Angel Di Maria pens open letter to Manchester United

After completing a £44.3 million (€63 million) move from United to PSG, Di Maria wrote an open letter on Spanish writer Guillem Balague’s official website. He apologised for his lack of success with the English giants.

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To Manchester United,

I write this note to thank all the Manchester United family for the great support received during the year I’ve been part of this club.

When Manchester United chose me as part of their team I felt extremely honoured because I knew what this club means and how it trusted me.

 Nevertheless, I’m aware things didn’t work as we all expected and believe me, I feel really sorry about it. However in the career of a football player sometimes the unexpected and unwanted may happen.

I can guarantee you it was not for trying. I did my best but football is not like maths: often a lot of things out of our control affect the way we feel and the way things turn out. I am sorry it did not work out as I would have wished in this amazing huge club.

I want to give special thanks to all the directors and management of Manchester United as well as to every member of the staff and colleagues as they gave me all their support. Also a special mention to all the fans who always trusted me and showed me their respect and love.

Now is time to move to PSG but the glorious Manchester United club will be forever in my memory.

Wish you all the best in the world.

With best regards,

Angel Di Maria.

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Around the World in Snippets

Angel Di Maria has completed his move from Manchester United to Paris Saint-Germain and immediately set his sights on winning next season’s Champions League.

Meanwhile, Memphis Depay, 21, has told manager Louis van Gaal that he wants to succeed Angel Di Maria in the number seven jersey.

John Terry believes the Blues will be the first team in seven years to retain the Premier League title.

Newcastle captain, Fabricio Coloccini, proclaimed his love for the club after signing a new contract until 2017.

Tottenham’s Premier League preparations have suffered a setback after German authorities blocked their attempt to fly home early from the Audi Cup. Spurs are keen to make a move for QPR’s England striker Charlie Austin, 26, who would cost around £15m.

Sunderland have signed midfielder Yann M’Vila from Rubin Kazan on a season-long loan with the option of a permanent deal. But, Sunderland’s loan move for QPR midfielder Leroy Fer is off after the Netherlands player failed a medical.

Former Inter Milan midfielder Alessandro Cannataro, 20, says he is ‘evaluating’ offers from a host of Premier League clubs after completing a trial with Leicester City with Crystal Palace and Watford also interested.

Aston Villa have pulled out of a move for Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor. Tim Sherwood has decided to cancel the deal despite the forward having already completed a medical and discussed personal terms.

Inter defender Danilo D’Ambrosio has turned down a move to West Ham. The Hammers had agreed a fee of £9m for the full-back but failed to agree personal terms with the player.

Former Liverpool and Senegal forward El Hadji Diouf, 34, who now plays for Malaysia’s Saba, has said he wants to enter politics when he retires from football.

Colombia’s attacking midfielder Juan Fernando Quintero, 22, is being tracked by Premier League newcomers Norwich City.

Ukraine striker Andriy Yarmolenko, 25, has told Dynamo Kiev’s chairman he will not renew his contract amid continued interest from Stoke.

Wolfsburg are looking for some defensive options for midfield – and are interested in Bayern’s Sebastian Rode who may be surplus to requirements in Bavaria after the arrival of Arturo Vidal.

Lyon have rejected a second bid from Tottenham for Clinton N’Jie. Mauricio Pochettino’s men offered £9m with manager Hubert Fournier valuing the forward at £15m.

Around the World in snippets

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore says he is not bothered whether rival managers shake hands, insisting that visible animosity is preferable to a staged display of friendship.

Manchester United have made another bid for Tottenham striker Harry Kane a couple of days ahead of the start of the new Premier League season.

Goalkeeper Victor Valdes, 33, was conspicuous by his absence as Manchester United players modelled their new training kit at Carrington on Wednesday.

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, 23, will have a scan on a suspected hairline fracture of his left fibula, amid fears he is set for another lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Real Madrid could be persuaded to part company with striker Karim Benzema, but Arsenal will need to break their transfer record and bid at least £45m for the 27-year-old Frenchman.

