Leon Goretzka said Bayern Munich only had themselves to blame after letting a two-goal lead slip in a dramatic 3-2 defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach on Friday.

Robert Lewandowski and Goretzka were on target to put the European champions in command after only 26 minutes at Borussia-Park, but the hosts came storming back.

Jonas Hofmann struck twice and Florian Neuhaus gave Gladbach the lead four minutes into the second half as the leaders fell to pieces.

The Bavarian giants were unable to prevent seeing their 20-match unbeaten run come to a stunning halt, and the 24 goals they have conceded from 15 games is their worst defensive record at this stage of the season since the 1981-82 campaign.

Midfielder Goretzka knows Bayern must tighten up in their quest for yet more honours.

"Giving the game away like that after leading 2-0 hurts. The first 30 or 35 minutes were the best we've played in a long time," he said.

"We were in control, but then we lost the ball twice where we shouldn't lose it and didn't react properly. Then it's 2-2 in no time. Their winner comes from a similar situation. We invited the opponent three times and they took their chances.

"Then you're behind and it doesn't get easier when a team is able to just concentrate on defending. In the second half, we had a bit of bad luck here and there.

"They were individual mistakes, but you can still position yourself better beforehand so that these ball losses are not so devastating. We are conceding too many goals against at the moment."

Hofmann now has six goals from 14 goals in all competitions and the winger felt Marco Rose's side exploited Bayern's high defensive line superbly.

"We're over the moon. It was a tough fight. After going 2-0 down, I'm sure many didn't expect us to be able to turn it around. We scored the first two goals exactly as we had imagined.

"Bayern defended with a very high line, so we had to get behind the back four. We did that very well. We had a hard time at the start, but we got into the game more and more.

"It was great that we took the lead right after the break. In the end, it was a tough battle defending that all. That's part of it, especially against Bayern."

Gladbach's victory put them level with Werder Bremen on 26 Bundesliga successes against Bayern, a total that no side has bettered.

Hansi Flick has been impressed by Bayer Leverkusen so far this season but remains confident Bayern Munich can come out on top in the battle of the Bundesliga's top two on Saturday. 

Leverkusen hold top spot in the table heading into the game at their BayArena home, the final outing for both clubs before the mid-season break in Germany. 

Peter Bosz's side are unbeaten after the opening 12 league games this season, the first time that has happened for them since the 2009-10 campaign. However, Bayern have won three of their last four games in Leverkusen, including a 4-2 triumph there in June. 

On the eve of the much-anticipated clash, Flick outlined the challenges his team will face on the road, though also made clear the size of the task facing Leverkusen - particularly if everyone for Bayern is at "100 per cent" for their final outing in a hugely successful 2020. 

"This is a strong team. Leverkusen has had a very, very good run," Flick told the media on Friday.  

"They have confidence and are in a good mood. The idea they have is a good one: they play for possession and are able to put their stamp on the game.  

"We need to be good defensively and make sure not to lose the ball. If everyone is 100 per cent there, it will be difficult for Leverkusen to beat us."

Kingsley Coman has certainly been at his peak so far in the campaign, providing a competition-high seven assists in the Bundesliga – already a new personal best for the Frenchman. 

The winger has had a hand in at least one goal in each of his previous five Bundesliga games for the first time, leading Flick to praise the player for his recent run of form. 

The Bayern boss hopes Douglas Costa, Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane can raise their standards too, making clear the trio all have "room for improvement". 

Sane's form has come under close scrutiny in particular, the big-money signing from Manchester City having started only five league games so far, though he has contributed three goals and the same number of assists. 

Gnabry has found the net four times but is yet to set up a team-mate in 775 league minutes, while Costa has produced one goal and a solitary assist having seen less action than the other trio. 

"Kingsley Coman is currently the benchmark for everyone when it comes to scoring contributions," said Flick. 

"The other three - Costa, Gnabry and Sane - still have room for improvement. We hope that they will be close to 100 per cent tomorrow. That would help us a lot." 

Flick revealed Bayern will not rush back Joshua Kimmich from a knee injury suffered in early November, while Leon Goretzka will be assessed after training to see if he can feature against Leverkusen.

Bayern Munich are top of the Bundesliga but coach Hansi Flick does not feel his side are worthy of any style points, joking their current form will not see them receive a "beauty award". 

The champions returned to winning ways in the Bundesliga on Saturday following last weekend's draw with Werder Bremen, coming from behind to beat Stuttgart 3-1 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. 

