Heynckes says Dante is Bayern Munich's first choice defender

Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes has said that Dante is now his first choice defender.

The 67-year-old stated that the former Borussia Monchengladbach centre-back is central to his plans, leaving the defensive trio of Daniel Van Buyten, Holger Badstuber and Jerome Boateng to fight it out for a place alongside him.

“If Dante is fit and healthy, he plays,” Heynckes told the club’s official website.

“He has great anticipation, he reads the play and he’s a big personality.”

Die Roten captain Phillip Lahm also praised the 29-year-old, adding: “Dante is one of the best defenders I’ve ever played with.”

But the defender himself preferred to focus the attention on the whole squad.

“We’re a super-collective, and that’s the only reason I look good at the back,” Dante said.

“I can’t ease off now. My hopes are rising, simply because I’m playing for Bayern,” he added.

Bayern & Dortmund among Champions League favourites, says Witeczek

EXCLUSIVE
By Tim Rohn

Marcel Witeczek believes that Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are both favourites to claim the Champions League title alongside Barcelona, Real Madrid and the Premier League contingent.

Jupp Heynckes’ side have been in fine form this season, and currently hold an eight-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga, while BVB have already confirmed their status as Group D winners ahead of los Blancos.

“In addition to Barcelona, Real Madrid and the English teams, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern are the favourites,” he told Goal.com.

“However, it remains to be seen whether [Bayern] have coped with the final loss against Chelsea. It is possible that this will be a hindrance to them.

“I think that the Champions League is most important to Bayern this year. They’re trying with all their power to avoid three seasons without a title.”

Witeczek, who represented Bayern between 1993 and 1997, went on to say that their summer signings have contributed to their excellent start to the season and will help them win the Bundesliga title.

“The club have upgraded very well. The defence finally has the necessary stability. This is mainly due to Dante, but you would not have thought that he’d be a regular player at first.

“And, of course, the wingers are outstanding and Mario Mandzukic has been an instant hit. Claudio Pizarro is scoring goals, and Mario Gomez will be fit in January.

“Bayern have free top strikers, whereas BVB only have Robert Lewandowski. Bayern will definitely be champions.

“Although every now and then some will get injured, the club is good enough, because there are 18 to 20 players who are of Bundesliga quality.

“In addition, Matthias Sammer will ensure that no one stands out. On top of that, the competition is huge, unlike last year.

“Nobody is allowed a dip in form, or else he will find himself on the bench right away.”

Bayern Munich complete their Champions League group campaign by hosting BATE Borisov at 20:45CET on Wednesday.

Bayern & Dortmund among Champions League favourites, says Marcel Witeczek

EXCLUSIVE
By Tim Rohn

Marcel Witeczek believes that Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are both favourites to claim the Champions League title alongside Barcelona, Real Madrid and the Premier League contingent.

Jupp Heynckes’ side have been in fine form this season, and currently hold an eight-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga, while BVB have already confirmed their status as Group D winners ahead of los Blancos.

“In addition to Barcelona, Real Madrid and the English teams, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern are the favourites,” he told Goal.com.

“However, it remains to be seen whether [Bayern] have coped with the final loss against Chelsea. It is possible that this will be a hindrance to them.

“I think that the Champions League is most important to Bayern this year. They’re trying with all their power to avoid three seasons without a title.”

Witeczek, who represented Bayern between 1993 and 1997, went on to say that their summer signings have contributed to their excellent start to the season and will help them win the Bundesliga title.

“The club have upgraded very well. The defence finally has the necessary stability. This is mainly due to Dante, but you would not have thought that he’d be a regular player at first.

“And, of course, the wingers are outstanding and Mario Mandzukic has been an instant hit. Claudio Pizarro is scoring goals, and Mario Gomez will be fit in January.

“Bayern have free top strikers, whereas BVB only have Robert Lewandowski. Bayern will definitely be champions.

“Although every now and then some will get injured, the club is good enough, because there are 18 to 20 players who are of Bundesliga quality.

“In addition, Matthias Sammer will ensure that no one stands out. On top of that, the competition is huge, unlike last year.

“Nobody is allowed a dip in form, or else he will find himself on the bench right away.”

Bayern Munich complete their Champions League group campaign by hosting BATE Borisov at 20:45CET on Wednesday.

Robben endures recovery setback

Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes has received some disappointing news from the treatment table as he looks set to have to make do without the services of Arjen Robben for the remainder of 2012.

The winger sustained a muscular problem while away on international duty with Netherlands back in November and has since been out of action.

Bayern were initially hopeful that Robben would be match fit in time for last weekend’s Bundesliga clash against Borussia Dortmund, but the Dutchman eventually did not make the squad, and he has now revealed that his comeback has been delayed due to a recovery setback.

“The muscle injury has healed, but my back is causing me problems again. I had pain in my back once more last week,” Robben told Bild.

“I don’t know whether I can make my comeback this year. We will keep on working on my recovery and try and shake off the back problem with the help of the doctors.

“I will bounce back, though. I am looking forward to 2013. I am highly motivated to help the team and play a key role. The past three years have shown that I hardly miss any games after the winter break.”

Robben has made only 10 appearances in all competitions for die Roten this term.

Heynckes: Bayern Munich underestimated BATE Borisov in Belarus

Bayern Munich trainer Jupp Heynckes has admitted that his team underestimated BATE Borisov when the two clubs met in the Champions League earlier this season.

Die Roten have already qualified for the knockout stages but are currently level on points with Valencia, meaning a win could be essential if they are to go through as group winners.

BATE, meanwhile, are guaranteed to finish third regardless of Wednesday’s result, and so will take up a place in the Europa League.

“BATE are a really good team – strong technically and physically competitive – so it won’t be a kickabout,” Heynckes told reporters.

“We saw during our first meeting how good they are and, to be honest, they deserved that win. They played a really great game. They ran 128 kilometres in that game – that is a great performance. We only ran 120.

“Sometimes teams like BATE are underestimated. Unfortunately, we did that in Belarus.”

The 67-year-old also gave a clue as to his possible team selection for the clash.

“Mario Gomez is an option to start,” said the former Borussia Monchengladbach striker. “He has been playing well again, even though his rhythm is not yet 100 per cent.

“But I have a lot of good strikers, so I will decide who will play just before the game. As the team are working well, we are all very happy.

“The team are very close-knit. The team ethic prevails, and we want that to continue.”