Lahm could keep out Schweinsteiger, says Beckenbauer

The club’s honorary president thinks the Germany midfielder could face a tough task to win back his starting berth in the Bayern Munich side

Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer believes Philipp Lahm could keep Bastian Schweinsteiger on the bench at Bayern Munich in the second half of the 2013-14 campaign.

Lahm featured in midfield before the winter break due to Schweinsteiger’s persistent injury problems, and the Bayern captain delivered a series of impressive displays at the heart of Pep Guardiola’s side.

Schweinsteiger recently resumed regular training at Bayern’s winter training camp, but Beckenbauer is not convinced the influential midfielder will be reinstated right away following Lahm’s strong performances.

“Lahm could keep Schweinsteiger out of the Bayern starting XI. Philipp could pretty much play in every position, except goalkeeper,” Beckenbauer was quoted as saying by Bild.

“The final decision obviously lies with Pep Guardiola and it also depends on Schweinsteiger’s fitness.

“I hope that Schweinsteiger can play a good second half of the season after all his physical problems in 2013.”

Bayern resume Bundesliga action on Friday evening when they travel to Borussia Monchengladbach. They currently top the league table with 44 points from 16 games.

Henry: Ribery should have beaten Ronaldo to Ballon d'Or

The Bayern Munich attacker this week claimed he did enough to win the award for the world’s best player, and the former Barcelona star has agreed with his compatriot

By Kris Voakes | International Football Correspondent

Franck Ribery is right in his assertion that he should have won the 2013 Fifa Ballon d’Or, according to former France team-mate Thierry Henry.

Ribery won five trophies with Bayern Munich over the last calendar year, including the treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal, yet found himself finishing third behind Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona star Lionel Messi in the voting at last week’s Ballon d’Or Gala in Zurich.

Henry told Goal that the 30-year-old will go down in history for both club and country after a year in which he did everything possible to win the prize for the world’s best player.

“For me, Ribery should have won it,” Henry stated. “I genuinely thought it was going to be a great win. He’s a great player and will remain in the history of both our country and of Bayern Munich as a great player, so he just has to go out there and play now.

“I don’t think he has to prove anything to anyone – he has been doing that for a very long time with Bayern Munich. He won everything but the German Super Cup, so everybody knows what Franck Ribery can do.”

After also playing a key part in France’s dramatic late qualification for the World Cup at the expense of Ukraine, Henry is of the mind that Ribery could be part of a successful les Bleus in Brazil this summer.

“As a Frenchman, I would love to see them do well,” admitted Henry. “Spain are still the team to beat, and who can beat Brazil at their own place? That won’t be easy. Germany and Italy are always around, and then you have Argentina and Messi.

“But whenever Didier Deschamps is in charge of something – whether as a player or a manager – he’s always successful with it. But even if they don’t win it, having a good World Cup can be good for the Euros in France in 2016. Hopefully they can play well, go all the way and make us proud.”

The former Arsenal and Barcelona striker was a member of the French World Cup-winning squad in 1998, and he insists it is vital that his countrymen start the tournament well, with relative underdogs Honduras, Switzerland and Ecuador to negotiate in Group E.

“You need togetherness to win a World Cup, but you also need results because if you don’t win that first game you’re already in trouble,” he explained. “People are going to question you and you might question yourself, and that’s not always easy to prepare for the second game.

“You need to have great players too – not 11 guys, but the guys on the bench and staff too. Sometimes players have to accept they won’t play, but then you might need them in the quarter-final.”

France open their 2014 campaign on June 15 against Honduras in Porto Alegre, and face Switzerland in Salvador five days later.

Henry was speaking at PUMA’s 2014 Nature of Believing event in Barcelona which featured the launch of the new evoPOWER football boot.

PUMA Power players Cesc Fàbregas, Marco Reus and Mario Balotelli put their football skills to the test on the evoPOWER wall, the custom built football simulator that utilises Hawk Eye technology to measure players’ power and accuracy.

evoPOWER was inspired by the freedom of movement of a bare foot and the players showcased their skills and the boots’ performance enhancing technology through four interactive challenges.

Muller: I see no reason to leave Bayern for Real Madrid

The Germany international admits it can be flattering to hear of potential foreign suitors but insists he is happy with life with the European champions

Thomas Muller has made it clear that he sees no reason to leave Bayern Munich for Real Madrid amid reports linking him with a move to the Spanish giants.

The Santiago Bernabeu side are rumoured to be considering a swoop for the 24-year-old at the end of the season, but while Muller admits it can be flattering to hear of interest from foreign sides, he maintains he is happy with life at the Allianz Arena.

“Real Madrid? There has been a lot of speculation about my future in the past few weeks, months and even years. We have all seen what has come from those rumours so far,” Muller told AZ.

“It’s not a bad feeling when you hear about interest from abroad.

“However, at the moment there is absolutely no reason for me to leave Bayern Munich for another club.”

Muller has been in sublime form for the Bundesliga leaders so far this season, scoring seven goals in 16 league appearances.

The versatile attacker has a contract with Bayern until the summer of 2017.

Borussia Monchengladbach-Bayern Munich Betting Preview: Guardiola's men to hit the ground running in a high-scoring encounter

The Bundesliga resumes with a clash between the highest-scoring home team and the most prolific away side – and Goal’s predicting action at both ends

The Bundesliga season recommences with an eye-catching clash on Friday, as third-placed Borussia Monchengladbach welcome leaders Bayern Munich to Borussia Park.

