Joachim Low believes Germany have the right mix in attack to cause France problems as the two heavyweight nations prepare to do battle at Euro 2020.

Tuesday's huge clash pits the previous two World Cup winners against each other in Munich, with reigning European champions Portugal and Hungary the other nations in Group F.

France have been boosted by the international return of Karim Benzema, the Real Madrid striker joining Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud - who is five goals shy of Thierry Henry's record of 51 goals for Les Bleus - as attacking options for head coach Didier Deschamps to utilise.

However, on the eve of the contest, Low has made clear he is not short of talent in his own squad, meaning defenders for both sides will have to be on high alert at all times.

"It's obvious we also have a lot of qualities in our team, a good balance and the right mix in attack," Low told the media on Monday.

"We have a lot of quality. Timo Werner, Leroy Sane, these are players who can decide matches. Kai Havertz, Thomas Muller and Serge Gnabry too.

"I think both attacks are a real threat, you shouldn't let them out of sight.

"You have to be focused every minute, because all of these players can score and be decisive."

Leon Goretzka could be involved in his country's opening fixture having trained with his team-mates as he continues his recovery from a torn muscle.

"It's only Jonas Hofmann who is not available. All other players have joined in with training, Leon as well was with us," Low said when asked for a squad update.

"I think he [Goretzka] trained four or five sessions with the team, overall he gave a good impression and he doesn't feel anything from his injury.

"He won't be risked, but I've said to Leon we will talk after our final training session. It's clear that he won't be in the starting XI just because the break he's had is too long.

"We will talk and take a decision over whether he can be on the bench, maybe give him some minutes. We will talk with the medical department about him too, I just wanted him to participate in training and if something wasn't going well he could tell me."

For Low, this is the start of his farewell tour with the national team. He will step down once the tournament is over but hopes to be celebrating after his final game in charge.

"I don't think about it that it's my last tournament, my last matches. I'm just too focused on preparations for this tournament," he said. 

"I'm focused on this year, maybe in a few weeks, hopefully when we've won the tournament, then I might be sad. But not at the moment, I'm focused on our task here."

Low's former assistant Hansi Flick will take over after Euro 2020.

Bayern Munich will try to help Robert Lewandowski make Bundesliga history but securing the title is the top priority, says Hansi Flick.

Lewandowski returned to full training this week after suffering knee ligament damage while away on international duty with Poland last month.

The striker missed both legs of Bayern's Champions League quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain as the defending champions were knocked out on away goals, while an extended absence hampered his chances of surpassing Gerd Muller's record tally of 40 league goals, achieved back in the 1971-72 season.

Sitting on 35 with just four games remaining, the 32-year-old is set to make his comeback when Flick's table-topping side visit Mainz on Saturday.

A win on the road will secure a ninth successive league crown and while Lewandowski is also so close to achieving personal glory, the team still comes first for Flick.

"I think we all agree that's his major goal," the Bayern boss told a news conference on Friday.

"He's going to be part of the squad, Leon Goretzka is going to be part of the squad, Serge Gnabry is probably going to be part of the squad. The squad is slowly but surely filling up again – we are returning to normal, which is good of course.

"It's important for us to win the championship - we want to do that as quickly as possible."

On Lewandowski's impending return, he added: "Don't forget that he was out for four weeks.

"He's in very good shape, he showed that in training, but we have to wait and see how he handles the training sessions and the comeback attempt, how his body reacts.

"Of course we will all try to support him, but first of all our focus and priority is the success of the team and the club."

Lewandowski was badly missed as Bayern scored just three goals from 45 shots and eight 'big chances' against PSG. In the 3-2 home defeat in the first leg, the German club's tally of 31 attempts were worth 3.8 expected goals (xG).

Out of Europe, the Bundesliga is the solitary focus for Flick and his squad - but the outgoing head coach expects in-form Mainz to make it difficult to get over the line.

"It's definitely a very deserved championship," he said. "We hope we can win it in Mainz, but we know that they are in really good shape, unbeaten in six games – four wins and two draws – and against some teams who are at the top as well.

"They are a team who are aggressive in defence and very compact. When they win possession, they transition very quickly. These are the things we have to be wary of."