Asier Illarramendi has been told he does not have a place within the Real Madrid squad this season which could pave the way for the 25-year-old midfielder to move to Liverpool.

David De Gea’s popstar girlfriend Edurne Garcia, seems to have inadvertently confirmed the 24-year-old Manchester United goalkeeper’s transfer to Real Madrid.

Javier Hernandez has received a $10m million offer from an unknown MLS club, and has been given 24 hours to decide his future.

Arsenal striker Serge Gnabry will join West Brom on loan until January and an option to extend the deal until the end of the season.

Manchester City’s goal of the season award did not go to the likes of Aguero, Silva or Toure. Instead it has gone to England Women’s international Toni Duggan for her spectacular strike against Chelsea last year.

Manchester United trio Juan Mata, David de Gea and Ander Herrera were spotted having a stroll around the town of Altrincham on Wednesday on a break from training.

Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge has posted a video of himself on Instagram running and kicking and heading a ball as he continues his comeback from injury.

Everton are in talks with Italian side Genoa over a move for French defender Sebastian De Maio. Genoa want €9 million (£6.2m) for the 28-year-old. Everton and Tottenham are monitoring Keisuke Honda who has asked to leave AC Milan.

Alexandre Lacazette is set to end speculation over his future by extending his Lyon contract in the coming days. Schalke are ready to sign Napoli’s Gokhan Inler for a fee of up to €6m (£4m). The deal is imminent.

International Champions Cup

Gonzalo Rodriguez's first-half goal was the difference as Fiorentina beat Premier League champions Chelsea 1-0 on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge.
Gonzalo Rodriguez’s first-half goal was the difference as Fiorentina beat Premier League champions Chelsea 1-0 on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge.

Fiorentina beat Chelsea 1-0 in the final match of the International Champions Cup competition  after a goal from Gonzalo Rodriguez.

John Terry was the only certain regular to feature from the opening whistle for Jose Mourinho, while Kurt Zouma and Oscar also started. Ruben Loftus-Cheek was handed the start in midfield, while Monaco loanee Radamel Falcao began the match up front.

Around The World In Snippets

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  • Nigeria manager Sunday Oliseh visited Liverpool’s Melwood training ground on Wednesday in a bid to lure Jordon Ibe away from playing for England and instead committing to the Super Eagles.
  • Liverpool are understood to be in talks with Fiorentina over the transfer of striker Fabio Borini.
  • Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere’ latest injury is much worse than originally thought with the England international suffering a hairline fracture of the left fibula, which could rule him out for up to two months.
  • Angel Di Maria will be unveiled as a Paris Saint-Germain player on Thursday evening, the club have confirmed Tottenham are plotting a move for QPR striker Charlie Austin with Daniel Levy prepared to offer a loan player in return for the former Burnley forward.
  • City have been given a potential fitness worry ahead of the start of the Premier League as Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri and David Silva were all sent home from training after suffering with a virus. All three missed the club’s annual awards ceremony, City Live, in an unwanted disruption to their build-up.
  • Yann M’Vila is reportedly at Sunderland for talks over a loan move but Leroy Fer is said to have failed his medical with the Black Cats.
  • Bakary Sako is having a medical at Crystal Palace ahead of sealing a move from Wolves. The midfielder has already agreed personal terms with Alan Pardew’s side.
  • Real Madrid defender Alvaro Arbeloa is considering a move to MLS. The defender is not expecting much game time at the Bernabeu due to Danilo’s arrival and competition from Dani Carvajal.
  • Roma have contacted Real Madrid about a loan move for full-back Fabio Coentrao. The Serie A side want a temporary deal with an option to buy.
  • Roma striker Tonny Sanabria is set to move to Real Betis in Spain.
  • Fluminense supremo Peter Siemsen has sanctioned the sale of 18-year-old attacking midfielder Gerson to Roma, though the player will stay in Brazil until January, when he will meet up with his new Serie A team-mates.
  • Benfica will battle Sporting Portugal for Greece international forward Kostas Mitroglou. The former Fulham striker is in advanced talks with Sporting but Benfica are trying to hijack the move.
  • Athletic Bilbao has been alerted to Asier Illarramendi’s unsettled situation at Real Madrid and are interested in him.

