Thomas Muller has declared himself ready to return to international duty after Germany boss Joachim Low hinted at a recall for the Bayern Munich attacker ahead of Euro 2020.

Low said last week he is considering a U-turn that would see Muller, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng return from the wilderness in time for the rescheduled tournament.

The World Cup-winning trio were told by Low in March 2019 that they would no longer be part of his plans, which left Muller – a regular up until that point – "dumbfounded".

However, with Low under pressure on the back of November's 6-0 thrashing against Spain, the long-serving coach has reiterated the door is once again open for the trio.

Speaking to Sky Sport Germany on Saturday, Low said: "The European Championship is a separate competition and our job is to bring the best players and the best team with us in order to guarantee the greatest possible success."

The three players have a combined 246 caps and have impressed at club level since last featuring for Germany, with Muller and Boateng helping Bayern to six major trophies since the start of last season.

Muller, who has a combined 50 goals and assists in the Bundesliga since the start of last season – only team-mate Robert Lewandowski (75) has more – would welcome the chance to represent his country again this year.

"I feel comfortable in the team. Standing on the pitch with the boys is fun, and there are a lot of national team players on the pitch," he said.

"I feel like chasing titles in the summer. We will see if it is the end for me after the Champions League final or whether I will play for the national team. I'm definitely ready."

Muller played 91 minutes of Bayern's 4-2 win over Borussia Dortmund in Saturday's Der Klassiker, a game in which Boateng was forced off in the second half with a knee injury.

Boateng has had numerous setbacks in the past and Bayern boss Hansi Flick is awaiting news on the severity of this latest injury.

"We don't know exactly what he has done," Flick said. "He said he thought he twisted his knee a bit, but we have to wait for the diagnosis. He is having a scan."

Erling Haaland was only substituted as a precaution in Borussia Dortmund's 4-2 Klassiker defeat to Bayern Munich, interim coach Edin Terzic said.

Superstar striker Haaland looked to have set BVB on course to a fine victory when he netted twice in the opening nine minutes at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

Those efforts took his tally against Bayern this season to four goals across all competitions, the most in matches with the Bavarian giants over the course of a single campaign since Cristiano Ronaldo netted five in 2016-17.

But by the time Haaland made way after 60 minutes, nursing a cut to his ankle, Bayern were back level.

Robert Lewandowski scored twice before the break and then, following Haaland's departure, a crucial, controversial Leon Goretzka volley preceded the home forward's hat-trick goal.

Images of Haaland wincing in pain on the bench were unlikely to lift the mood among Dortmund supporters, already unable to watch Jadon Sancho following a muscle injury in midweek.

Yet Terzic said Haaland, now with 19 league goals to his name at a rate of one every 84 minutes this term, was merely being protected.

BVB host Sevilla in the Champions League on Tuesday, aiming to protect a 3-2 first-leg advantage, with Haaland set to start for the 28th time this season.

"He played a very good game," Terzic said. "He got a little kick, but that wasn't the problem.

"He's been playing every game for weeks; we've got to protect him a little bit. We expect him to be able to play against Sevilla."

Haaland's double took him to 32 Bundesliga goals across 34 matches this season and last.

Uwe Seeler is the only player in the history of the competition to score more often in his first 34 appearances (33).

Marco Reus believes Borussia Dortmund were denied "a very clear foul" that would have been given had it been for Bayern Munich just before their rivals scored the pivotal third goal in a thrilling Klassiker.

Dortmund surrendered a two-goal lead given to them by an early Erling Haaland double as they went down to a dramatic 4-2 away defeat to Bayern on Saturday.

It looked like they would still hold on for a point until Leon Goretzka scored a volley two minutes from time, before Robert Lewandowski struck again for Bayern to seal his hat-trick.

Dortmund captain Reus had been substituted by the time Goretzka struck, but he was adamant the crucial goal should not have stood after Emre Can claimed to have been fouled by Leroy Sane in the build-up.

"It's a very clear foul," Reus said to Sky Germany.

"I tell you quite honestly that if that had been for Bayern, it would have been whistled. 

"That's just the way it is. There is nothing to add. That's the way it is."

Responding to Reus' comments, Bayern attacker Thomas Muller insisted it was not the type of incident he would have liked to see whistled for either team.

