Germany desperately need Lahm, insists Beckenbauer

The former West Germany star admits he finds it difficult to understand the Bayern Munich captain’s decision to retire from international football

Germany icon Franz Beckenbauer has voiced his surprise with Philipp Lahm’s decision to retire from international football, claiming the world champions still “desperately need” the Bayern Munich defender.

The 30-year-old stepped down from national team duties after guiding Germany to World Cup glory in Brazil earlier this summer and Beckenbauer finds it hard to comprehend Lahm’s decision.

“Lahm’s decision to retire came as a complete surprise to me. I would have understood it for a number of players, but not for Philipp Lahm,” Beckenbauer told Sky Sports HD.

“The team desperately needs him. He is the leader of this squad. It will be very tough to replace him.

“He still has plenty to offer at the age of 30. He is more than capable of using his energy wisely, regardless of his position on the pitch.

“Yes, he won the World Cup, but that’s not a reason to say farewell to the national team.”

Lahm made 113 international appearances for Germany, scoring five goals in the process, and featured at three World Cups and as many European Championships.

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MSV Duisburg 1-1 Bayern Munich: Lewandowski scores on debut

The ex-Dortmund striker netted on his first appearance for Pep Guardiola’s side but they had to settle for a draw against third-tier opposition

Robert Lewandowski marked his first Bayern Munich appearance with a goal as the Bavarians were held to a 1-1 draw by third-tier MSV Duisburg.

The Pole was making his Bayern bow following his Bosman transfer from bitter rivals Borussia Dortmund, and looked sharp in attack, keeping home goalkeeper Michael Ratajczak busy in a goalless first half.

However, substitute shot-stopper Marcel Lenz was powerless to prevent Lewandowski opening his account just after the hour mark, following good work from Rafinha.

A frustrating outing saw Bayern, still without their World Cup contingent, struggle to create opportunities playing a 3-5-2 system with just one recognised centre-half on the pitch in the shape of Holger Badstuber, whose comeback from injury was boosted by an 85-minute run-out.

And 20-year-old winger Fabian Schnellhardt grabbed a deserved draw for Duisburg, curling home a fine strike.

Bayern made a good start with regular left-back David Alaba probing from a central midfield role that he often operates in for Austria at international level.

Lewnadowski went close eight minutes in, latching onto Lucas Scholl’s downward volley, but Ratajczak was alert to flick away the striker’s flicked header.

Alexander Sieghart saw a good effort saved for Bayern before Duisburg raced up the other end and should have taken the lead, only for Zlatko Janjic to inexplicably miss from six yards.

A quick start at both ends belied the rest of the half as Bayern set up camp in Duisburg’s half but found centre-backs Christopher Schorch and Thomas Meissner in stubborn mood.

The first period ended goalless and Bayern’s struggles continued immediately after the break, Duisburg calling Tom Starke into action through Scorch and Janjic.

But Bayern’s class finally told as Rafinha clipped a neat delivery in from the right flank and Lewandowski touched the ball away from Lenz before providing a low finish.

The hosts were determined to give a good account of themselves, though, and produced the game’s outstanding moment through Schnellhardt.

Drifting in from the right channel, the Germany Under-20 international touched the ball onto his left foot before curling a superb 25-yard effort out of Starke’s reach.

Michael Eberlein wasted a good opening soon after when racing through on goal, with the winger’s touch letting him down.

Lenz denied Lewandowski in the closing stages, diving at the Poland striker’s feet to preserve a creditable result for the 3. Liga side.

Bayern dismiss Cuadrado rumours

The winger has been linked with a host of top clubs on the back of an impressive World Cup, but he will not be joining the Bundesliga champions

Bayern Munich sporting director Mathias Sammer has described rumours linking the club with a move for Fiorentina star Juan Cuadrado as “nonsense”.

The winger was one of the stand-out performers at the World Cup in Brazil, as he helped Colombia to the quarter-finals of the competition.

Since then he has been linked with a host of big clubs, including Bayern and Barcelona, but Sammer has laughed off reports he is on their wish list. 

He told TV1: “The rumours about Cuadrado are absolute nonsense. If all speculation were true, we would have a 57-man squad.” 

Midfielder Toni Kroos departed the Allianz Arena last week to join Real Madrid in a €20 million deal but Sammer was non-committal over the prospect of bringing in a direct replacement.

He added: “We must consider if it’s good enough or if we will do anything further.” 