Bayern fought back to record a 5-2 win against Mainz in the reverse fixture, making it the first time since 1988 - and just the fourth occasion overall - that the Bavarians had come back to triumph after being at least two goals down at half-time in the league.

Bayern Munich face mounting injury problems ahead of Saturday's showdown with Union Berlin, as Hansi Flick fears Niklas Sule could miss the second leg with Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

Sule, Leon Goretzka, Lucas Hernandez and Marc Roca will all be absent when Bayern return to Bundesliga action at the weekend.

Defender Sule and midfielder Goretzka were both injured in the 3-2 quarter-final first-leg loss to PSG, with the former a major doubt for the return match.

"Leon Goretzka, Niklas Sule, Lucas Hernandez and Marc Roca will all be unavailable," said head coach Flick.

"Niklas Sule and Leon Goretzka have muscular problems. Leon's problems aren't quite as bad as Niklas'.

"So Niklas will probably miss the second leg versus PSG as well. We need to wait and see how things develop.

"Marc got injured against Leipzig. He started training again but had to stop. Lucas suffered a knock, this is nothing to do with his abdominal muscle injury, but it's painful.

"We're hoping Leon and Lucas will be available in Paris."

Despite Bayern's midweek setback in defence of their Champions League title, Flick's men sit seven points clear at the Bundesliga summit ahead of the visit of seventh-placed Union Berlin.

Union held the German champions to a 1-1 draw in December and Flick expects another tough test from Urs Fischer's side.

"We want to beat Union, but it will be difficult," he said. "We will also be taking workload into consideration however, but three points are our priority.

"I like their mentality and the way they play football. They run a lot and are very dynamic. The coach is doing an outstanding job and I'm looking forward to seeing him again."

Bayern Munich head coach Hansi Flick said the Champions League holders were "very unlucky" to lose to Paris Saint-Germain in the opening leg of their quarter-final tie.

PSG left snowy Bavaria with a 3-2 advantage over Bayern thanks to Kylian Mbappe's memorable brace on Wednesday.

In a rematch of last season's Champions League final, Bayern had 31 attempts – 12 of which were on target – to PSG's six but they still came up short in the absence of injured star Robert Lewandowski.

Mbappe opened the scoring in the third minute and Marquinhos doubled the lead 25 minutes later, but Bayern rallied from 2-0 down thanks to Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Thomas Muller – who equalised on the hour-mark.

PSG, though, had the final say after Mbappe restored the visitors' lead eight minutes later as Bayern had their 19-match unbeaten streak in the Champions League snapped.

"The defeat was very unlucky for us," Flick told reporters post-game. "Paris were very efficient.

"We were dominating and had 31 shots. But I have to give a compliment to my team for their motivation and their mentality. We were not that efficient when we tried to use our chances.

"But I already told my team – we still have one game in Paris. We will do everything to turn this around into a positive result.

"It's still our goal to reach the semi-final. The result from today does not change that."

Bayern's Joshua Kimmich created 10 chances against PSG, the most by a player in a single Champions League match at the quarter-final stage or later since Mesut Ozil (12) for Real Madrid against Tottenham in April 2011.

As for team-mate Muller, he has now scored 24 goals in the knockout stages of the competition – the fourth-most of any player, behind Cristiano Ronaldo (67), Lionel Messi (49) and Lewandowski (26).

Flick, meanwhile, is set to be without key duo Niklas Sule and Leon Goretzka after they both hobbled off against PSG.

"Both have muscular problems," said Flick, whose Bayern have conceded 50 goals in 42 matches this season, as many as they shipped in total in 2019-20 – the last campaign in which they conceded more goals was 2010-11 (54).

"I don't know how long they will be out. The examination will tell us. I don't think they will play at the weekend and then we will see."

Leon Goretzka insists Germany's players are to blame for their shock defeat to North Macedonia and not under-fire head coach Joachim Low.

Germany lost 2-1 on Wednesday to the side ranked 52 places below them in the FIFA rankings – their first World Cup qualifying defeat since September 2011, a run spanning 35 games.

The loss was Die Mannschaft's second in four competitive matches, having also been thrashed 6-0 by Spain in November's Nations League clash.

