Sergio Ramos suffered an injury during the first half of the Nations League match between Spain and Germany in Seville. 

The Real Madrid captain hurt his hamstring after playing a long pass forward and was replaced by Eric Garcia 43 minutes in. 

Spain had already seen Sergio Canales go off with a similar complaint just 12 minutes into the contest. 

Despite the injury issues, Luis Enrique's side led 3-0 at half-time in the decisive Group A4 match through goals from Alvaro Morata, Ferran Torres and Rodri. 

Any injury to Ramos would be a major concern for Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane ahead of a challenging run of fixtures

The champions return to LaLiga action at Villarreal on Saturday before they head to Inter for matchday four of the Champions League group stage. 

Madrid then face a further four games, including clashes with Shakhtar Donetsk, Sevilla and Borussia Monchengladbach, before the scheduled derby with Atletico Madrid on December 13. 

Ramos missed the reverse fixture against Shakhtar on October 21, a match Madrid lost 3-2 after falling 3-0 down in the first half at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.

There was further bad news for Zidane in Paris too, as another of his centre-back options in Raphael Varane was withdrawn at half-time during France's meeting with Sweden.

Les Bleus boss Didier Deschamps told M6: "[Lucas] Hernandez and Varane have come off because they have small problems."

Spain's goalscoring issues were again laid bare in their 1-1 draw with Switzerland last week – a game that saw them dominate in terms of possession and chances without managing to claim the win.

Luis Enrique's side needed a late goal from substitute Gerard Moreno to rescue them a point, having earlier seen captain Sergio Ramos miss twice from the penalty spot on his record-breaking 177th international appearance.

That profligate display was far from a one-off, though, Spain having now scored just three times in their past five matches overall.

In the Nations League, meanwhile, they have seven goals in five Group A4 outings – a tally bolstered by a 4-0 win over Ukraine in September.

So, why are Spain struggling so badly in front of goal, and is Luis Enrique doing anything to rectify the problem?


A GAME OF CHANCE

Twelve teams have scored more goals in this year's Nations League than Spain, yet no team has created more chances than their 74, Portugal being the next highest with 72.

Quite clearly, then, the problem is not just a matter of creativity, but more to do with an inability to convert opportunities.

Take the Switzerland match on Saturday, for instance. Spain created 16 chances – not including Ramos' two spot-kicks – but put away just one of them.

Gerard's shot was one of 20 La Roja attempted at St. Jakob-Park, seven of which were on target, and arrived nine minutes after he was brought off the bench.

The Villarreal man got in front of his marker and converted Sergio Reguilon's left-sided cross on the edge of the six-yard box – a classic forward's finish, you could say.

Interestingly, Reguilon is Spain's top chance creator (nine), with the likes of Ferran Torres (eight), Ansu Fati (seven), Jesus Navas and Dani Olmo (both six) also contributing.

Spreading the chances throughout the side is one thing but Spain could perhaps do with a key creator in the mould of Bruno Fernandes.

He has laid on 17 chances for team-mates in five Nations League games, while Portugal team-mates Raphael Guerreiro and Bernardo Silva (both 11) are also into double figures.


STRIKER-LESS SYSTEM

Three of Spain's seven goals in the Nations League have been scored by defenders, one of those being a Ramos penalty.

The other four have been spread out between Gerard, Fati, Mikel Oyarzabal and Ferran, none of whom can be classed as pure strikers.

That is perhaps reflected in the conversion stats, with worst culprit Ferran scoring from one of his 10 shots, Fati from one of eight and Oyarzabal one of five.

To put that into some context, prolific Norway striker Erling Haaland has netted from six of his 14 efforts – a conversion rate of nearly 43 per cent – albeit against lesser opposition.

Perhaps a better example would be Timo Werner, striker for Group A4 opponents Germany, who has four goals from 14 shots against an identical level of opponent.


LUIS ENRIQUE – A MAN WITH A PLAN?

Luis Enrique's options may be limited in terms of out-and-out strikers, but he has inevitably been repeatedly asked about his commitment to using a false nine-style system.

"It is easy to say after the game that Alvaro Morata had to play, or Gerard should have played," he said after the Switzerland draw.

"But we felt that a number nine was not going to be necessary in the first half. We lacked when it came to the most difficult thing: scoring."

The cries for Morata to start through the middle may well grow louder should Spain once again fail to fire in Tuesday's decisive Nations League clash with Germany.