"When you lose a game, it's clear that you focus on an incident like that," said Muller. "But you'll have analysed that. 

"We don't want these duels to be whistled at the halfway line, otherwise we only have stop-start games. 

"So I wouldn't have whistled that as a foul against us. I really, very much like the way Marco Fritz refereed today."

Despite the controversy about the key goal, Bayern had dominated much of the contest, racking up 27 attempts to just four from Dortmund while having 66 per cent of the possession.

The win moved Bayern two points clear of RB Leipzig atop the Bundesliga and left Dortmund sitting sixth, four points adrift of the top four.

Robert Lewandowski outscored Erling Haaland with a Klassiker hat-trick as Bayern Munich recovered from two goals down to again beat Borussia Dortmund in a 4-2 victory.

Bayern reclaimed top spot in the Bundesliga hours after being knocked off the summit by RB Leipzig, despite an awful start to another epic encounter on Saturday.

The champions were two behind inside nine minutes following Haaland's brace, but Lewandowski had them level by half-time and Dortmund, already missing Jadon Sancho, saw their two-goal talisman hobble off with half an hour to play.

BVB still looked set to hold on and end a run of four league defeats to Bayern, only for Leon Goretzka to break their resolve before Lewandowski's treble-clincher capped another outstanding outing.

Will Kalidou Koulibaly leave Serie A's Napoli?

Koulibaly is one of Europe's finest defenders and the 29-year-old has attracted interest from across Europe.

Bayern Munich are reportedly eyeing the Senegal international.

 

TOP STORY – BAYERN FRONTRUNNERS FOR NAPOLI STAR

Bayern Munich are leading the race to sign Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, according to Il Mattino.

Koulibaly has long been linked with a move away from Napoli, though the club's valuation has deterred suitors.

But Koulibaly's asking price has reportedly dropped to €45million (£39m), alerting Bayern, as well as Manchester United and Liverpool.

Bild, however, claims Bundesliga champions Bayern have not made an offer for the Napoli star.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bild reports Manchester City are favourites to sign Erling Haaland if Borussia Dortmund sanction an off-season exit. Haaland has been linked with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Liverpool, ChelseaUnited and Bayern.

- As City target Haaland, Sport Mediaset says Serie A champions Juve are considering a move for veteran forward Sergio Aguero. The Argentina international is out of contract at season's end.

Barca have been offered Bayer Leverkusen star Edmond Tapsoba, claims Sport. Tapsoba is valued at around €40m.

- Wolves are open to selling Adama Traore at a reduced price, according to the Daily Mail. Barca, Liverpool and City have been linked with Traore previously.

- The Sun reports United are considering the sale of star goalkeeper David de Gea. It comes as Dean Henderson expects to become number one next season. The Transfer Window podcast, meanwhile, says United are seeking a new number one amid links to Milan star Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Chelsea remain interested in RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate, according to Bild. Konate is not short of admirers, linked to the likes of United and Arsenal.

United have not contacted Eintracht Frankfurt's Andre Silva as an alternative to Haaland, claims Bild.

Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick made no secret of his admiration for Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland ahead of Der Klassiker, backing the Norway international to dominate the future of the sport.

Haaland has enjoyed a rapid rise since establishing himself as first choice at Salzburg for the start of the 2019-20 season, his remarkable haul of 28 goals in just 20 matches for the Austrians propelling him to top of many big clubs' transfer shortlists.

But, while the likes of Manchester United were keen on Haaland, Dortmund persuaded him to make the move to Signal Iduna Park, where he has been an overwhelming success.

In 45 matches across all competitions, Haaland has 43 goals, while he outperformed his xG (expected goals) by 4.2 in the second half of 2019-20 after joining Dortmund, meaning not only is he scoring frequently but he is also finishing more difficult opportunities – by comparison, Robert Lewandowski has not boasted such a strong xG differential since 2016-17 (7.8).

In three previous games against Bayern – two in the Bundesliga and one in the DFL-Supercup – Haaland has two goals, but he is yet to end up on the winning side against them with BVB.

Nevertheless, Flick is well aware of the threat posed by the Molde youth product, with Bayern facing the prospect of potentially being replaced at the Bundesliga summit by RB Leipzig if Dortmund leave the Allianz Arena with all three points on Saturday.

