Klopp plays down Club World Cup

The 46-year-old has laughed off the credibility of the tournament, while revealing he has fresh injury concerns over Jakub Blaszczykowski and Sebastian Kehl

Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp has played down the Club World Cup as rivals Bayern Munich prepare to contest the final.

The Bavarians are through to Saturday’s showpiece and will face Raja Casablanca, who are only involved in the competition as a representative of host nation Morocco.

And asked whether he would be happy to see Pep Guardiola’s men lift the trophy, Klopp insisted he would not be donning a Bayern shirt for the occasion.

“Well, if we are honest, if Bayern wins, I would really like it,” he joked. “But its not that I’m sitting in front of the TV on Saturday evening and wearing Bayern things.

“I have seen the game against the Chinese team (Guangzhou Evergrande). Okay, but they won another title (the AFC Champions League).

“But now you’re facing Casablanca. If Humphrey Bogart doesn’t play – that’s the last time I heard about Casablanca.

“Maybe some day it (the competition) will be of a higher value.”

Dortmund welcome Hertha Berlin to Signal Iduna Park on Saturday and Klopp revealed that he has fresh concerns in relation to Sebastian Kehl and Jakub Blaszczykowski, who were forced to withdraw from training on Thursday.

“Marcel Schmelzer was able to train properly without any problems, the full week,” he added.

“Ilkay Gundogan could do a lot as well alone and with the team. He is not at 100 per cent yet, but it’s positive news.

“Sven Bender isn’t training yet, so he is a strong doubt for Saturday. Other than that Sebastian Kehl and Jakoub Blaszczykowski stopped training. I’m not sure if it was injury or just something harmless. Both will rest for today.”

Hitzfeld: Bayern and Dortmund will usurp Spanish football

The Switzerland national coach believes the Bundesliga giants will displace Barcelona and Real Madrid as the teams to beat in Europe

Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld says Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund will overthrow Real Madrid and Barcelona to become the best teams in the world.

Barcelona have reached the semi-finals of the Champions League for two years running, before previous wins in 2009 and 2011, while Real Madrid are nine-time European champions.

However, Bundesliga pair Bayern and Dortmund reached the final of the Champions League last season, beating both Spanish clubs en route to that Wembley showdown and Hitzfeld believes that was a sign of things to come.

“I predicted that a year ago – Spanish football is going to be supplanted at the top of the world game by Bayern and Borussia Dortmund,” he told the official Bundesliga website.

The former Bayern coach added that he feels the Bavarians are in a strong position to retain their Champions League title, which would be an unprecedented achievement.

“Well, the odds have never been as good as they are this time. Bayern have not only a world-class first team, the term applies to their whole squad,” he continued.

“Nobody else can absorb the absence of four or five key players without any drop-off in quality. That’s something new in world football and it speaks volumes for Jupp Heynckes and Pep Guardiola.”

Meanwhile, Hitzfeld also had his say on this year’s Ballon d’Or and he thinks Bayern’s Franck Ribery, who is on the three-man shortlist alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and four-time winner Lionel Messi, deserves the accolade for helping the club to an historic treble.

“In light of everything Bayern have won, Ribery thoroughly deserves it,” he said. “Even though Cristiano Ronaldo has consistently finished second behind Lionel Messi in recent years, which has been a marginal call in itself sometimes.

“But Ronaldo hasn’t enjoyed the same title success, and Ribery has become synonymous with Bayern, being incredibly strong, a real team player and exemplary on and off the pitch.”

Rafinha extends Bayern contract

The Brazilian full-back has signed on a three-year deal which will see him remain at the Allianz Arena until 2017 after a renaissance this term

Bayern Munich have confirmed that Rafinha has extended his contract at the club until the summer of 2017.

The Brazilian moved to the Allianz Arena back in 2011, but seemed certain to leave the club just a few months ago after two disappointing seasons in Bavaria.

However, the arrival of new coach Pep Guardiola, along with Philipp Lahm’s switch to midfield, has seen him take on a first-team role this term; and the former Schalke man is delighted to have committed his future to the club.

“It’s very important to me, my career and my family that I continue to work for one of the best clubs in the world. I am very proud,” the 28-year-old told the club’s official site.

Chief financial officer Jan-Christian Dreesen, who led the negotiations, says it was important to tie Rafinha down in the long term.

“Rafinha is not only a good player on the pitch, but a great character in the dressing room. He has received a boost under Pep Guardiola and is doing his job again,” he continued.

Bayern face Raja Casablanca in the Club World Cup final on Saturday and Rafinha is hoping to add another medal to his collection.

He added: “It’s a dream to play in this final. We really need to play well to win.”

Rafinha’s previous deal at Bayern was due to expire in June 2014.

Kroos: I never doubted my Bayern future

The Germany international says the summer arrivals of Mario Gotze and Thiago Alcantara never forced him to evaluate his position at the club

Bayern Munich midfielder Toni Kroos has said that he never had any doubts that he would make it at the Allianz Arena.