Low recently announced he will quit his role with the national side after the rescheduled Euro 2020, though Germany's poor form – just five wins in their last 11 matches – has led to calls for a change before the tournament.

But Goretzka, who started all three of Germany's March qualifiers, has absolved the long-serving head coach of any blame for the latest calamitous loss, which leaves Germany third in Group J.

"We players are to blame for the defeat and no one else," he told ZDF. "We felt a touch of euphoria in the country after beating Iceland and Romania. 

"We have just got to tell ourselves now that it is behind us. You have to see that the scaffolding is becoming even more stable. In any case, that is primarily the job of the players."

Goretzka marked his return to club duty on Saturday with the winning goal in Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich's 1-0 win over closest challengers RB Leipzig.

He has been a key player once again for Bayern this term, featuring 28 times in all competitions, 21 of those appearances coming in the Bundesliga.

The midfielder's drilled finish against Leipzig from a Thomas Muller cutback was his fifth Bundesliga goal in 2020-21, adding to five assists – only Muller (25) and Robert Lewandowski (41) have been directly involved in more for Bayern in the league this season.

Goretzka also leads the way among Bayern midfielders in the Bundesliga for recoveries per 90 minutes (8.98) and is behind only Javi Martinez (2.57) for interceptions, with 2.27 a game on average.

Bayern are reportedly eager to agree fresh terms with Goretzka on a new contract, with his current deal set to expire at the end of next season, and the 26-year-old has indicated he is ready to commit to the club.

"I feel very comfortable here," he said. "Bayern has helped me a lot in the last few years to take the next step in my career. That is why the tendency is clearly towards Bayern."

Hansi Flick hailed his side's "mentality" after they moved seven points clear at the Bundesliga summit with a 1-0 win over RB Leipzig on Saturday. 

Leon Goretzka's third goal in his last four top-flight games proved the difference at the Red Bull Arena as Bayern took a significant step towards a ninth consecutive Bundesliga title. 

It marked the 62nd consecutive match in which Bayern have found the back of the net, setting a new record in Germany football since the Bundesliga was founded in 1963. 

Bayern did not have it all their own way against Leipzig, who had 14 shots to their nine, and Flick acknowledged his side had to use all of their mental strength to claim all three points against their second-placed hosts. 

"It was a top game and Leipzig showed why they are right up there," he told Sky. "We were on the trigger right from the start. 

"We didn't play forward as we would have wanted, but the goal was played out nicely. Leipzig caused us some problems, but the morale and mentality of my players is really excellent."

Goretzka's goal was created by Thomas Muller, who has now been involved in 11 goals in his last 10 Bundesliga games (four goals, seven assists). 

The 31-year-old has not played for Germany since November 2018 after being deemed surplus to requirements by Joachim Low.

However, there have been growing calls for him to be recalled for the rescheduled Euro 2020 at the end of the domestic season. 

Flick praised Muller for his "sensational" campaign, but said he did not want to influence Low, who he was assistant to between 2006 and 2014.

"I don't have to interfere," he added. "Thomas Muller is playing a sensational season. He can be important for other teams too, but in the end it has to be decided by Jogi. 

"He pushes his team-mates again and again, also in training. I am glad that we have such players in our ranks."

No side leading the Bundesliga by at least seven points after 27 games has failed to go on and win the title, but goalscorer Goretzka is refusing to get carried away.

"There are still 21 points to be awarded," he said. "It was a big step, but not the decisive one."

Bayern host Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday before welcoming Union Berlin to the Allianz Arena in the Bundesliga four days later.

Bayern Munich took a giant stride towards a ninth consecutive Bundesliga title as Leon Goretzka's goal sealed a 1-0 win over nearest rivals RB Leipzig on Saturday. 

Hansi Flick's side, who were without top goalscorer Robert Lewandowski after he sustained a knee injury on international duty with Poland, are now seven points ahead of second-placed Leipzig, with seven games remaining. 

A fifth straight Bundesliga win was secured seven minutes before the interval, Goretzka powering home after smart play by Thomas Muller – a German-record 62nd consecutive match in which they have scored. 