"Haaland is what a centre-forward has to be," Flick said.

"He has an enormous hunger for goals. The future could belong to him because he has everything he needs for it.

"He's fast, has a strong finish and the right mentality. When you see the intensity with which he puts on a sprint over 80 metres – it's great. He's someone you always have to watch out for.

"It's very important to close the spaces for him. We have to cut off those passes to him."

 

Flick was also asked about the situation of backup goalkeeper Alexander Nubel, who arrived on a free transfer from Schalke last year having established himself as one of the world's most-promising young goalkeepers.

It was always seen as a potentially risky move for Nubel given the presence of Manuel Neuer, who has gone on to put his injury nightmares behind him and once again cement himself as Bayern's number one.

Nubel's agent recently underlined his client's frustration with the situation and suggested he would look to secure a loan move away from Bayern if things did not change, and Flick showed little sympathy in his response.

"Those are things that we talk about internally – we will have an exchange," Flick said. "But we have no business talking about that here.

"His point of view is his right. Alex knew what he was getting into when he came to Bayern Munich. My job as coach is to pick the players who are currently the best team. He played two games and now he's injured.

"The clear number one is Manuel Neuer."

Jamal Musiala has signed his first professional contract with Bayern Munich.

The rising Germany star has pledged his future to the Bundesliga champions until 2026, just a week after turning 18.

Musiala has made swift progress since joining from Chelsea two years ago and has made 26 appearances in all competitions this season for Hansi Flick's side.

At 17 years and 363 days old, he became Bayern's youngest Champions League goalscorer when he netted in the 4-1 last-16 first-leg win over Lazio.

"I'm really pleased to have signed my first professional contract at FC Bayern," Musiala said via the club's website. "I just feel very good at the club and in the team, I'm playing with the best players in the world and I can learn from them every day in training.

"Hansi Flick, [sporting director] Hasan Salihamidzic and [chief scout] Marco Neppe, along with the whole club, have believed in me and given me the chance very early on.

"I just want to repay that faith with good performances, keep getting better and win a lot more titles with FC Bayern. My aim is to become an important player for this club."

Salihamidzic said: "We're very happy that Jamal has decided to sign his first professional contract at FC Bayern on a long-term basis. This has been a joint effort.

"Before Jamal came to FC Bayern in summer 2019, we had to and were able to convince him and his family about our project. I am very pleased that our system of finding talented players, developing them and then integrating them into the first team is bearing fruit.

"Our chief scout Marco Neppe has played a significant role here. Now we must all ensure that Jamal continues to be nurtured and challenged. I am sure that he will bring a lot of joy to FC Bayern."

Musiala, who last month declared he will play for Germany at senior international level, has been tipped for a call-up to Joachim Low's squad for the coming international break.

Gianluigi Donnarumma is attracting interest from across Europe.

Donnarumma's Milan contract expires at season's end and the star goalkeeper is yet to commit.

Premier League giants Chelsea are reportedly ready to prise the Italy international to London.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA LAUNCH DONNARUMMA BID

Chelsea are ready to make a move for Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, according to Libero Quotidiano.

Donnarumma's contract expires at the end of the season and Premier League giants Chelsea are set to submit an offer worth £9million (€10.5m) per season, despite already boasting the world's most expensive goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and Edouard Mendy.

The Italy international has also been linked with the likes of Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sky reports teenage sensation Jamal Musiala has signed a long-term contract extension with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. The new deal is reportedly worth €5m per year and will tie him to Bayern until 2026.

Manchester City have joined the race for Atalanta star Robin Gosens, according to Virgilio. Gosens has had interest from Serie A rivals Inter and Juventus but Atalanta are understood to want €40m (£34m) for his services.

- The Daily Mail says Leicester City are planning for Jamie Vardy's long-term replacement by targeting a £15m move for Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard.

- Santiago Arias is being circled by EvertonRoma and PSG this off-season, according to Kicker. Arias is currently on loan at Bayer Leverkusen from Atletico Madrid.

- InterLive claims Inter are keen on Juve goalkeeper Mattia Perin, who is currently on loan at Genoa, and may use Matias Vecino in exchange. The Nerazzurri are looking for goalkeeper cover for Samir Handanovic.

