performances we’ll impose ourselves on the group, but if we’re in poor shape we’ll have problems.

“Valencia are one of the top teams in Spain, so we’ll prepare well.”

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who proved to be Bayern’s hero in their Champions League semi-final victory over Real Madrid last year, expressed how it was an easier draw than last year’s, when they were drawn against Manchester City, Napoli and Villarreal.

“Valencia came third in Spain behind the big two of Barcelona and Madrid, and Lille have played quite a few games in the Champions League,” he commented.

“But I still think we can be satisfied with the draw, as last year’s group was tougher on paper.”

Bayern Munich’s Champions League campaign begins on September 18, when they will host Los Che at the Allianz Arena.