Tanguy Coulibaly handed the hosts a 20th-minute lead with his first professional goal but Bayern stormed back to claim all three points through fine strikes from Kingsley Coman and Robert Lewandowski before the break and a late third from Douglas Costa.

Stuttgart had 15 shots on goal to Bayern's 13 and caused problems throughout for a side they have now lost to in all but one of their 20 competitive matches. 

The result moves Bayern two points clear at the summit following Borussia Dortmund's home defeat to Cologne, yet Flick still wants to see more from his side. 

"We all know that we are currently not getting a beauty award," he told a media conference. 

"So, it was very important today that we found our way back into the game after falling behind and took the points back to Munich. But we also know that we can play a lot better.

"I know that the team is at the limit right now."

At the heart of Bayern's win was a dominant display in midfield by Leon Gortezka. 

Starting his sixth Bundesliga game of the season, the former Schalke man completed 90.9 per cent of his passes - making him the most accurate outfield starter on the pitch - and made four interceptions and 11 possession gains, with both of those tallies the highest of any Bayern player. 

Flick has been impressed with the 25-year-old's leadership qualities and believes he has been a superb deputy for Joshua Kimmich, who suffered a knee injury against Dortmund earlier this month that will keep him out of action until 2021.

"He is currently a player in midfield who is helping to compensate for Joshua Kimmich's absence," the Bayern boss added. 

"He is loud and takes the team with him. These are the things I like. He is currently in the process of showing his leadership qualities again and again in the game."

Leon Goretzka has yet to sit down with Bayern Munich for contract talks but would be ready to hold discussions with the club.

The Germany midfielder has been a regular since joining Bayern from Schalke in 2018 and still has around 18 months to run on his existing deal.

He featured 38 times in last season's treble-winning campaign and has been used on 10 occasions in all competitions already in 2020-21.

No Bayern player has recovered the ball more often than Goretzka in the Bundesliga this term (10.47 per game) and only Javi Martinez has more interceptions (3.03 per game compared to 2.76).

Bayern have struggled to tie down fellow key player David Alaba to a new deal, the messy saga being played out in public in recent weeks, while Thiago Alcantata recently left for Liverpool when he had just a year remaining on his contract.

But Goretzka, who previously spent five seasons with fellow Bundesliga side Schalke, is open to talking over fresh terms.

"So far there have been no discussions held with me," he said at a news conference ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Salzburg.

"I'm under contract for another year and a half so there is not a lot of pressure.

"But if Brazzo [sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic] or Hansi [Flick] approach me in the next few weeks then I will not refuse to talk to them."

Goretzka has also started all four of Germany's Nations League matches this year, playing an hour of last week's humbling 6-0 loss against Spain.

It was Germany's heaviest defeat since they lost to Austria in a friendly in 1931 by the same scoreline and has led to questions being asked of long-serving boss Joachim Low.

The German Football Association this week announced it would give Low time before assessing his future and Goretzka can understand the furore surrounding the defeat.

"If you lose a game that high then it is normal in our business to be criticised," he said. "I didn't exactly wake up the next morning with a good feeling, either.

"For me personally, it was about processing the loss, taking some time and then switching focus back to challenges at Bayern."

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.

Losing Thiago Alcantara would be a crushing blow to most teams in the world, but Bayern Munich are not like most teams.

While the Spain star – having helped to inspire last season's treble triumph – is adjusting to Premier League life with Liverpool, his former employers have set about defending their three trophies with such authority that they scarcely seem to feel his absence.

Aside from the aberration of that 4-1 loss to Hoffenheim, which came only a month after the Champions League final win over Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern have won every match this season. That run of 11 wins in 12 games includes an 8-0 Bundesliga destruction of Schalke, victories in the UEFA Super Cup and DFL-Supercup and 12 goals scored in three Champions League matches.

Their most recent, a 6-2 win at Salzburg, saw Joshua Kimmich reach seven assists in his past six appearances in the competition. The previous match, a 2-1 victory over Lokomotiv Moscow, was secured by goals from Kimmich and Leon Goretzka.

These results are not only snapshots of the midfield duo's importance to Hansi Flick in these post-Thiago years; they also highlight how each player is taking his game to new heights to keep Bayern at cruising altitude.

 

ON THE GOAL TRAIL

In the Bundesliga last season, Kimmich (four goals and seven assists) and Goretzka (six goals and five assists) easily outperformed Thiago (three goals and zero assists) in terms of goal involvements. That said, Thiago had an Expected Assists rating of 2.3, while Kimmich's was way up at 11.3, suggesting even an attack led by Robert Lewandowski will miss its fair share of chances.