Leipzig came close to securing a point on a number of occasions in the second half, but their eight-game unbeaten league run – and possibly their title hopes – ultimately came to an end at the Red Bull Arena.

Despite doing much of the pressing in the early stages, Leipzig were unable to trouble Manuel Neuer in the Bayern goal. 

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting fizzed wide midway through the first half before Bayern went ahead with their first shot on target in the 38th minute. 

Thomas Muller pulled the ball back to Goretzka, who thundered into Peter Gulacsi's top-left corner from 15 yards for his fifth Bundesliga goal of the campaign. 

Gulacsi got down well to paw away Leroy Sane's volley from outside the area as Bayern threatened to extend their advantage before the interval.

Dani Olmo twice went close straight after the break, while Neuer superbly tipped over Marcel Sabitzer's long-range drive. 

Muller was denied by Gulacsi late on, but it mattered little in the end as Bayern held on for a vital three points with the minimum of fuss. 

Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe have been tipped to join Real Madrid.

But could Romelu Lukaku swap Inter for Madrid?

Madrid are reportedly keen on the in-form star.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID TRACKING LUKAKU

Real Madrid are interested in Inter star Romelu Lukaku, according to the Telegraph via Mundo Deportivo.

LaLiga champions Madrid have been heavily linked with Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe.

But Madrid are ready to bid for Lukaku, who is also reportedly wanted by former club Chelsea and Spanish giants Barcelona.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca reports Atletico Madrid will not lower their asking price for star midfielder Marcos Llorente, who has been linked with Manchester United as well as City. Atletico will only begin negotiations if his £103million (€120m) release clause is triggered.

- Cuatro says Madrid do not want Cristiano Ronaldo to return from Juve as Mbappe and Haaland are their primary targets. United and PSG are both interested in Ronaldo.

Liverpool and Chelsea are chasing Madrid midfielder Martin Odegaard, claims Diario AS. Odegaard is currently on loan at Arsenal, who want to make the deal permanent.

- ASRomaLive.it says Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette is wanted by Serie A side Roma, who are also eyeing Torino captain and Milan target Andrea Belotti.

Barca, Juventus and PSG are lining up to sign City veteran Sergio Aguero, reports Marca. Aguero is out of contract at season's end. Inter and Chelsea have also been linked.

- Fabrizio Romano says Madrid are still leading the race to sign Bayern Munich's soon-to-be free agent David Alaba, who has also been linked with Barca, Liverpool and PSG.

- Bundesliga champions Bayern are working to extend Leon Goretzka's contract, according to Romano.

Liverpool have set their sights on Torino right-back Wilfried Singo, claims Tuttosport. The 20-year-old has also caught Milan's attention.

Hansi Flick paid tribute to coaches Toni Tapalovic and Miroslav Klose after Bayern Munich earned a 3-1 win over Werder Bremen on Saturday.

The Bundesliga champions extended their lead at the summit to five points thanks to goals from Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski at Weser Stadium.

The first of those came via a corner routine that saw Thomas Muller's near-post flick-on headed powerfully home by Goretzka.

Speaking after the match, Flick revealed that goalkeeping coach Tapalovic and assistant Klose came up with the set-piece.

He said: "It was a safe and more than deserved victory that could have been bigger. 

"We implemented what we set out to do, to have a good position on the pitch and to put our opponents under pressure. 

"I'm particularly pleased that we took the lead with a corner kick, and Toni Tapalovic and Miro Klose came up with something. That is thanks to them and a compliment to their work."

However, Flick was not impressed with the late concession of a consolation goal, which saw Bayern's high line exposed.

He added: "Of course the goal annoyed me. But our back four and the team in the entire defensive network did very well, we hardly allowed any chances. 

"I am very satisfied with the result, compliments to the team."

Goalscorer Goretzka echoed his manager's sentiments, expressing both delight over the well-worked nature of the opening goal and frustration over Werder marking the scoresheet.

He said: "It was a convincing performance. It's not easy in Bremen because we've struggled [there] over the past few years. 

"The opponent was very deep, so of course a goal like that [the corner] is good. We had a good plan in possession of the ball, so we were able to prevent the counterattack very well, except at 3-1, which annoys us a lot because we wanted to play to zero."

