Neymar will only get better, says Dante

The centre-back has nothing but praise for the creative attacker and has insisted that Bayern want to win as much silverware as possible this term

By Hocine Harzoune

Bayern Munich defender Dante believes that Neymar will only get better over time and sees the Barcelona forward as one of Brazil’s leaders.

The 22-year-old was one of the undisputed stars of the 2014 World Cup until injury ruled him out of the tournament, with Brazil then losing 7-1 to Germany in the semi-finals and 3-0 to Netherlands in the third-place playoff.

“Neymar is only going to get better,” Dante told Goal. “He has been one of the leaders of Brazil for the past two seasons. Hopefully he will continue to be successful for the national team.”

The defender then went on to discuss the appointment of Dunga as Brazil’s new coach and the 50-year-old’s plans with the Selecao after dropping a number of regulars after their disappointing World Cup.

“Dunga is the right man. He is a good coach and had a lot of success with the national team before. I hope he can be successful again.

“Of course, we all expected him to make some changes to the team after the result at the World Cup. I just have to keep on doing my best for Bayern and hope I get another chance. It is clear that we will have some young players alongside more experienced names.

“The last time Brazil won the World Cup was in 2002. There are a lot of factors one needs to take into consideration to win the World Cup. We must keep improving and get better in all areas.”

Dante also had his say on Bayern Munich’s ambitions for the 2014-15 campaign and stressed that the Bundesliga champions want to win as many trophies as possible.

“The objective at Bayern is always to win titles. It will be hard to win a third consecutive Bundesliga title, but we have started the new season with a good result. We are the team to beat.

“The Champions League is perhaps the most difficult competition in the world. There are a nuber of teams that have a shot at winning it. We have to be at our best in order to have a chance. Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain – who have all invested heavily – are the favourites for me.”

Cuadrado as talented as Ribery, says Fiorentina team-mate Gomez

The prolific striker believes the sought-after Colombian rivals the Bayern star’s abilities and has set his sights on Champions League qualification

Fiorentina striker Mario Gomez believes that Juan Cuadrado is at the same level as his former Bayern Munich team-mate Franck Ribery.

The Colombia international was one of the stars of the 2014 World Cup and his fine performances both at club and international level have allegedly caught the attention of teams such as Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Manchester United.

Although Fiorentina are keen to hold on to Cuadrado, Gomez has little doubt that the 26-year-old is good enough for a bigger club.

“I don’t really like to compare players, because each player is different. But I’d say that Cuadrado is the same level as Ribery when you look at his talent and potential,” Gomez was quoted as saying by Corriere dello Sport.

The German striker then went on to discuss Fiorentina’s ambitions for 2014-15 and stressed that they aim to qualify for the Champions League.

“We have to try and make it to the Champions League. I don’t like to make predictions, but we’re aiming for the Champions League. I hope that the gap is smaller than last season,” he said.

“It will not be easy, though. Roma are always strong and so are Juventus. And you always have to keep an eye on [AC] Milan and Inter as well.”

Fiorentina finished fourth in Serie A last term.

Bayern Munich confirm Xabi Alonso agreement

The experienced midfielder is set to continue his career at the Bundesliga champions after losing his starting berth at Madrid and will undergo a medical imminently

Bayern Munich have announced they are on the verge of completing a deal with Real Madrid for the transfer of Xabi Alonso, with the former Spain international travelling to Germany on Thursday to undergo his medical.

The Bundesliga champions were keen to add an extra midfielder to their squad due to the ongoing injury problems of players such as Javi Martinez, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thiago Alcantara and they see the 32-year-old Alonso as a valuable addition.

The club were linked with a bid for Athletic Bilbao’s Ander Iturraspe this week but have now confirmed it is Alonso who is poised to move to the Allianz Arena, subject to a medical.

“It is correct that we have been in talks with Real Madrid and Xabi Alonso,” Bayern executive board member Jan-Christian Dreesen said at a press conference.