Bayern’s World Cup stars will have just three weeks to recover before beginning the defence of their Bundesliga crown against Wolfsburg on August 22.

CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has criticised rival clubs and accused them of trying to “hurt” his side for failing to grant a later start date for the division and Sammer admits he is concerned over the fitness of several players.

“I am afraid because the mental and physical burden could lead to injury concerns.”

Neymar: Messi was one of World Cup's top three players

A number of pundits did not feel that the Barcelona ace should have been voted the top player in Brazil this summer but the Selecao starlet has jumped to his club-mate’s defence

Neymar has attempted to defuse the controversy over Lionel Messi’s Golden Ball triumph in Brazil by arguing that the Argentina captain was “at least” among the top three players at the World Cup.

Messi led his country all the way to the final in Rio de Janeiro, where they were edged 1-0 after extra-time by Germany.

The 27-year-old was presented with the Golden Ball for the tournament’s best player after the match, much to the bemusement of many football fans and pundits, with Argentine icon Diego Maradona even claiming that it had been down to “some marketing plan”.

Neymar, though, believes that Messi, who failed to score in the knockout stages, did enough in Brazil to at least mark himself out as a legitimate contender for the accolade.

“I’m a huge Messi fan, as a player and as a person,” the Selecao starlet said of his Barcelona team-mate during an interview with Rede Globo‘s ‘Fantastico’. 

“I don’t know whether it was fair or not but, for me, he was one of the best players in World Cup.

“At least in the top three, anyway. I think [Germany midfielder Bastian] Schweinsteiger and [Netherlands attacker Arjen] Robben were also among the top three.”

Neymar, of course, saw his tournament ended by a fractured vertebra sustained in his country’s quarter-final win over Colombia and then had to sit on helpless as Brazil suffered a humiliating last-four hammering at the hands of Germany.

The inquest into the Selecao’s capitulation is ongoing but Neymar does not believe that Luiz Felipe Scolari, who has since resigned, should have been made the scapegoat for what he believes was a cultural failing.

“I’m a guy who don’t know much about tactics,” he confessed. “But we head a leader [Scolari] who was one of the best Brazilian coaches the Selecao have ever had.

“I also question myself about why we did not win the World Cup, but I can’t find an way to explain it.

“But who prepares better wins in football. Preparation is everything.

“I think the Brazilians are some of the best players in the world but every training session in Europe is taken seriously.

“In Brazil, it’s different. You train more, but some time you train with less determination. Brazilians are like that.

“Brazilian football is behind Germany and Spain football. We have to be men up to admit that.”

Kroos: I only decided to join Madrid after Bayern talks collapsed

The 24-year-old has admitted that his initial plan was to stay at the Allianz Arena, but he is now looking forward to the challenge of playing for the European champions

Toni Kroos has stressed that he only started thinking about a transfer to Real Madrid after talks with Bayern Munich over a new deal collapsed.

The Germany international was keen to stay in Bavaria, but he eventually opted to join the European champions for a reported €25 million after failing to agree terms on a contract extension with Pep Guardiola’s side.

“I first started thinking about a transfer when talks with Bayern were unsuccessful. Bayern were always my priority and I didn’t talk to anybody else,” Kroos told the official DFB website.

“I then decided to go for a new challenge after we failed to reach an agreement with Bayern and a number of clubs showed an interest in signing me. Winning the World Cup settled it.”

The versatile midfielder dismissed rumours that he left the Allianz Arena because he did not feel appreciated by the Bundesliga titleholders.

“I didn’t leave Bayern because I didn’t feel valued,” he insisted. “I played for one of the biggest clubs in the world and was a starter under several coaches.

“I always played in the major competitions and Bayern always looked after me. [Coach] Pep Guardiola and [sporting director] Matthias Sammer were important to me and the fans always supported me as well.

“But Real Madrid are a huge challenge. People all over the world know Madrid.

“Thousands of people attended my presentation at the Santiago Bernabeu and club president Florentino Perez was interrupted a number of times by cheering fans. I have never seen anything like it.

“This club is just the right step for me.”

The 24-year-old faces stiff competition for a place in midfield at Madrid, but he has little doubt that he will become a regular at his new club.

“You have to deal with that as a footballer,” he reasoned. “I am looking forward to playing alongside guys like Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos and Sami Khedira.

“No team has ever won back-to-back Champions League and that’s exactly why Madrid have signed some new players.

“It can only help to bring in new players who want to prove themselves and challenge the established players.”