The Juventus striker laid on a lovely assist for Sergio Canales in last week's 1-1 friendly draw with the Netherlands, making it nine goal involvements in 10 outings this term.

Luis Enrique has insisted throughout all this that he should not be judged until after next year's rearranged Euro 2020 finals.

Having become the first Spain boss this century to go three games without a win, though, and with his side facing the prospect of once again missing out on the Nations League finals, a rethink may well be required while there is still time.

Sergio Ramos has no plans to step away from penalty duties for Spain despite missing two spot-kicks against Switzerland.

Ramos made his 177th international appearance, surpassing Italy great Gianluigi Buffon for the most by a European man, but marked the milestone with two penalty misses in a 1-1 Nations League draw on Saturday.

The defender had scored a remarkable 25 straight penalties for Spain and Real Madrid before his two misses.

Ramos, who skipped a news conference on Monday amid links to Paris Saint-Germain, said he would continue taking penalties.

"If there was another penalty of course that I would take, of course," he told Spain's media channels.

"If I didn't approach it that way, I would stop being me."

Spain host Germany in Seville on Tuesday, needing a win to finish top of Group A4 and reach the Nations League Finals.

Ramos, 34, said he was proud of his appearance record, and he dismissed any talk of retiring from internationals.

"It is a pride to surpass a legend like Buffon in caps. In the end, when you start you don't think you can get that high," he said.

"I have spent many hours running around here through the streets of Seville and there is a lot of effort behind it, perseverance and perseverance.

"In the end it is that. As long as I feel like it, I will continue. My head is in charge, and for now, it allows me."

Spain have confirmed Sergio Busquets has sustained a mild sprain in his left knee that will keep him out of Tuesday's Nations League clash with Germany.

The Barcelona midfielder was injured during Spain's 1-1 draw with Switzerland last week and was unable to take part in training on Sunday.

After undergoing an MRI scan on Monday, the extent of the damage was revealed by Spain on their official Twitter account.

Busquets is definitely out of the home match against Germany, which La Roja need to win to top Group A4, and is considered a major doubt for Barca's LaLiga showdown with Atletico Madrid next Saturday.

The 32-year-old has started all seven of Barca's league games this term and has appeared in all three Champions League matches.

His 321 passes in the opposition half in LaLiga this term is bettered only by Frenkie de Jong (325), Sergio Canales (332) and team-mate Lionel Messi (332).

However, Busquets' figures in other areas have dropped since last season, leading to calls for Miralem Pjanic to be given the nod in Ronald Koeman's starting line-up.

Busquets' passes-per-game figures are down from 93 per game last term to 80 this time around, while his number of dribbles (0.83 to 0.48) and touches (106 to 91) have also fallen.

Barca face Atletico and Osasuna in their next two LaLiga games, either side of a trip to Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League.

Timo Werner was delighted to mark his return to Leipzig with a brace in Germany's 3-1 win over Ukraine on Saturday.

After Leroy Sane cancelled out Roman Yaremchuk's opener at Red Bull Arena Leipzig, Werner scored a double as Germany went top of Nations League Group A4.

Werner, RB Leipzig's all-time leading goalscorer, left the Bundesliga club for Chelsea in June, but starred back at his previous home.

The forward was pleased with his brace and said Germany were only getting better.

"My first goal was really simple because the assist from Leon [Goretzka] was very, very good," Werner told DFB.de.

"To score two goals here in Leipzig, where I had four great years, is a great feeling. I always enjoy returning to Leipzig. It's a shame that we couldn't have any fans in here.

"Overall, it was a good performance. Our form is picking up and going forward things are looking pretty good. We're also getting more solid at the back.

"We are working hard so that we can have a good Euros next year."

Goretzka also set up Sane's equaliser and his five total shots were the most of any player on the pitch.

Ilkay Gundogan, meanwhile, completed 97 of 104 passes and had 67 in the opposition half, which was 26 more than the next best – defender Niklas Sule.

Germany coach Joachim Low was satisfied with his side's performance.

"That wasn't an easy game for us. Everyone saw that Ukraine can play," he said.

"In the first half, we set a high tempo and had the game under control, in the second we weren't quite so determined and lost the ball a few times. Overall, I think we can be satisfied.

"We had to replace a few players, but we were still able to find our rhythm. We brought tempo and a threat to the game with our three quick forwards, who kept our opponents busy all game.

"In defence, we tried to break down Ukraine's passing channels early, which is why we tested Robin Koch in the middle. He did a good job. Toni Kroos will return to the team on Tuesday against Spain."