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."

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."

Bayern Munich returned to winning ways in the Bundesliga as Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry both scored twice in a convincing 5-1 win over Cologne.

After returning to domestic duties following their Club World Cup success in Qatar with a home draw against Arminia Bielefeld, the reigning champions slipped to a 2-1 loss away at Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend.

However, a 4-1 thrashing of Lazio in Champions League action in midweek proved the catalyst for a first league triumph at their Allianz Arena home since January 30.

Lewandowski's first goal helped Bayern ease into a 2-0 half-time lead and while Cologne briefly threatened a comeback, the returning Thomas Muller made an immediate impression off the bench, providing the assist that allowed the competition's leading scorer to take his tally for the campaign to 28.

Like Muller, substitute Gnabry had an impact on his comeback, the Germany international tucking away a pair of routine finishes as the hosts eased clear in the closing stages.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting had opened the scoring with his first league goal for the club, heading in an inviting cross from Leon Goretzka, who then went on to set up his side's second before the break.

The midfielder waltzed his way beyond Rafael Czichos before laying the ball off as goalkeeper Timo Horn came towards him, allowing the ever-ready Lewandowski to roll it into the net.

Cologne failed to even muster an attempt as the first half proved to be one-way traffic, yet they were gifted a route back into the game when hesitation between centre-back pairing Jerome Boateng and David Alaba allowed Ellyes Skhiri in to produce a delicate lofted finish over the advancing Manuel Neuer.

The goal caused a brief wobble, yet the 64th-minute arrival of Muller - back after overcoming coronavirus - helped steady Bayern, the substitute teeing up Lewandowski to restore the two-goal cushion with a shot on the turn.

Dominick Drexler hit the post from a tight angle after robbing possession from Neuer before Gnabry's four-minute brace, the second of which was set up by the outstanding Goretzka with another delightful delivery into the area, added a touch of gloss to the final scoreline.

 

What does it mean? Bayern remain clear at the summit

Bayern's recent blip had allowed the chasing pack – led by RB Leipzig – to close the gap at the top of the table. Flick's side have already lost more Bundesliga games in 2021 (two) than they did across the entirety of the previous year.

This win is therefore most welcome in what has suddenly become a tighter-than-expected title race, but Flick – who made 44 appearances for Cologne during his playing career - will be concerned at the careless defensive lapse that allowed Skhiri to give the visitors a slither of hope.

Duo back to boost Bayern

While COVID-19 had kept Muller away, Gnabry had not featured since the Club World Cup final due to a thigh issue. The latter only had 13 touches during his goalscoring cameo, but the availability of the pair helps add further strength in depth, even if the fixture congestion eases in March.

Defensive cracks raise concerns

Bayern had conceded 31 goals prior to this game, their highest tally through 22 league games in a campaign since 1991-92. The chance of a clean sheet disappeared when Boateng and Alaba dithered over who was going to attack a loose ball on the edge of the penalty area, in the end neither bothering to take control of the situation.

What's next?

Bayern have a rare week between fixtures, giving them time to prepare for the visit of Borussia Dortmund next Saturday. Cologne, meanwhile, will be hosting Werder Bremen the following day.

Leon Goretzka is hopeful Bayern Munich team-mate Jamal Musiala will commit his international future to Germany following the midfielder's latest eye-catching display.

Musiala marked his second Champions League start with a long-range strike in Bayern's emphatic 4-1 win over Lazio in Tuesday's last-16 second leg.

At 17 years and 363 days, he is the youngest Englishman to score in the competition and the second-youngest player to net in the knockout stages after Bojan in 2007-08.

However, despite representing England twice at Under-21s level, reports suggest the youngster plans to pledge his allegiance to Germany at senior level.

Asked about Musiala's international future following Bayern's win at the Stadio Olimpico, 29-cap Goretzka told Sky Sport Germany: "I hope he chooses Germany!"

Having already become Bayern's youngest-ever Bundesliga goalscorer in September, Musiala also now tops the same list in the Champions League with his fourth goal for the club.

The Stuttgart-born prodigy scored from his only shot against Lazio and Goretzka was impressed by what he saw.