The Germany international was linked with a move away from the club in the summer following the arrivals of Mario Gotze and Thiago Alcantara.

However, he has been an integral part of Pep Guardiola’s starting XI this term and was always certain he would keep his place in the team.

“Of course I noticed what was said and there were many people of this opinion,” he told TZ.

“But I was always sure and I had some conversations with really important people. Ultimately, though, it depends on what I show on the pitch. And that’s why I was relaxed.”

Kroos and Gotze have often featured together this term and Kroos is delighted with the impact the former Borussia Dortmund man has made.

“Mario is a fantastic footballer. I told him when he joined that we would have a lot of fun together. And that he would be a success with me and with Bayern,” he continued.

Bayern take on Raja Casablanca on Saturday in the Club World Cup final and Kroos says 2013 has been an incredible year from him, despite injury ruling him out of the run-in to the Bavarians’ treble.

“It was very positive! We have won everything there was to be won as a team. For me personally, I always played up until the phase of injury,” he said.

“I’ve always had my place in the starting XI. That’s why I’m very satisfied.”

Guardiola's first strike: How Bayern landed 'talent of the century' Gotze from their greatest rivals

The coach was forced to settle for his second-choice transfer target after arriving at Bayern, but still pulled off one of the most controversial deals in history

SPECIAL REPORT
By Daniel Buse

When Bild broke the news of Mario Gotze’s impending summer transfer to Bayern Munich one evening in late April, fans, experts and Borussia Dortmund themselves were wondering whether it was the first day of the month.

In the majority of transfers, all three parties are made aware of any agreements in the deal. But that was not the case when Gotze, once dubbed “the talent of the century” by Matthias Sammer, made the switch across Germany’s Klassiker divide.

The seeds of his controversial move were sown in March 2012 when he signed a contract binding him to Jurgen Klopp’s side until 2016. “Everyone knows how comfortable I feel here,” he said at the time. “The club are far from finished with their recent resurgence. And I want to be a part of it.”

The words seemed somewhat less convincing when details emerged of a €37 million release clause in his contract. Amid the hustle and bustle of Dortmund’s subsequent double win and Gotze’s ongoing injury problems, the story was swept under the carpet. But Bayern had taken note.

Fast forward to December that year and Bayern were well on their way to securing domestic dominance. But it seemed the then 20-year-old had no intention of leaving. “We are not thinking of a move in 2013,” his agent Volker Struth said.

At the time Bayern were working on securing new coach Pep Guardiola, whose arrival at the club was to be confirmed in January. He had a one-name wishlist, Neymar of Santos, but the Bavarians’ senior management disagreed due to their past problems with “young Brazilians”. So they settled on their next-best choice – Gotze.

“Thank me later” | Gotze refuses to celebrate after scoring against BVB

In the spring of 2013, the transfer rapidly began to gain momentum. Shortly after the 3-2 win over Malaga, Gotze’s entourage informed Dortmund that he had agreed terms with Bayern.

“[Sporting director] Michael Zorc walked around the training ground as if someone had died,” Jurgen Klopp reflected. Dortmund’s approval was not needed and they were powerless to prevent their most prized asset from leaving the club.

The public heard of the transfer some time later, but another intriguing story in the Bundesliga broke at the same time. On April 20, Munich-based magazine Focus revealed that Roten president Uli Hoeness was being investigated for tax evasion. Intense media scrutiny followed, but the former West Germany star refused to resign his position.

Two days later, Bild‘s story about Gotze’s move had broken and BVB had no choice but to confirm it the next morning, on the eve of their Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid, providing a convenient smokescreen for the Hoeness story.

“It could have happened at a worse time. Like four hours before the game,” Klopp joked at his pre-match press conference. “But on a scale of one to 10, this is a nine.” He also issued a plea for Dortmund fans to get behind the whole team, even Gotze, in the match.

It clearly worked. Dortmund won 4-1, with Robert Lewandowski scoring all of their goals.

The return leg at the Bernabeu turned out to be Gotze’s last game for the club and anger from the stands intensified. As BVB saw it, their academy graduate and best player was leaving for their most hated rivals.

So what had turned his head? There was a sporting factor that contributed to his decision. “The reason Gotze is leaving? He’s Guardiola’s target,” said Klopp at the first press conference after the deal was announced.

As well as being coached by a man who had won everything and carries a mystique and allure few others can match, there was a financial factor. Gotze and his agent picked up €7m in fees between them upon agreeing the deal worth €10m a year – more than double his salary at BVB.

His total cost could exceed €114m, but the Bavarians had poached Sammer’s “talent of the century” and also significantly weakened their rivals in the process. They believe it will prove a price worth paying.

After Klopp’s side lost to Bayern in the Champions League final, they returned to Germany, with Gotze being greeted by a chorus of boos. Their anger was compounded in November when Gotze rose from the bench to score the first goal in a 3-0 win for Guardiola’s side at Signal Iduna Park.

What had seemed impossible a year ago to Dortmund fans had become a grim reality.