Germany are a point clear of Spain ahead of their meeting – their final group games – in Seville.

Germany put themselves in pole position in Nations League Group A4 heading into a crunch clash with Spain as Joachim Low's side came from behind to beat Ukraine 3-1. 

Timo Werner scored either side of half-time following Leroy Sane's equaliser as Leon Goretzka turned in a dominant midfield display in Leipzig. 

It was far from plain sailing for Germany on Saturday, however, with Andriy Shevchenko's depleted Ukraine side – who hit the post three times – taking a 12th-minute lead. 

Goretzka set up two goals in the space of 10 minutes to give Germany the advantage by the interval and while defensive solidity evaded the hosts, Werner's second wrapped up the points.

One of four players to keep his place in Germany's starting XI, Philipp Max created two chances inside the opening five minutes, with Goretzka and Robin Koch failing to hit the target. 

Yet Max was partly at fault as, against the run of play, Ukraine took the lead – the PSV defender's weak challenge enabling Oleksandr Zubkov to squeeze the ball back for Roman Yaremchuk to lash home. 

Ukraine's lead lasted just 11 minutes, Goretzka robbing Oleksandr Zinchenko of possession before setting up Bayern Munich team-mate Sane, who arrowed a left-footed strike across Andriy Pyatov. 

Goretzka had his second assist in the 33rd minute, crossing for Werner to head in from close range after getting on the end of Koch's delightful pass. 

Ukraine were inches away from equalising early in the second half, as Zinchenko's deflected effort hit the upright. 

Sane then sent a tame finish straight at Pyatov, but – after having a hopeful penalty appeal for handball dismissed – Germany had their third in the 64th minute. 

Ilkay Gundogan fed Matthias Ginter, whose cross was swept home by Werner via a deflection. Marlos and Moraes did strike the woodwork at the other end, but the visitors failed to muster a comeback.

It was perhaps inevitable that Florian Neuhaus' encouraging early performances in a Germany shirt would prompt speculation of interest from Bayern Munich.

European champions Bayern have a reputation for plucking the Bundesliga's best talents, much to the frustration of their rivals.

After watching Neuhaus sparkle with an all-action display in a 1-0 friendly win over Czech Republic on Wednesday, Borussia Monchengladbach sporting director Max Eberl was dismayed by talk of the 23-year-old being a potential target for Bayern.

"I sometimes ask myself: What do we want?" Eberl told SPORT1. "On the one hand, we all want a competition in which other clubs can become champions.

"But on the other hand, these players then become again linked to this club [Bayern].

"Why not just say: 'Hey, cool! Something is developing at Gladbach'. Why shouldn't a Florian Neuhaus stay with us?

"The reflex is now always: good game, good development, where is he going? It always goes way too fast for me."

The Gladbach midfielder, who debuted for Germany last month, had five shots against the Czechs - more than any other player - and won 83.3 per cent of his duels, while his 103 touches trailed only team-mate Jonathan Tah.

And unfortunately for Gladbach, Bayern could certainly benefit from recruiting a player of Neuhaus' talents.

Although he likes a shot - as evidenced in Leipzig - Neuhaus is not necessarily a reliable goal threat, having failed to net in the Bundesliga this season and hit the target only once from seven attempts.

Neuhaus has scored just four times in the league since the start of the 2019-20 season, with Bayern duo Leon Goretzka (seven) and Joshua Kimmich (five) besting that tally.

But where he stands out from Hansi Flick's existing midfield options is with dribbling skills not seen in Bavaria since Thiago Alcantara's move to Liverpool.

Thiago attempted 85 dribbles last term, completing 71, yet Bayern's next most prolific dribbler in the middle of the pitch is Kimmich, who has pulled off just 22 of 38 attempts since the 2019-20 campaign began.

Neuhaus, since the start of last season, has successfully executed 53 of his 78 dribbles, effectively getting out of tight spaces and moving Gladbach up the pitch.

He is understandably not as well rounded in possession as Thiago, failing to match up to the Spaniard's remarkable passing statistics that saw him complete 90.5 per cent of attempts, 87.3 per cent in the opposition half and 82.5 per cent ending in the final third.

However, respective figures of 84.5 per cent, 77.0 per cent and 69.8 per cent are reasonable enough when considering Neuhaus has created more chances (30) than Thiago (20), Goretzka (25) or Corentin Tolisso (16).

Only the outstanding Kimmich has won possession more often the Neuhaus (270 versus 235), and the injured Bayern man - set to return in January - joins Thiago in leading the reported target for touches (3763 and 2150 beating 2104).