With six wins and two draws in their last eight league games, die Fohlen finished 2013 in fine form and are available at 6/1 (7.00) with William Hill to kick off the new year in style with victory over the European champions.

Pep Guardiola’s men lifted the Club World Cup in their last competitive fixture and are 2/5 (1.40) favourites to follow that success up with a ninth-consecutive Bundesliga win.

The champions have not drawn a match since early October, but you can get odds of 4/1 (5.00) on them sharing the spoils for the first time in 16 competitive matches in this one.

Having made the first half of the league season look all too easy after recording 14 wins and two draws in their opening 16 fixtures, neutrals will be eager to see whether anyone can overcome FCB this campaign.

Those who remember the last time these sides met in the opening Ruckrunde fixture may hold out some hope for an upset, with Lucien Favre’s team having secured a shock 3-1 win at this stadium back in January 2012.

However, having failed to beat their guests in any of the five encounters since then, it is surely too much to expect for lightning to strike twice when Gladbach take on a team unbeaten in 26 Bundesliga games on the road and who thrashed Werder Bremen 7-0 in their previous away league fixture.

While a similarly one-sided scoreline is unlikely considering the hosts have scored more goals in front of their own fans than any other team in the league, it is difficult to see Bayern failing to pick up all three points once again, having already beaten Schalke and Borussia Dortmund 4-0 and 3-0 respectively away from home this season.

With this in mind, odds of 7/4 (2.75) are not to be ignored on Bayern coming out on top despite the hosts finding the net, as they have in every previous home game so far this campaign.

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Al Hain-Cole is a Liverpool fan, experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Al you can follow him on Twitter here.

Real Madrid football's highest earners for record ninth year

The Spanish giants top Deloitte’s Football Money List yet again, while there are noticeable gains for Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain

Real Madrid were the world’s highest-earning football club in 2012-13, racking up a record ninth successive season at the top of Deloitte’s Football Money League.

The Spaniards made a total of €518.9 million over the course of the campaign, out-earning rivals Barcelona by €36.3m. Manchester United, who held the No.1 spot between 1996-97 and 2003-04, dropped out of the top three in the Deloitte chart for the first time, with Champions League winners Bayern Munich collecting €7.4m more than the English champions.

The big gains, though, were made by Paris Saint-Germain, who leapt from 10th place to fifth in the rankings thanks to an 81 per cent year-on-year gain in revenue.

The Parisians earned their first French league title for 19 years during the campaign and also made the lucrative signing of David Beckham from LA Galaxy for the second half of the season before his retirement from football. The increased pulling power of the Qatari-owned club resulted in them generating the highest commercial revenue in the game at €254.7m.

For the first time in the history of the list, recording the revenues of sides from around the world, the top 30 clubs all made in excess of €100m during the course of the campaign. This compares to just one club – Manchester United – breaking the same barrier in the first release for season 1996/97.

As with the 2011-12 list, the Premier League is the best represented division, with six clubs appearing. Serie A and the Bundesliga each have four clubs, while only Atletico Madrid join Madrid and Barcelona from La Liga. Fenerbahce join Galatasaray to ensure that Turkey have two representatives for the first time.

But the continued dominance of the two Spanish giants could soon be under threat, according to Austin Houlihan, a senior consultant in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte.

“Real Madrid still enjoy a healthy gap over Barcelona and have done over the past few years,” Houlihan told Goal. “The interesting thing, along with Barcelona being expected to accrue over €500m in revenue next year, is around Manchester United. If they continue to qualify for Europe, and with the Chevrolet sponsorship deal in 2014-15, then they have a real opportunity to challenge the top two.”

But Houlihan also believes that there will be some positive change in the Spaniards’ figures due to the likely new La Liga TV deal which is touted for two seasons’ time.

“They are continuing to discuss a collective distribution model and the year they are working towards is 2015-16,” Houlihan explains.

“What has happened in Serie A since 2010-11 is that they experienced an overall uplift in the overall value of collective deals compared to individual deals, so there are promising signs for Spain.”

Lower down, the rise of Galatasaray and Fenerbahce reflects a desire to bring some of the attractiveness of other leagues to emerging nations.

“It shows a strong fanbase in growing economies and a desire to push the elite in the big five leagues,” Houlihan continues. “You also have Corinthians just outside the top 20.

“We expect to see them continue to challenge for places further up the standings.”

Those gains could also see Italian clubs fall further, with no Serie A outfit in the top eight this year.

“Italy have stagnated in terms of revenue,” Houlihan tells Goal. “A key reason behind that is stadia and the need to invest in and improve their facilities – which will have a knock-on effect to commercial and matchday revenues.

“If you look at Juventus’ new stadium and the revenue boost they have received since redeveloping, then a lot of other Italian clubs will look at those benefits.

“The challenge they have is that the stadia is owned by the local municipality, which makes it even more challenging to push through redevelopment plans.”

All revenue figures in the Money League report are based on the 2012-13 season or the most recent available calendar year.

It focuses on each club’s revenues from day to day football operations, including matchday ticket and corporate hospitality sales, broadcast rights revenues including distributions from participation in European club competitions, sponsorship, merchandising, and other commercial operations, but excluding transfer income.