Chelsea asked us not to include Mata in Spain squad, says Del Bosque

Spain boss Vicente del Bosque has revealed that Chelsea asked him not to call up Juan Mata for the upcoming matches against Saudi Arabia and Georgia, as they feel the attacker needs rest.

Mata featured at Euro 2012 with the Spanish national side before travelling to London to take part in the summer Olympics, and Del Bosque feels omitting the 24-year-old was the right thing to do given the circumstances.

“Mata’s absence may be conspicuous but there is an explanation. Chelsea rang us to request that we do not call him up because he has hardly had any time off this summer,” Del Bosque stated at a press conference.

“We obviously have a duty to do what’s best for our squad, but there are situations like this that just make common sense.”

The Spain boss then went on to say that Bayern Munich head coach Jupp Heynckes also contacted him with the request not to call up Javi Martinez.

“Javi Martinez wouldn’t have come with us anyway but yes, I have to say that Heynckes called me with concerns about the length of time he has not played for and the difficulty of getting used to German football. While there is no league competition, this time will be very useful for just that.”

The reigning European and world champions first take on Saudi Arabia before starting their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign against Georgia on September 10.

Bayern Munich – Stuttgart Preview: Heynckes' side look to continue winning start against souther rivals

Bayern Munich are set to welcome back Emre Can into the starting line-up after the youngster sat out the 3-0 opening-day win over Greuther Furth.

He should take the place of Dante and slot in of the left-hand side of defence, with full-backs Rafinha, David Alaba and Diego Contento all nursing pre-season injuries.

Bastian Schweinsteiger is still struggling for fitness after a series of niggling injuries, but Toni Kroos, rather than €40 million signing Javi Martinez, will start alongside Luiz Gustavo in midfield. Franck Ribery is fine after missing the Furth clash with a virus, and will come in for Xherdan Shaqiri.

Mario Mandzukic will start up front as Mario Gomez continues his recovery from ankle surgery.

Despite a long-haul trip to Moscow for Europa League commitments, Stuttgart are set to name an unchanged side after Bruno Labbadia announced a host of changes for the clash with Dinamo.

Gotoku Sakai took Tim Hoogland’s spot in at right-back for the midweek match, and is set to retain his spot alongside Serdar Tasci, Maza, and Arthur Boka.

In midfield, Christian Gentner will continue in the stead of Ibrahima Traore in the deep-lying positions, with Tamas Hajnal, Shinji Okazaki and Martin Harnik providing support for Vedad Ibisevic, who bounced back from his penalty miss against Wolfsburg by scoring against Dinamo.

Daniel Didavi remains sidelined with a long-term injury problem.

  • Several Bayern players have represented Stuttgart, including Philipp Lahm, who enjoyed a loan spell there, Mario Gomez, and Holger Badstuber, who came through the club’s academy.
  • The Bavarians triumphed over their southern rivals in the 1986 DFB-Pokal final with a 5-2 scoreline.
  • The last time Stuttgart were victorious at the Allianz Arena was in 2009-10. Bayern went on to win a domestic double, but were beaten by Inter in the Champions League final.
  • Vfb defender Georg Niedermeier spent a total of 14 years at Bayern before moving to his current club in 2009.
  • Stuttgart last won the Bundesliga in 2007-08, Bayern finished in fourth place – the last time they failed to qualify for the Champions League.

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.

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.”