Keeping such company, Neuhaus looks a Bayern player in waiting - however much that might upset Gladbach.

Toni Kroos can see the merits of a European Super League despite his criticism of potential additions to an already hectic schedule.

The idea of Europe's elite clubs forming their own division has long been mooted but came to the fore again after outgoing Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu claimed the Blaugrana had agreed to join such a league.

Kroos' Real Madrid would surely be involved, too, but the midfielder this week took aim at FIFA and UEFA due to the number of games top players are being asked to play - particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.

Seemingly referring to UEFA's Nations League and a possible super league, he said: "With the invention of all these new things, we seem to be just the puppets of FIFA and UEFA."

Further discussing the purported move with Marca, though, the Germany international highlighted some benefits.

"What I wanted to say is that, without a doubt, there are positive things about it," Kroos told the Spanish newspaper.

"We are going to see many matches of a very high level that we have only seen in the semi-finals of the Champions League. And we all like those games.

"It's going to make football very interesting for the fans of the teams and for those who don't have a specific [team]. We all like to watch football at the highest level."

However, he added: "You also have to take care of small teams. They are all very competitive. The super league is something else. I worry more about other things."

Germany head coach Joachim Low praised his fringe players after a changed side delivered a 1-0 friendly win against the Czech Republic, but warned those involved not to expect a regular place for Die Mannschaft.

Gian-Luca Waldschmidt's first-half goal proved enough to earn Germany only their second victory in six matches in 2020, and the assist came from PSV Eindhoven defender Philipp Max, who was making his debut.

Both Max and fellow debutant Ridle Baku gave strong showings, as did Florian Neuhaus in midfield and Robin Koch at centre-back, but Low indicated that his more established stars would return to the fold for Germany's Nations League meetings with Ukraine and Spain.

"We won't change a lot in those games," Low told RTL.

"This line-up will probably no longer play together. Still, you have to say that the guys got involved and played an intense game.

"We had good actions in the first half. In the second half we failed to score but were able to defend the 1-0 lead, so we can be satisfied."

Max, a former Bayern Munich youth player who represented Schalke, Karlsruher and Augsburg before joining PSV, caused the Czech Republic problems all evening in Leipzig, not least when he instinctively pounced on a parried shot to tee up Waldschmidt's goal.

He said: "I'm really proud to have made my international debut today. It is also a really special day for my family and friends."

Germany did show signs of the defensive frailties that saw them concede seven goals in their previous three outings, but Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, who captained Low's men at Red Bull Arena, was quick to defend his international colleagues.

"Mistakes are common," said Gundogan. "You have to forgive young players, especially those making their debuts.

"We can be satisfied with the win."

Germany picked up only their second victory of 2020 as Gian-Luca Waldschmidt scored to help Joachim Low's men to a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic.

Benfica forward Waldschmidt netted his second goal in five international appearances  in Leipzig, where Low played a new-look team and was rewarded with a solid performance.

There were impressive debuts for wing-backs Ridle Baku and Philipp Max, while Florian Neuhaus dictated play from midfield in the absence of Joshua Kimmich as Robin Koch dealt ably with the visitors' attacking threat.

Low will hope these players can help to usher in a new era of success after a challenging period for his side, who are unbeaten in this calendar year but have too often stuttered to draws and have plenty of work to do in the Nations League.

Toni Kroos has accused FIFA and UEFA of treating footballers like "puppets" by creating new tournaments at club and international level.

Kroos will this week represent Germany in the Nations League, a competition formed two years ago with the aim of replacing friendly matches.

The Club World Cup has also recently been expanded and there is talk of a new European Super League being formed in the coming years.

However, Real Madrid midfielder Kroos is completely against the idea of cramming more fixtures into an already packed schedule.

"With the invention of all these new things we seem to be just the puppets of FIFA and UEFA," he said.

"These competitions are created to suck everything out of every single player physically and to suck out as much money as possible.

"When certain things work well it is a good idea to leave them that way."

Speaking on his Einfach mal Luppen podcast, which he hosts together with brother Felix, Kroos also took aim at fellow professionals who choreograph their goal celebrations.

Referencing celebrations by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has previously sported a Spiderman mask, and Antoine Griezmann, who simulates dance moves from video game Fortnite, Kroos said: "I find it very silly.

"Even worse is if there are any objects hidden in their socks. Aubameyang once celebrated and took out a mask. That's where it ends with me.

"I don't think that's a good role model, either. What nonsense."

