'Dortmund second best in Europe behind Bayern'

Paul Breitner, a senior figure at the Allianz Arena, believes that only BVB, Real Madrid and Barcelona can hold a candle to the European champions

Bayern Munich’s main rivals in the Champions League are Borussia Dortmund, according to Bavarians chief Paul Breitner.

The Schwarzgelben were thrashed 3-0 by the Roten last weekend to leave their Bundesliga hopes bruised but recovered with a midweek win over Napoli, which leaves them in a healthy position to reach the last 16 in the top European cup.

Although the World Cup winner acknowledged the threat posed by Real Madrid and Barcelona, Breitner believes last season’s runners-up in the Champions League are the greatest enemies to Bayern’s continental crown when they are without injuries.

“We are the clear favourites,” the Germany legend told AZ. “Then come Madrid, Barcelona and Dortmund.

“That, to me, is the current order in world football, so the starting position for where we stand in 2014.

“In normal circumstances, for me Dortmund are absolutely the clear second best in Europe! When all of their players are fit, they are at the pinnacle of the game.”

Although Breitner retained reverence for treble-winning Jupp Heynckes, who was replaced as head coach in the summer, the 1972 European Championship victor thinks that the influence of Pep Guardiola has taken the Bavarians’ quality up a level.

“Heynckes developed our play very much but now our game is even more unpredictable and varied,” the German continued. “I merit that to Guardiola.”

Bayern’s next game is at home to Eintracht Braunschweig on Saturday, which kick-off at 15:30CET.

Guardiola worried by injury crisis

The Spaniard believes his squad will be stretched to the limit over the coming weeks, with a number of first team players out injured

Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola has admitted that he is worried by the club’s mounting injury crisis.

The likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Claudio Pizarro, Franck Ribery, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm are all missing for the Bavarians with a variety of knocks.

With the European champions set to enter a gruelling period in the season, Guardiola feels the support of the home fans could be more valuable than ever.

“This is a difficult situation,” he told reporters at a press conference.

“I don’t know that the condition of the team is. I hope that our heads are in the right place. When our legs have not got much in them, we need the support of our fans.

“We have to survive the next two or three weeks. That’s why we have a second team.”

However, Guardiola did confirm that Mario Mandzukic and Diego Contento can return to the fold for Saturday’s match against Eintracht Braunschweig.

Looking ahead to the clash with the newly-promoted side, the former Spain international called upon his players not to underestimate the northerners, due to their impressive results against the Bundesliga’s top teams.

He added: “They will be 100 per cent focused. For us, it is difficult to maintain that level.”

Finally, the 42-year-old drew a line under the recent mole scandal, in which Bayern’s line-up and tactics were leaked to Bild prior to their clash with Borussia Dortmund.

“This is normal at a big club. It happens. I’m trying to convince my players that it’s best if things remain amongst us. The issue is over now.”

Robben: Bayern not taking anything for granted

The Dutchman has warned his team-mates over the dangers of getting carried away by their sensational start to their 2013-14 campaign

Arjen Robben has insisted that Bayern Munich will not be taking anything for granted ahead of this weekend’s Bundesliga match against lowly Eintracht Braunschweig.

The Bavarians have been in superb form so far this season, winning 11 out of their 13 domestic assignments to date, as well as all five of their Champions League group games thus far to set a new record of 20 consecutive victories in the competition.

However, Robben says Bayern cannot afford to get carried away, arguing that if they start buying into their own hype that they could easily come unstuck against Braunschweig, who currently prop up the Bundesliga.

“We respect each and every opponent and I’ve often seen in my career that when top plays bottom, strange things can happen,” Robben told reporters.

“That’s why everyone should concentrate on their performance, we have to be fully focused and it won’t be easy.

“You should never take anything for granted in games like these.”

Robben has been a key figure for Bayern in 2013-14, scoring 10 goals in 18 appearances in all competitions.

Ribery: I'm more loved than Ronaldo

The Frenchman says that he does not need his club’s supporters to don face masks in order for him to feel appreciated at the Allianz Arena

Franck Ribery believes the Bayern Munich fans’ affection for him is even stronger than the Real Madrid faithful’s love for Ballon d’Or rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

Around 45,000 supporters inside Santiago Bernabeu opted for an unusual way to show their support for Ronaldo during Wednesday’s Champions League win over Galatasaray by donning specially-made face masks of the currently injured Portugal international.

However, Ribery says that he is not the least bit envious of the Blancos superstar, claiming that he experiences even greater levels of adulation at the Allianz Arena on a weekly basis.

“It was a very nice gesture toward Ronaldo, but the affection the Bayern fans are showing me is even stronger,” the France international told RTL.

“I know how they feel about me and there’s no need for them to show it with actions like this.

“On the contrary, I already know that the Bayern fans love me and they show me just that day after day.”

Ribery has been in sublime form for Bayern in 2013 and is one of the favourites to win the Ballon d’Or, with Ronaldo and Barcelona star Lionel Messi the two other frontrunners.

Gotze: I will only get better

The €37 million summer signing is determined to prove his worth to the Bavarians now that he is fully fit, adding that he is happy to play wherever Pep Guardiola needs him

Bayern Munich attacker Mario Gotze says that he is only going to get better and better in the coming months.

The 21-year-old missed the start of the 2013-14 campaign through injury, but he has been in impressive form in recent weeks, netting a crucial goal in last weekend’s 3-0 rout of former club Borussia Dortmund before scoring a stunner in the midweek Champions League success at CSKA Moscow.

Consequently, Gotze is now brimming with confidence and is optimistic that the best is yet to come from him.

“It is important to bear in mind that I had been recovering from injury for quite a while. I was not 100 per cent yet and it was not easy to gain full fitness,” the Germany international was quoted as saying by TZ.

“But I feel that I am 100 per cent now and that I’m in peak condition. I hope that I will only get better from here on.”

Gotze has featured both in midfield and the false-nine role this season, but he insists that he has no preference as to where coach Pep Guardiola uses him.

“Positions do not really matter,” the playmaker argued. “We are switching positions a lot and always keep moving. We aim to be flexible and unpredictable.

“In the end, we’re just trying to play good football.”

The former Dortmund star has so far netted four goals in 12 appearances in all competitions for Bayern.