When Borussia Dortmund parted with a reported €20million to sign Erling Haaland from Salzburg a little over a year ago, they'll have been acutely aware of the coup they'd just struck – but whether they expected him to be quite this good is another matter entirely.

Those explosive first few months of the 2019-20 season at Salzburg left most of Europe's biggest clubs clamouring for the Norwegian, but Bayern were seemingly not among them. At least, not in the final straight.

While you can't necessarily have too many great players, few at the time or since have decried Bayern's lack of interest in the striking sensation, and that purely comes down to the presence of Robert Lewandowski.

Eleven months on from Haaland's Dortmund debut, Lewandowski won the FIFA Best Men's Player award having scored 60 goals across the qualifying period and led Bayern to a treble.

But the fact Haaland - named the Golden Boy soon after - was seen as unfortunate not to be nominated for the major gong ultimately won by Lewandowski is testament to the former Molde youngster's frightening potential.

Saturday's Der Klassiker is unlikely to have much bearing on Dortmund's Bundesliga title hopes given they'll still be 10 points behind Bayern even if they win, but the game does provide the opportunity to see the two sharp-shooters pitted against each other, like gunslingers in an old Western movie.

Haaland, along with Kylian Mbappe, is being outlined as the world's next great number nine, but is he already ahead of even Lewandowski?

LEWY'S LONG ROAD

It's easy to forget Lewandowski's backstory and route to the top, simply because he has been one of Europe's most-feared strikers for so long.

But Lewandowski's tale is one of rejection, perseverance and mastery – to say he always looked destined to reach the level he has would be revisionist. After all, the early years of his career in Poland were impacted by the death of his father, being cast aside by Legia Warsaw, a serious injury and failed transfers.

Sporting Gijon turned him down and the 2010 eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull resulted in the collapse of a move from Lech Poznan to Blackburn Rovers.

 

He joined Dortmund in June of that year, a couple of months before his 22nd birthday – by comparison, Haaland was still six months from turning 20 when he signed for BVB.

On top of that, Haaland's early impact on the Bundesliga has been far superior to that of Lewandowski, whose first season yielded only nine goals in 42 games across all competitions. The Norwegian managed 24 in 27 matches.

Looking at that alone, it's easy to make the assumption that Haaland is destined for even greater things than Lewandowski, but it's worth pointing out the Pole was played out of position a lot in his first campaign.

"I was annoyed having to play as a number 10 instead of playing up front as the number nine," Lewandowski told the Daily Mail in 2016. "I played the whole season as number 10. The following season I thought about why I was in that position, then I realised my game had improved. I learned a lot and, when I played up top again, I realised playing as a number 10 had made me a better player."

The data backs him up as well. Not only did his overall productivity in front of goal improve from nine goals to 30, he was proving more consistent generally in those decisive moments, his conversion rate increasing from 8.5 per cent to 19.5.

DIFFERENT BEASTS

When looking at – or comparing – any player in relation to Lewandowski, you have to consider the two different versions of him; pre-26 and post-26.

It was around this age that Lewandowski began to harness the fitness and nutrition expertise of his wife Anna, and it's quite easy to spot when that appeared to start paying dividends, as his goals haul rocketed from 25 to 42 in 2015-16.

He has not gone below 40 in any full season since then and already has 34 to his name in 2020-21 (32 appearances) – he is also just four behind Klaus Fischer (268), the second most-prolific player in Bundesliga history.

Haaland's long-term future isn't at Dortmund and, by extension, doesn't appear to be in the Bundesliga, so matching Lewandowski's record in Germany's top-flight looks unlikely.

But what's clear is he has found this 'world-class' level much earlier than Lewandowski – Haaland has more goals (55) across all competitions than any other current under-21 player in Europe's top five leagues despite playing just 57 games. Jadon Sancho is his closest rival with 46 in 130 appearances.

 

Haaland's first Bundesliga season with Dortmund saw him score 13 times, outperforming his expected goals (xG) by 4.2 – that's a greater differential than Lewandowski has recorded since 2016-17 (7.8), though the youngster's figure here has dropped to 2.5 in 2020-21.

While that is 0.7 less than Lewandowski's 3.2 xG differential, either way he's scoring a lot of goals and more than he would ordinarily be expected to over a long period of time, which speaks for his clinical nature.