Several stars will hope to make their first senior appearances for their countries this week as international football returns.

While most European nations will prepare for their final Nations League matches with friendlies in the coming days, South America is straight back into competitive action with the latest rounds of 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

A host of players are celebrating call-ups and will be doing their utmost to win their first caps, particularly with less than a year to run until the delayed Euro 2020 and Copa America finals.

We've picked out six of the biggest names hoping to make an impact on their debut this week...

 

ENGLAND: JUDE BELLINGHAM

Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham was called up by England boss Gareth Southgate after injuries to Trent Alexander-Arnold and James Ward-Prowse.

The 17-year-old, who will be England's third-youngest debutant if he plays this month, has enjoyed a strong start to life in the Bundesliga and beat the likes of James Maddison and Ross Barkley to a spot in the Three Lions squad.

Key Fact: Bellingham is averaging 68 successful passes per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga this season for Dortmund, the highest figure for any teenage midfielder in Europe's top five divisions.

FRANCE: MARCUS THURAM

Didier Deschamps said Ruben Aguilar could also make his debut this week, but it is Borussia Monchengladbach's Marcus Thuram who is capturing much of the focus on the France squad.

The son of 1998 World Cup winner Lilian Thuram, who holds the record for France caps on 142, striker Marcus Thuram scored both goals in Gladbach's 2-2 Champions League draw with Real Madrid.

Key Fact: Thuram has been directly involved in 20 league goals since the start of last season (11 goals and nine assists) – the only Gladbach player with more in this period is fellow Frenchman Alassane Plea.

GERMANY: FELIX UDUOKHAI

Along with Philipp Max of PSV and Wolfsburg's Ridle Baku, Augsburg's Felix Uduokhai is a new face in Joachim Low's Germany squad, having been a runner-up at the European Under-21 Championship last year.

The 23-year-old defender joined Heiko Herrlich's side permanently after impressing on loan from Wolfsburg last season and has performed well in a mixed start to the season for the Bavarians.

Key Fact: Uduokhai has already amassed 43 clearances in Augsburg's opening seven Bundesliga matches this season, the most of any player in the division.

ITALY: PIETRO PELLEGRI

Roberto Mancini named a handful of uncapped players in his typically expansive Italy squad, but Pietro Pellegri's debut has been eagerly awaited for some time.

Having missed out through injury after his previous call-up two years ago, the 19-year-old forward - who cost Monaco €25million in January 2018 - is getting his career back on track after a raft of fitness problems.

Key Fact: Pietro Pellegri is the third-youngest player to score a Serie A goal, doing so aged 16 years and 72 days for Genoa against Roma in May 2017. He is also the youngest player to score a Serie A brace at 16 years and 184 days old for Genoa against Lazio in September 2017.

SPAIN: MARCOS LLORENTE

At 25, it feels as though Marcos Llorente's Spain debut has been a long time coming, but his performances in a more attacking role for Atletico Madrid this season have truly caught the eye.

The former Real Madrid man, who famously scored twice at Anfield in extra time to knock Liverpool out of last season's Champions League, has helped Atleti to an unbeaten first seven games in LaLiga in 2020-21.

Key Fact: Llorente has been directly involved in 11 goals in his past 21 appearances in LaLiga (six goals and five assists) – prior to this run, he had a total of zero goals and two assists in 69 appearances in the competition.

BRAZIL: DIEGO CARLOS

Diego Carlos played a key role to help Sevilla win the Europa League in his first season in Spain. Indeed, having conceded penalties in the quarter-final, semi-final and final, it was his overhead kick that Romelu Lukaku turned into his own net to hand Julen Lopetegui's side the trophy.

The 27-year-old centre-back, who joined after three years with Nantes, is now bidding to become a mainstay in Tite's plans as the Copa America and 2022 World Cup loom on the horizon.

Key Fact: Diego Carlos has started seven sequences of play that have ended with Sevilla attempting a shot in LaLiga this season, the joint-most of any centre-back in the division alongside Gerard Pique.

Bayern Munich and Germany captain Manuel Neuer hopes there will never be another season like this one as the coronavirus pandemic puts a strain on players.

Neuer, who is in the Germany squad for matches against Czech Republic, Ukraine and Spain, has already racked up 12 appearances for Bayern and two for the national team in 2020-21 as part of a packed fixture list.

Training with his team-mates is now very different to before and the 34-year-old, while reluctant to complain, cannot wait for normality to return.

