Schalke have been embarrassing, admits Howedes

The experienced defender has acknowledged that Jens Keller’s men have repeatedly let their supporters down of late

Schalke defender Benedikt Howedes has admitted that the Gelsenkirchen side have embarrassed themselves in the past few weeks.

The Bundesliga outfit were hammered 6-1 by Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie before suffering a 5-1 defeat against Bayern Munich at the weekend.

Consequently, Howedes has acknowledged that their performances of late have been well below par, admitting that they were particularly poor at the Allianz Arena.

“It was not worthy of discussion, particularly the way we played in the first half [against Bayern], which was extremely embarrassing. That ruined the whole game for us and there can be no excuses,” Howedes told the official Bundesliga website.

“We were tactically like a schoolboy team. It was really poor. We didn’t get into the tackles and also committed some shocking individual mistakes. It was another bitter lesson for us.

“At the same time, you’ve got to remember that Real and Bayern are not the teams we have to measure ourselves up to, even if that cannot explain the margin of these defeats.”

Schalke will be looking to get back on track on Saturday when they host Hoffenheim.

Who's the wealthiest footballer in the world? Goal Rich List … coming soon

David Beckham was crowned the richest player in 2013, but a number of high-profile names will be keen to take the Englishman’s place

Before retiring from the game last summer, David Beckham topped the 2013 Goal Rich List, commanding an estimated £20 million (€24m) from his off-field commercial activities in 2012 alone.

With eye-watering contracts and major commercial partnerships being signed, the stars names are becoming bigger business players off the field than ever before.

Wayne Rooney can certainly boast a healthy bank balance after penning his new £300,000 (€365,000) per week deal with Manchester United, but is it enough to take the striker to the top of the pile?

The 2014 Rich List will be released this Monday, and there will be plenty of exciting content to go with it. So keep an eye on Goal to see who will be crowned the world’s wealthiest footballer for 2014!

Germany's Philipp Lahm: We were lucky to beat Chile

The Bayern Munich defender admitted his side must improve before the World Cup, while coach Joachim Low praised the visitors for a valiant display

Germany star Philipp Lahm said he felt his team were “lucky” to beat Chile on Wednesday, as they escaped the Mercedes-Benz Arena with a 1-0 win.

Mario Gotze’s first-half strike was enough to give die Mannschaft the victory over the South Americans, who put them under a lot of pressure and created several chances throughout the game.

As the final whistle blew in Stuttgart, the home crowd jeered their side and Lahm admitted he and his team-mates have to improve if they are to have any chance of success in the World Cup this summer.

“If Chile has that many chances, you can call it a lucky victory,” the Bayern Munich defender told ARD after the game.

“The fans paid to see this match and they wanted a better performance, you have to accept [the jeers].

“We have some work ahead of us and we are aware of that. We have to learn from this match. We will be better prepared at the World Cup.”

Centre-back Per Mertesacker insisted the meeting with Chile will prove extremely beneficial as they now know the quality of opposition they will be going up against in Brazil.

“It was like being at the World Cup already – only without the high temperatures,” the Arsenal centre-half said.

“We saw that we have lots to do when we meet an unorthodox team. We should have attacked with more pace since they were playing with four strikers at one point.”

Germany coach Joachim Low praised Wednesday’s opponents, but said the way his side were so easily put under pressure will not change the way he sets up during the World Cup.

“I think now everybody saw how strong Chile is,” the coach remarked. “They are strong technically, tactically and at running. We had many situations where we were not close enough to our opponents.

“There were spaces where Chile were always able to get the ball. We were not able to challenge them.

“Our players must improve so they can play an important part as well. Some of them have to work hard in the following three months to find their fitness and form and they will manage to do that.

“My plan has nothing to do with this match.”

Scolari impressed with Rafinha showing

The full-back is bidding to make a late case for a place in Brazil’s World Cup squad and put in a promising display as the Selecao romped to victory on Wednesday

Luiz Felipe Scolari admitted he was impressed with the performance of Rafinha after a Neymar hat-trick helped fire Brazil to a 5-0 friendly win over South Africa.

The Selecao boss revealed on Tuesday that he is 95% certain of the squad he will select for this summer’s World Cup, but handed a surprise call-up to the Bayern right-back for Wednesday’s game.

Rafinha played the full 90 minutes as goals from Oscar, Fernandinho and a Neymar treble sealed a comfortable victory, with Scolari pleased with his players.

He was very good today and been good in what I’ve seen from him at Bayern. He has integrated well into the squad,” he told reporters.

“The scoreline doesn’t tell the whole story of the game. South Africa played very well, they moved the ball well and played very well. It’s a surprise they are not at the World Cup, looking at the way they played.

 “The difference between the two teams is that we have some very special players who can win games.”

 Brazil will face African opposition at the World Cup having been drawn alongside Cameroon in Group A.

De Bruyne: Chelsea blocked Dortmund move after missing out on Lewandowski

The attacker’s agent, who has since joined Wolfsburg, claimed to his client that Jose Mourinho’s failure to land the Poland international saw a move to Westfalenstadion collapse

Kevin De Bruyne has claimed that his proposed move to Borussia Dortmund collapsed last summer after Chelsea failed to sign Robert Lewandowski.

The 22-year-old says his agent told him of the club’s interest in the Pole, who eventually agreed a move to European champions Bayern Munich at the end of the season on a free transfer.

“[Jose] Mourinho said no [to a Dortmund move],” De Bruyne told Bild.

When asked if a failed moved for Lewandowski played a part in the failed move, the winger added: “That’s what they told me and also my agent.

“But that is professional football. Where there is a lot of money changing hands, there is also a lot of politics.”

De Bruyne eventually completed a big-money move to Wolfsburg in January after falling down the pecking order under Mourinho, and is now eyeing a DFB-Pokal victory over Dortmund.

He continued: “Since [sporting director] Klaus Allofs is here, the VfL are really progressing. That convinced me. They wanted me from the start and were always interested to find a good solution in the transfer talks with Chelsea.

“Of course it is a goal for me to win titles. We are in the DFB-Pokal against Dortmund. We want to win there.”