Of course, for the Bayern midfield axis, goal involvement is a bonus rather than an expectation. Exponents of this position are required to win back and recycle possession and, in 2019-20, neither Kimmich nor Goretzka could better Thiago for passing accuracy (91 per cent), tackle success (58 per cent) or duel success (59 per cent). He also averaged more touches per 90 minutes (109).

This season, however, we see both players rising to the challenge of filling that Thiago void. Kimmich's passing success (90 per cent) is the same, but his tackle and duel success rates have risen slightly to 60 per cent. Goretzka, too, has had very similar levels of increase. More pertinently, each player is having more shots and more touches per 90 minutes on average and they are already on the goal trail: they've scored one each, while Goretzka has assisted one and Kimmich four.

Kimmich, in fact, is the solitary Bundesliga central midfielder to be involved in five goals this season, and only Thomas Muller and Jonas Hofmann can match his four assists. He is on track to match his assist tally of seven from last season before we have even reached the winter break. 

AXIS OF POWER

This attacking output from Kimmich in particular has been a tactic Bayern have been building on since last season, when, despite the occasional return to his old right-back haunt, his role was almost always at the heart of the midfield.

After his winning goal in the Supercup win over Borussia Dortmund, Flick described how Kimmich was "well on his way to being one of the players that shape this club". He certainly shapes their approach.

In 2019-20, Kimmich was involved in 202 open-play sequences that ended in a shot, and 27 ended with a goal. They are far superior figures to those of Thiago (141 and 17) and Goretzka (103 and 15). In the Bundesliga overall, only Timo Werner (214) was involved in more sequences ending in a shot last term.

Similarly, Kimmich registered 21 goal build-up involvements, more than Thiago (14) and Goretzka (four) put together, although admittedly Goretzka is more likely to be the one putting the ball in the net at the end of these moves.

This season, though, Goretzka has stepped up: he has been involved in 24 open-play sequences leading to a shot, just eight down on Kimmich, and each player boasts four goal build-up involvements, a tally nobody in the Bundesliga can better.

THE LONG GAME

Thiago's array of passing set him apart for Bayern. The fact he so often played the right ball at the right time left opponents uncertain whether to revert to low blocks or high pressing, something which will undoubtedly give Liverpool a tactical boost.

Last season, Thiago completed 91 per cent of 1,797 attempted passes in the Bundesliga, averaging 91.3 per 90 minutes. A quarter of all of those passes went forwards and 20 led to goalscoring chances. He also completed 78 per cent of his attempted long passes – so much for forcing him back into his own half.

Goretzka completed 86 per cent of 909 attempted passes last term, the majority of which went sideways (27 per cent left, 30 per cent right). His long passes found their mark just less than three times in every four attempts. Now, while he still favours sideways distribution, he is averaging 2.5 more passes per 90 minutes, the success rate is up to 89 per cent and his long-pass accuracy has jumped to 85 per cent.

Kimmich was already a passing maestro last season, although he completed fewer than Thiago per 90 minutes (81.3). His success rate stood at 90 per cent from 2,548 attempts and he created 75 goalscoring chances.

But things have evolved. Whereas 10 per cent of his passes in 2019-20 went long, 16 per cent of them have in 2020-21, and yet his passing-per-90 figure is practically unchanged. His long-pass success rate is also up significantly to 87 per cent, while the number of backwards passes has dropped by four per cent, and he already has four assists from 12 key passes in total. In essence, he has maintained his short-passing game while taking on some of Thiago's old defence-splitting duties, and is performing them with aplomb.

Jose Mourinho once said the "phenomenal" Kimmich was "a top right-back, left-back, centre-back, number six, number eight, number 10". Scarily, alongside Goretzka, the 25-year-old seems to be all those things at once – and getting even better.

Joshua Kimmich said Champions League holders Bayern Munich were "lucky" to come away with a win after he scored decisively in a 2-1 victory over Lokomotiv Moscow.

Kimmich struck in the 79th minute to clinch a record-extending 13th consecutive Champions League victory for the Bundesliga and European champions, but the Bayern star admitted they did not have it all their own way at RZD Arena.

Lokomotiv spurned a chance to take the lead before Leon Goretzka opened the scoring in the 13th minute, and the hosts did find the net through Anton Miranchuk on Tuesday.

The equaliser set up a tense finish in Moscow and Kimmich's quality shone through as he lashed home the winner from 20 yards, before praising his opponents in his post-match comments.