“We have basically reached an agreement. The player will arrive in Munich later on Thursday to undergo his medical.”

Alonso signed a new contract with Real Madrid until the summer of 2016 earlier this year, but has lost his starting berth at the Santiago Bernabeu side this term as Carlo Ancelotti favours new signing Toni Kroos alongside Luka Modric and James Rodriguez in a three-man midfield.

The midfielder, who announced his decision to retire from Spain duty earlier this week, started his professional career with Real Sociedad and also played for Eibar and Liverpool before joining Madrid in the summer of 2009.

He had since made over 200 official appearances in all competitions for the Bernabeu outfit, but will now continue his career at Bayern.

Goal also understands that Madrid are eyeing a move for Wolfsburg midfielder Luiz Gustavo to replace Alonso in the Spanish capital.

Robben: Bayern the best team I ever played for

The former PSV star believes the Bavarians will only get better and has admitted that winning the Champions League in 2013 lifted a weight off his shoulders

Arjen Robben has stressed that the current Bayern Munich team are better than the Real Madrid and Chelsea squads he was part of in the past.

The Netherlands international wore the Chelsea jersey between 2004 and 2007 before making the move to the Santiago Bernabeu side, only to join Bayern in the summer of 2009.

Robben says he has no regrets at all at joining the reigning Bundesliga champions as he believes they are the best side he has played for during his career.

“I have never played in a better team than this Bayern,” the 30-year-old was quoted as saying by Kicker.

“I have been here since 2009 and it has only gone uphill since. And things are looking even better for the future. Everybody will stay on.

“Only [Toni] Kroos and [Mario] Mandzukic have left and we brought in some good new players for them.

“And we don’t need to adapt to the new coach any more either. We all know him, his philosophy and what he expects from us.”

The experienced attacker has been in fine form in the past 18 months and he has made it clear that Bayern’s Champions League win in 2013 – a triumph Robben himself secured with the winner against Borussia Dortmund in the final – was vital to him.

“I have become much more relaxed and that’s largely down to the Champions League victory in 2013 when I scored the winning goal. It was a huge relief to finally win that title I had been craving for. All the pressure was gone after that,” he revealed.

“And Guardiola also told me to relax and that I had shown that I was a big-game player when we first spoke. That helped as well.”

Champions League Draw: Arsenal in pot 1 & Roma in pot 4 as Real Madrid lead the way

CL seedings for the group stage see last year’s winners among the front-runners, while the Serie A outfit promise a ‘group of death’ from their lowly place in Pot 4

The Champions League Group Stage draw will take place at 17:45CET on Thursday August 28 2014, LIVE right here on Here we discover just who will face whom as Europe’s premier club competition gets into full swing …

How it works

The 32 qualifiers have been divided into four pots based on the Uefa coefficients, which are in turn decided by a mixture of the team’s own performance in Europe over the past five seasons, as well as the strength of their country’s league.

The Champions League group stage comprises eight pools of four teams: consequently, a team from each pot is drawn and placed into one of the eight groups available. This is done by pot and not “one at a time”: that is to say, all the teams from pot one will be placed into a group, and then pot two, and so on down to the fourth and final pot.

There are some restrictions, though. Teams from the same national association cannot be drawn together, and even prior to that there will be two ‘sets’ of groups decided for the purpose of television rights. For example, the four teams from Spain cannot all be drawn in the same set.


The Champions League Group Stage pots for 2014-15 are as follows:

What to look out for

  • The Group of Death: Just how hard can the Champions League be? Consider the strength of a group such as the following: Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool and Roma … Or how about Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Ajax and Monaco? 
  • Recent Reunions: Real Madrid proved to be too strong for Borussia Dortmund last season and may well relish a re-match against their German opponents. Meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain’s European adventure came to an end against Chelsea in 2013-14 and the Ligue 1 champions will be keen to get a shot at revenge.