Further to that, Haaland – who earlier this term became the youngest player to net four in one Bundesliga game (20 years, 123 days) – boasts a stunning conversion rate at Dortmund. Last season's 41.4 per cent (all competitions) is better than Lewandowski has ever managed, though it was of course limited to half a season.

In 2020-21 he hasn't quite found the same standard, yet his 29.7 conversion rate in all competitions is still better than any other Bundesliga player with 10 goals or more. By comparison, Lewandowski's 28.3 per cent will be a career-high for a single season if he maintains it.

BRILLIANCE IN LONGEVITY

At the very least, Haaland is already a contemporary of Lewandowski's – his effectiveness in front of goal is utterly devastating and, as demonstrated, seemingly a level above that of the Bayern talisman during his early Bundesliga days.

But the challenge for Haaland is to maintain that level and keep kicking on, as Lewandowski clearly did around the age of 26 when analysing what he could do better, taking himself from an excellent number nine to arguably the best of his generation.

Haaland is building from a higher platform than Lewandowski ever was, therefore one has to suspect he has the potential to surpass his exploits.

Maybe he could be this generation's standard-bearer. If he has half the amount of perseverance as Lewandowski, that'd be a good start.

As for whether he's already better than Lewandowski – well, part of the Bayern man's brilliance is his longevity and consistency, how he seems to be getting better with age. But for Haaland to be rivalling the world's best before he's even 21 is an achievement in itself.

Jadon Sancho can be compared to Robert Lewandowski and Lionel Messi with his performances for Borussia Dortmund, according to former Germany international goalkeeper Jens Lehmann.

After a slow start to the campaign amid talk of a move to Manchester United falling through, Sancho's form has picked up of late and he is on course to hit double figures for goals and assists for the third Bundesliga season running.

The England international last week registered his 50th assist in the German top flight, becoming the youngest ever player to do so in what was his 99th appearance in the competition.

Sancho has now been directly involved in 12 Bundesliga goals in 2021 - six goals and six assists - which is behind only Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski (11 goals and two assists).

In Europe's top five leagues, Barcelona forward Messi (15) is the only other player to have been directly involved in more goals this calendar year than Sancho, who is level with Atalanta's Luis Muriel.

Lehmann has been impressed by the 20-year-old's form and has backed the youngster, as well as compatriot and BVB team-mate Jude Bellingham, to remain in the Bundesliga, despite ongoing talk of a possible move to the Premier League.

"He's done very well," Lehmann told the Daily Star. "Right now his stats can be compared to Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski, and I think the third best in the whole of Europe. It's fantastic for English football."

Asked about the future of Sancho and Bellingham, Lehmann said: "Right now, I think they're staying. Most of the big clubs have full squads anyway.

"You'd have to be really, really outstanding if a bigger club tries to get you. But if you can imagine a club like Chelsea, Manchester United or Manchester City, there is already 30 or 35 players plus the players on loan.

"It's not that easy to make a decision for guys like Bellingham and Sancho at this early stage in their careers. Would they add something? We're not sure, but first of all they need to decrease their own squad size."

Sancho, who scored the winning goal for Dortmund in their DFB-Pokal win at Borussia Monchengladbach on Tuesday, is a major doubt for this weekend's Der Klassiker showdown with Bayern due to a leg injury.

Bayern Munich would have the financial strength to sign Erling Haaland, club president Herbert Hainer says. 

Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland is likely to be one of the most in-demand players over the coming transfer windows as he continues to thrive at Signal Iduna Park. 

Haaland has scored 27 goals and provided seven assists in 27 games in all competitions this season. Among Bundesliga players, only Robert Lewandowski (42) has more direct goal involvements. 

Real Madrid, Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Barcelona have all been linked with the 20-year-old, while former Germany star Lothar Matthaus suggested Haaland's next logical step would be to join Bayern if he chooses to stay in Germany. 

A release clause of €75million will reportedly come into effect next year, and Hainer believes Bayern will be in a position to compete with others for Haaland's signature despite the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Insisting Bayern will "go even more down our successful path of signing young players with outstanding skills", having already agreed a deal to bring in Dayot Upamecano from RB Leipzig this year, Hainer told Sport1: "We are an economically very strong and healthy club. 

"Although we're also suffering massively from the pandemic, we can always bring in players when we're convinced about them." 