"I thought Lokomotiv had a great game," Kimmich, who has either scored (two) or assisted (five) seven of Bayern's last 15 goals in the Champions League, told reporters.

"They were good in transition, attacking with some fast players. It was not easy in the second half but in the end we were lucky to come out with the win.

"[It was] a really hard-fought victory. We didn't play badly, but we should have finished it off earlier.

"We scored quite early on, almost from nothing, but didn't really have a clear chance to get the second, especially after the break. They had some dangerous counters, but in the end we are happy to win despite not being at our best."

Bayern's opening goal came courtesy of a neat piece of play in which Corentin Tolisso played a chipped pass to Benjamin Pavard, whose volleyed cross was steered into the net by Goretzka.

Head coach Hansi Flick praised Bayern's application of an approach they had prepared on the training ground.

"It's one way that we try to break down teams that sit deep and defend," Flick said of his side's first goal.

"It worked well once or twice and came off sensationally for the goal.

"It was a hard-fought win, gritty if you like. Moscow did well, they defended very deep and worked with the long balls, which hurt us one or two times.

"But overall, I think we can say the 2-1 win was deserved, even if it wasn’t as clear as we'd hoped for."

Bayern remain unbeaten in their last 14 away European games – in European Cup/Champions League history only Manchester United (16) have gone longer without defeat on the road.

Joshua Kimmich scored a late 20-yard stunner to secure Champions League holders Bayern Munich a 2-1 victory over a Lokomotiv Moscow side that threatened to cause an upset.

Leon Goretzka scored his second goal in as many European matches to give Bayern the lead, the midfielder finishing a sumptuous passing move after 13 minutes as Hansi Flick's men rose to the challenge of playing lively opposition in front of a raucous crowd at RZD Arena.

Lokomotiv struggled to deal with the threat of Kingsley Coman and Thomas Muller on either flank, just as Atletico Madrid did in the 4-0 defeat against the German and European Champions six days earlier.

Bayern, who thrashed Eintracht Frankfurt 5-0 between their two opening Group A matches, looked set to drop points when Anton Miranchuk equalised 20 minutes from time.

But Kimmich kept a cool head to restore the visitors' lead, controlling Javi Martinez's pass before lashing home from outside the box.

 

Holders Bayern Munich began their Champions League defence with a stylish 4-0 Group A victory over Atletico Madrid thanks to an eye-catching display from Kingsley Coman.

Coman scored the decisive goal when Bayern beat Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 to claim their sixth European crown in Lisbon in August.

The France winger was prominent for Bayern again on Wednesday with the opening goal and a fine assist for Leon Goretzka in the first half against a sluggish Atletico.

Corentin Tolisso added a third after the break with a long-range strike before Coman put the gloss on the result with a brilliant individual goal.

Football players have a somewhat unfair reputation for not being the brightest but several members of Germany's international squad bravely fought against that assertion on an episode of 'Who wants to be a millionaire?'.

Bayern Munich duo Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka teamed up and entertained on their way to winning €64,000 having got as far as the €125,000 question on the famous quiz show.

Club-mate Niklas Sule was paired with RB Leipzig defender Lukas Klostermann and together they earned an impressive €125,000.

Eintracht Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp and former international Oliver Bierhoff, now part of the set-up as a director, did not fare quite as well but still took home a credible €32,000.

It is not the first time Germany stars have sat on the famous chair. Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer earned a cheque for charity to the tune of €500,000 in 2011, while five years ago Lukas Podolski won €125,000.

Germany had a clanger from Georgi Bushchan to thank for their 2-1 win against Ukraine as Joachim Low's side finally won a Nations League match.

At their seventh attempt, Germany picked up a victory in the competition, but there were nervy moments during the closing stages in Kiev.

Matthias Ginter and Leon Goretzka gave the visitors a healthy 2-0 lead, with the latter nodding in from a couple of yards after Ukraine goalkeeper Bushchan practically dropped a cross onto his head.

The visitors were under pressure late on after Ruslan Malinovskiy's 76th-minute penalty gave Ukraine hope, but they held on.

Germany went ahead in the 20th minute as Ginter netted his second senior international goal, turning in a cross from Antonio Rudiger who danced around the right side of the Ukraine defence before delivering the ball low across the six-yard box.

Joshua Kimmich almost beat Bushchan from 25 yards, forcing the goalkeeper who conceded seven against France in midweek to tip over.