"He was extremely happy to play from the start," he said. "We tried to make him play freely and not worry too much. Joshua [Kimmich] and I protected his back and he did well."

Musiala's strike came after Robert Lewandowski had opened the scoring for Bayern with his 72nd Champions League goal.

That moved the prolific striker ahead of Real Madrid great Raul in the competition's all-time list of scorers and behind only Lionel Messi (119) and Cristiano Ronaldo (134).

Leroy Sane then added a third and played a key part in Bayern's fourth, which was turned into his own net by Francesco Acerbi, before Joaquin Correa pulled one back.

Germany winger Sane played more key passes (two) than any Bayern player and also contested the most duels (17) of any player on the field.

It is the third game in a row Sane has been directly involved in a goal and he is glad to have found his feet following a big-money move from Manchester City last year.

"I'm an attacking player and want to set impulses upfront," he said. "I want to help the team. Today I think I did quite well, but I'm not getting carried away.

"We were there from the first minute. Hansi [Flick] and the coaching staff pointed out to us before the game that Lazio would make mistakes if you put them under pressure. That worked right away."

With his latest strike, Sane has now been directly involved in 10 goals in his last 10 Champions League appearances – seven goals and three assists.

Hansi Flick expects Bayern Munich to be "especially motivated" for their return to Champions League action and insists he makes no excuses for the team's recent dip in form.

Die Roten followed a comeback 3-3 draw against strugglers Arminia Bielefeld with a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt over the weekend.

Those results have seen Bayern's lead in the Bundesliga trimmed to just two points, with RB Leipzig now within striking distance in second place.

On Tuesday, Bayern continue the defence of their European crown with the first leg of their last-16 tie against Lazio in Rome, a match head coach Flick expects to focus some minds.

"I'm not someone who looks for excuses. The first half was not good against Bielefeld and Frankfurt. We had a lot of games, but other teams did too," Flick told a pre-match news conference.

"We need to be in top form in the Champions League. These are special matches for us and I'm expecting the team to be especially motivated.

"We have an idea of how we want to play. We want to start showing that from the start of games. I have complete confidence that the team will do that on Tuesday."

One of the few positives Bayern could take from the Frankfurt defeat was the return of Leon Goretzka, who has now recovered from coronavirus and a minor injury.

The midfielder helped contribute to an improved second-half showing after coming on as a half-time substitute and Flick intends for Goretzka to start against Lazio.

"You can't take it for granted coming back from an illness like that. He'll play from the start," he added.

"We'll see how long it can hold out. We hope he can perform like he did in his 45 minutes against Frankfurt. He's good for our game."

Flick also confirmed centre-back Niklas Sule will travel to Rome on Tuesday, adding: "We have a few players carrying knocks, Niklas Sule is one of them. 

"We gave him a recovery day today and he'll travel tomorrow."

Leon Goretzka and Javi Martinez were not part of the Bayern Munich squad that departed for the Club World Cup on Friday.

Bayern caught a flight to Qatar after their 1-0 victory over Hertha Berlin, which was secured by a deflected first-half strike from Kingsley Coman.

Hansi Flick's side kept a clean sheet thanks to Manuel Neuer's seven saves but they looked vulnerable on the counterattack with Joshua Kimmich anchoring the midfield alone at the Olympiastadion.

Goretzka and Martinez were absent following positive coronavirus tests and they did not travel to Doha with their team-mates.

"We have to look from day to day how things are going for both of them," Flick said.

"Leon is looking a little better, Javi will probably not make it. If not for the first game, then maybe for the second."

Bayern take on Al Ahly on Monday and will contest either the third-place play-off or the final against Palmeiras or Tigres UANL three days later.

The European champions left Germany after opening a 10-point advantage at the Bundesliga summit, though a missed penalty from Robert Lewandowski in the first half against Hertha meant the match was tighter than expected.

"You could tell it would be fiercely contested. Pal Dardai's team fight for every square centimetre," Thomas Muller, who set up Coman to become the first player to reach double figures for goals and assists in the Bundesliga this season, told DAZN.

"We should definitely have scored one or two more goals, so it was a close run thing in the end.

"You can't celebrate in every game. What is striking is that the clean sheet is becoming more and more common."

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