Hainer also confirmed plans to discuss new contracts with midfielder Leon Goretzka and defender Niklas Sule, whose deals expire in 2022. 

Goretzka has regained form recently after recovering from a coronavirus infection, while Sule, who had been linked with Chelsea, has enjoyed a positive run as a makeshift right-back. 

"Leon Goretzka has developed hugely in the last 12 months," said Hainer. "He's become one of the most important players for us. Yes, we want to extend with him." 

He added of Sule: "He's an important player for us. We'll sit down with him in the spring."

Jadon Sancho and Raphael Guerreiro will be assessed before a decision is made on whether they can play any part in Borussia Dortmund's Bundesliga showdown with rivals Bayern Munich.

England international Sancho hobbled off the pitch two minutes after scoring what proved to be the winning goal in Tuesday's 1-0 DFB-Pokal quarter-final win against Borussia Monchengladbach.

He watched the final 22 minutes from the bench with an ice pack on his upper leg, with interim head coach Edin Terzic confirming after the match the 20-year-old had sustained a muscular issue.

Guerreiro, used 29 times in all competitions this season, limped off in the opening five minutes of the cup tie and both players are now doubtful for Saturday's Klassiker at the Allianz Arena.

"Jadon and Raphael were examined immediately after the Gladbach game and we have to carry out further examinations," Terzic said at a pre-match news conference on Thursday.

"It could be tight for both of them, but we're not giving up hope that they will fly to Munich with us tomorrow."

Being without Sancho would be a major blow for Dortmund, who are looking to avoid losing a fifth league game in a row against Bayern for the first time since between 1968 and 1970.

After a largely underwhelming first half to the campaign, the attacking midfielder has been directly involved in 12 Bundesliga goals in 2021, finding the net six times and setting up six more.

Only Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski has scored and assisted more this calendar year (13 in total – 11 goals, two assists), with Eintracht Frankfurt duo Filip Kostic and Andre Silva next on the list with 10 goal involvements apiece.

Lewandowski has 28 Bundesliga goals to his name in total this campaign - just 12 short of Gerd Muller's long-standing record in a single season - for a Bayern side on a 36-game run since last failing to score in the league.

No team in Europe's top five leagues has found the net more times than Bayern (67) in 2020-21 and Terzic, who will be replaced by Marco Rose at the end of the campaign, acknowledged his side will have to be alert at the back this weekend.

"It is clear that the toolbox of the opposition is very large," he said. "We will try to support each other and block the flanks and cover the posts. 

"They score a lot of goals. It would be best if we don't let them get into the final third of the field.

"There will be phases where we have to suffer. That counts when you play in Munich, but it does not rule out being brave yourself and being dangerous. Small things will make the difference in such close matches."

Pep Guardiola insists Bayern Munich and Liverpool still set the standard for his Manchester City side despite their dominant form.

City hold a 12-point lead at the top of the Premier League ahead of Tuesday's home game against Wolves, where they will chase a 21st consecutive win in all competitions.

That would bring them closer to the 'top five' European leagues record of 23 that Bayern Munich established on their way to a treble last season.

Guardiola's men beat Liverpool 4-1 as part of their ongoing run, with Jurgen Klopp's injury-hit side having stumbled out of the title race this time around.

After Saturday's 2-1 win against West Ham, Hammers boss David Moyes hailed City as Europe's best but Guardiola insists his team's form will count for nothing unless they manage to lift major prizes at the end of the campaign.

"The best team in Europe and the world is Bayern Munich because they won everything. They are the best," he said.

"In England the champions are Liverpool, they are the best. The crown, if you want to take it you have to win.

"In March, nobody is champion. You have to do well and try and win it, but we cannot deny the last two-and-a-half months were exceptional.

"When we played well, we won comfortably but when we didn’t play so well, we were able to take the points.

"In 20 games in a row winning, you will not be exceptional all the time. It's important in those games to be solid and take the points."

Guardiola would not be surprised if City's next game falls into the latter category.

Since Wolves' promotion to the Premier League for the 2018-19 season, City have won twice, lost twice and drawn once against Nuno Espirito Santo's side.

"The history against them dictates, shows us how tough it is," Guardiola said. "We know it perfectly, exactly the type of game we have to play to be so intense but at the same time calm.