Germany looked sure to get another before half-time when Serge Gnabry's diving header from Ginter's clipped cross from the right arrived towards the near right corner, but Bushchan flung himself across to turn the ball wide.

Bushchan's calamitous blunder came in the 49th minute, when he made an awful mess of Lukas Klostermann's cross from the right flank, and Goretzka could not miss.

Julian Draxler should have scored a third goal for Germany 90 seconds later after Gnabry cut the ball into his path. The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder had time to set himself in the penalty area, but this time Bushchan made the save.

Ukraine's threat was minimal, but they had a lifeline when Roman Yaremchuk went down under Niklas Sule's challenge, earning a penalty.

Malinovskiy fired into the bottom-left corner, but Ukraine, backed by fervent, horn-blowing home support after the stadium was open to 30 per capacity, could not find a leveller.

Javi Martinez was Bayern Munich's unlikely hero as the Spaniard came off the bench to head in an extra-time winner in the 2-1 Super Cup victory over Sevilla.

Hansi Flick's treble-winning outfit struggled against a stubborn Sevilla side who had been unbeaten since February – a run that included a record sixth triumph in the Europa League, formerly the UEFA Cup – and the LaLiga side went ahead through Lucas Ocampos' penalty.

Leon Goretzka levelled before half-time but Bayern's run of 22 successive victories would have come to an end had Youssef En-Nesyri not been thwarted by Manuel Neuer in the dying stages of normal time.

But it was fellow substitute Martinez, linked with a return to Athletic Bilbao after eight years in Bavaria, who scored his first goal since April 2019 to earn Bayern yet more silverware.

Bayern opened their 2020-21 season with an 8-0 rout of Schalke but it was Sevilla who struck first through Ocampos' penalty.

Luuk de Jong's cushioned header reached Ivan Rakitic, and the midfielder – back at the club after re-joining from Barcelona – was barged over by David Alaba, with Ocampos outfoxing Neuer from a no-look spot-kick. 

Robert Lewandowski failed to beat Yassine Bounou from a one-on-one as Bayern responded, but he made up for that before half-time, laying the ball back for Goretzka to pick his spot and score the equaliser.

The Champions League winners thought they had the lead within six minutes of the restart after Muller teed up Lewandowski, having initially been presented with the chance himself by the Pole, but VAR spotted Bayern's number nine was offside when first collecting Leroy Sane's pass.

It was one-way traffic thereafter as Bounou denied Serge Gnabry and Diego Carlos blocked the rebound from Sane, who had a goal disallowed himself after Lewandowski was adjudged to have fouled Sergio Escudero in the build-up.

But it was Sevilla who should have won the game in normal time when Jesus Navas released En-Nesyri on a counter-attack, only for Neuer to make the save from an attempt that was too easy to anticipate.

Sevilla had renewed optimism at the start of the additional period, though En-Nesyri looked offside when he aimed an effort at goal that Neuer's right foot diverted onto a post.

And Martinez made him pay five minutes after coming on when he directed a header past Bounou after the goalkeeper could only push Alaba's effort back in front of him.

Bayern Munich started the defence of their Bundesliga title in ominous fashion as a Serge Gnabry hat-trick helped them to a stunning 8-0 win over Schalke at the Allianz Arena on Friday. 

A mere 26 days after winning the Champions League, Hansi Flick's side showed no signs of tiredness and powered into a fourth-minute lead thanks to Gnabry's superb strike.

That was added to by Leon Goretzka after 19 minutes before Robert Lewandowski swept home a third from the penalty spot shortly after the half-hour mark.

Gnabry completed his hat-trick with two goals inside the opening 15 minutes of the second half before Thomas Muller, Leroy Sane - making his debut following his July move from Manchester City - and 17-year-old Jamal Musiala completed Schalke's humiliation.

Bayern started in blistering fashion as Gnabry controlled Joshua Kimmich's long pass over the top, turned away from his marker with a deft turn and whipped a superb left-footed strike past Ralf Fahrmann from 18 yards.

Flick's side bamboozled Schalke's backline with relentless pressure and the hosts were unsurprisingly undone again shortly before the midway point of the first half when Goretzka slotted home from the edge of the penalty area after being picked out by Muller.

Lewandowski - who scored 55 goals in all competitions last season - opened his account for the 2020-21 campaign from the spot in the 31st minute after he had been brought down by Ozan Kabak, while Niklas Sule crashed an effort against the post shortly before the interval.

Bayern started the second half like they did the first, Gnabry slotting into an empty net two minutes after the restart after Sane had pushed the ball past an onrushing Fahrmann.