"There has never been a season like this and hopefully there never will be again," he said to Sport Buzzer.

"Everyone involved knows that there is a lot at the moment. That is why communication with one another is all the more important - with the coaches, the doctors and physios and the players.

"Certain training types are currently no longer possible. We do recovery after the game, then a bit of tactics work, some final training, and then the next game is on. 

"Small tournaments, forms of play and one-to-one training no longer takes place. 

"We as players shouldn't complain, even if we have reached the limit. 

"We are allowed to play - unlike many others - and are very happy about it; you just have to look at the amateur footballers or take a look at other sports."

Neuer added he has enjoyed alternative individual training methods like a fitness mirror he uses at home.

The goalkeeper was saddened to see Joshua Kimmich suffer a knee injury in Bayern's 3-2 win over Borussia Dortmund, though relieved the problem will only keep his club and international team-mate out until January after successful surgery.

Asked if the strain of the fixture list may have contributed to Kimmich going down, Neuer added: "Such injuries can always happen. 

"It also existed before corona and will also exist when fewer games are on the schedule. 

"The injury for Jo hurts us, of course - at Bayern and Germany - but we know him and know how motivated, conscientious and ambitious he is. 

"So I'm absolutely certain that he will come back in his old strength in January. That's the plan."

Germany coach Joachim Low has ruled out international recalls for experienced Bayern Munich duo Thomas Muller and Jerome Boateng plus Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels.

Low sent the three players into the international wilderness in March 2019 as he looked to build towards the future after Germany flopped at the 2018 World Cup.

Attacking midfielder Muller (100 caps), and defenders Boateng (76 caps) and Hummels (70 caps) boast 246 appearances for Germany between them and were all in the team that won the World Cup in 2014, but the trio are all over the age of 30.

Germany have qualified for Euro 2020 but their defence in particular has been shaky in recent games, shipping seven goals in their last three matches, leading to calls for Boateng and Hummels to be reconsidered.

However, Low has stated he will resist the urge to bring any of the trio back into the fold unless it was an emergency situation.

"We basically decided not to pick these players, nothing has changed that now," Low told Kicker.

"We can't go back now. They are great players with class.

"If a completely new situation arises for us next year due to the failure of key players, I will evaluate it accordingly and think about alternative scenarios." 

The manner in which three popular players, who are still integral to their club sides, have been jettisoned has helped fuel a growing discord between Germany's fans and the national team setup.

Oliver Bierhoff, the national team director of the German Football Association, has urged the country to unite and get behind Die Mannschaft again.

Germany host the Czech Republic in a friendly fixture on Wednesday before Nations League clashes against Ukraine and Spain.

"It hurts the way the young players are dealt with. A dark cloud is falling over the national team," ex-Germany striker Bierhoff said at a news conference on Monday.

"I am not interested in the criticism, but in the tonality and the mood that is conveyed in.

"We are no longer Germany's favourite child but the national team is still Germany's most important football team. Support and a positive spirit would help the boys."

Bierhoff claimed representing Germany is still important, and despite some star players earning vast salaries at club level they still sense when supporters of the national team are not behind them.

He added: "You have to be honest - when it comes to money and fame none of the players really need the national team.

"The boys earn a lot of money, but they are also people. It hurts that we no longer support and honour them. The boys really deserve our trust. The players want to be closer to the fans."

Joshua Kimmich has avoided serious injury and will return in the new year after going down in Bayern Munich's 3-2 win over Borussia Dortmund.

There were fears Kimmich was set for a long spell on the sidelines after he appeared to overextend his knee while fouling Erling Haaland in Saturday's Klassiker.

The versatile midfielder had to be helped off the pitch and, while refusing to comment on the nature or extent of the issue, coach Hansi Flick acknowledged afterwards Kimmich would be a big miss.

But Bayern revealed on Sunday the player had suffered a right lateral meniscus injury and had already undergone successful surgery.

The ailment is still going to keep Kimmich out of action but, according to Bayern's medical staff, only until January.

Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic added: "We are happy that Joshua will probably be available to us again in a few weeks.

"We will give him the best possible support during his rehab."

Kimmich has started all but three of Bayern's Bundesliga matches since the start of last season, although they have a trio of wins without the Germany international in the XI, scoring 12 times and conceding just once.

He has a goal and four assists in six league games this term, creating 12 chances in all.

Kimmich has completed 89.8 per cent of his Bundesliga passes this season – 87.1 per cent in the opposition half – and has won possession on 50 occasions, although he has lost the ball 85 times.

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