"They play with your ambition and patience to punish you. You have to be so clever the way you have to play.

"In the last years it was so tough because of the quality and the structure they have and this year will be no exception."

Sergio Aguero played an hour against West Ham as he stepped up his moves towards match fitness and Guardiola reported City's all-time record goalscorer suffered no ill-effects.

Defender Nathan Ake (hamstring) remains his only senior absentee.

Germany head coach Joachim Low is considering a dramatic U-turn that would see Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels invited back to the national team.

With the delayed Euro 2020 finals coming up in June, Low wants Germany to be as strong as possible, and a 6-0 thrashing by Spain in November was a result that pointed to a need for a change in direction.

Low's own future has come in for scrutiny, and there have even been suggestions Bayern Munich's treble-winning boss Hansi Flick could replace him.

The 2014 World Cup-winning coach declared in March 2019 that it was time for Germany to move on from the old guard, stating that Muller, Hummels and Jerome Boateng – all world champions themselves – would no longer be part of his plans.

It was a decision that Muller at the time said left him "dumbfounded", and Bayern were also critical, with all three players belonging to the Bavarian giants at that time.

Hummels has since moved on to Borussia Dortmund where the 32-year-old defender remains one of German football's star performers. Only Arminia Bielefeld's towering striker Fabian Klos (146) has won more balls in the air this season than Hummels (118) and just two players have made more blocks than his 22, taking all competitions into account.

Bayern midfielder Muller is one of only two players from the Bundesliga to reach doubles figures for goals and assists in all competitions this term, posting 13 and 12 respectively, with Dortmund's Jadon Sancho the other.

"Special circumstances can justify an interruption in the upheaval," Low said in an interview with Kicker magazine.

On the specific matter of Hummels, Boateng and Muller, Low said: "That will be a difficult and important question, also for me

"The character of Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels is that they do not oppress others."

Hansi Flick hailed Leon Goretzka's "excellent" three-assist display against Cologne but admitted he was not entirely pleased with Bayern Munich's overall performance in Saturday's 5-1 win.

Bayern put an end to their two-game winless streak in the Bundesliga with a routine victory against their relegation-battling opponents at Allianz Arena to retain a two-point lead on RB Leipzig at the summit.

Goretzka set up goals for Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry, making it four assists in his last two outings after also teeing up Jamal Musiala's goal in the 4-1 Champions League win at Lazio in midweek. 

The Germany international was singled out for praise by Flick after the win against Cologne, but the Bayern boss acknowledged there is still room for improvement from his side after conceding for the fourth game in a row thanks to Ellyes Skhiri's strike.

"Leon did an excellent job in assisting the goals. That's why he was Man of the Match for me today," Flick said. "We will analyse the game and show it to the team. There were one or two things I didn't like. 

"But we'll go from game to game. That approach worked well last year. What comes out in the end is up to us. If we put in the performances and pick up wins, we can finish top of the league."

Gnabry marked his return from a thigh injury lay-off by scoring twice from his 14 touches of the ball as a second-half substitute, adding to Lewandowski's brace and Choupo-Moting's opener.

Thomas Muller also appeared for the first time since being struck down by coronavirus at the Club World Cup earlier this month and Flick is delighted to have both players fit and available.

"Serge and Thomas were very important to us as substitutes today," he said. "Thomas assisted Lewy [Lewandowski] with his first touch of the game and brought some certainty to our game, which we needed at that point. 

"Serge has scored two goals. Both will be valuable for us in the next games and I'm happy they're back. It's important to be satisfied with the 5-1 scoreline. We deserved the victory even by that margin."

Bayern let Cologne into the game early in the second half before pulling clear with three goals in the final 25 minutes in what was the 100th competitive meeting between the sides.

With his double on Saturday, Gnabry has now scored nine Bundesliga goals against Cologne - more than against any other side in his career - but the attacker agreed with Flick's assessment that Bayern are not quite at 100 per cent.

"When Thomas and I came on, it was a bit tricky for us," he said. "We hadn't been very sharp or dominant. We tried to lift the tempo and immediately made it 3-1. Then it became easier. 

"In the future, we have to make sure we don't have these shaky phases in the game and we come out of the blocks quicker. Of course, opponents will always have a chance, but we have to reduce these spells, then we'll be stronger again."

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