Sane was the provider again after 59 minutes, teeing up Gnabry to seal his hat-trick from 10 yards, while an outrageous rabona from Lewandowski set up Muller to add a sixth in the 69th minute, the 31-year-old's side-footed volley squirming underneath Fahrmann.

Sane capped a fine display with his first Bayern goal two minutes later, slotting past Schalke's woefully exposed goalkeeper after being played through by Kimmich, while substitute Musiala scored his first Bayern goal nine minutes from time to complete the nightmare for Schalke.

Bayern Munich midfielder Leon Goretzka is looking forward to the challenge of taking on Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi after going up against Cristiano Ronaldo.

When he was at Schalke, Goretzka twice faced Ronaldo's Real Madrid, losing 6-1 in February 2014 and winning 4-3 at the Santiago Bernabeu a year later – with both matches part of Champions League last-16 exits for the Bundesliga side.

The imposing midfielder will get his first chance to take on Messi in a professional match when Bayern play Barca in the Champions League quarter-finals in Lisbon on Friday.

However, Goretzka knows it will take a team effort to contain Messi, who was pivotal in getting Barca past Napoli in the last-16 second leg last week.

"After having played Cristiano Ronaldo several times, it's nice to be able to play against another leading footballer of our decade," said Goretzka.

"The only way it works [stopping Messi] is collectively. Everyone knows just how gifted he is, he is capable of finding many solutions also in tight situations.

"We will have to fight back as a team. If one player can actually take away his fun in the game, I don't know. We just have to fight back as a team and try to play our game."

Goretzka left Schalke for Bayern on a free transfer in 2018 despite interest from Barcelona, and he feels resisting the lure of Camp Nou was the correct decision.

"Back then I deliberately took a long time. I had a few options to stay with Schalke. I listened to everything and made a conscious decision in favour of Bayern. I have never regretted making this decision," he said.

The suspension of major football during the coronavirus pandemic means the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the Champions League will be played as single games rather than over two legs, with UEFA squeezing in the closing stages of the tournament ahead of the start of the 2020-21 season.

Goretzka believes Bayer Leverkusen's Europa League exit at the hands of Inter on Monday was a reminder of how that change has altered the dynamics of European competition.

"This is a knockout game. The right mental mix is always required. Yesterday the Leverkusen game annoyed me because they actually played a good game but were eliminated because of 20 minutes. I had the feeling that they would have progressed over two legs," he said.

"I think we can beat any opponent. Nevertheless, we know that a very good team is waiting for us with world-class players. But we will play with our chests puffed out, like we have over the past nine months. We are already in a positive mood."

Chelsea will have an advantage in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Bayern Munich, according to Leon Goretzka.

Bayern hold a commanding 3-0 lead following an impressive victory at Stamford Bridge in February, but they will not have played a competitive game in over a month when they take on Chelsea at the Allianz Arena on August 8.

The Blues, meanwhile, will conclude their Premier League campaign on July 26 and will contest the FA Cup final on August 1 if they defeat Manchester United in a semi-final at Wembley on Sunday.

Goretzka thinks that gives Frank Lampard's side an edge, though the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal champions will do their utmost to ensure Chelsea do not repeat their 2012 Champions League final success over Bayern in Munich.

"We've already had a great season, winning the championship and the cup," Goretzka told Bild am Sonntag.

"It is clear to every one of us that the competition and our path to the final is extremely challenging."

Whoever progress from the tie between Chelsea and Bayern will take on either Napoli or Barcelona in the quarter-finals in Lisbon, with one of Real Madrid, Manchester City, Lyon and Juventus waiting in the final four.

Goretzka continued: "All our focus in on the game against Chelsea. The good thing about such top opponents is that they have as much respect for us as we do for them.

"Chelsea has the advantage that they are travelling to Munich just after the season, while we want to keep up our rhythm.

"We will do everything to make sure Chelsea will not be successful again in Munich."

The Bundesliga was the first of Europe's top five leagues to resume amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the campaign wrapped up on June 27.

Goretzka impressed in the heart of Bayern's midfield following the resumption in May and put it down to increasing his muscle mass during the hiatus.

"For me, lockdown was both a crisis and an opportunity," said Goretzka.

"A crisis because you miss football and daily training with the team. But also, a chance to gain muscle mass in co-ordination with the physiotherapist.

"In crucial games and moments, it is important to be physically and mentally fit. The weight helps me in tackles, makes me a bit more agile and robust. Not only on the ground in a one-on-one, but also in the air."

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