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUALIFIERS

Ajax vs Rapid Vienna
Ajax vs Rapid Vienna
  • Rapid Vienna, the lowest-ranked team in the non-champions section of the draw, advanced to the final qualifying round of the Champions League with a shock 3-2 win over Ajax in Amsterdam, a 5-4 aggregate victory.
  • The result means Sporting Lisbon will now be seeded into the playoff round draw in place of Ajax, alongside Manchester United, Valencia and Bayer Leverkusen. The final seed will be decided after Wednesday’s other qualifiers between Shakhtar Donetsk, CSKA Moscow and Lazio.
  • AS Monaco thrashed Young Boys 4-0, winning 7-1 on aggregate.
  • It was a thrilling 3-3 draw between Molde and Dinamo Zagreb played in Norway.Dinamo progressed on away goals rule as the game ended on a 4-4 aggregate score.
  • Away goals were needed in Cyprus too, as APOEL Nicosia went through despite losing 1-0 at home to FC Midtjylland.
  •    APOEL Nicosia 0 – 1 FC Midtjylland
  •    Molde 3 – 3 Dinamo Zagreb
  •     Ajax 2 – 3 Rapid Wien
  •     Monaco 4 – 0 Young Boys

Around The World In Snippets

  • Liverpool have confirmed that striker Christian Benteke has been handed the club’s iconic No 9 shirt ahead of the new season, worn previously by the likes of Ian Rush and Robbie Fowler.
  • Lazio have told Mario Balotelli’s agent they will take the 24-year-old Liverpool striker on loan this season – but only if they qualify for the group stages of the Champions League.
  • The Reds are braced to have to wait until deadline day before receiving realistic offers for their unwanted stars, such as Balotelli, striker Fabio Borini and left-back Jose Enrique.
  • Arsenal have joined the hunt for Real Madrid’s Russia international Denis Cheryshev. The Gunners are considering making an offer for the 24-year-old who is also interesting Villarreal where he spent last season on loan.
  • Bournemouth have signed St Etienne forward Max Gradel, subject to international clearance, on a four-year contract and for an undisclosed fee. Leicester have agreed a £3.1m fee with Napoli for midfielder Gokhan Inler. The Foxes will hold further talks with the midfielder who is reluctant to join Claudio Ranieri’s side.
  • Norwich manager Alex Neil has reignited his interest in striker Dieumerci Mbokani, 29, after Dynamo Kiev reduced their asking price by £2.5m to £8.5m.
  • A 42-year-old Aston Villa fan, Michael Cappuccitti, from Canada, will travel more than 4,000 miles to watch the Premier League team play Manchester United on Friday, 14 August and then donate his four season tickets to youngsters who cannot afford to attend games.
  • “Self-critical” Liverpool winger Jordon Ibe says he must be looking to contribute a goal or assist in every game he plays for the Reds.

Lyon are brushed aside as PSG claims French Super Cup

PSG confirmed their status as French football’s premier side with an emphatic and convincing win over Lyon in the Trophee des Champions (French Super Cup) in Montreal.

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The capital club have been tipped to make a huge statement in domestic and European football this season and on the basis of their performance yesterday, that suggestion surely must be taken very seriously. After achieving a domestic treble last season by claiming the French league, League Cup, and French Cup, Paris Saint-Germain continued exactly how they ended last season by defeating Lyon 2-0 on Saturday.

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All smiles: Lucas and Silva celebrate another domestic title

Goals from Serge Aurier and Edinson Cavani were enough to see off the league runners-up who offered little in form of a challenge to PSG in the game.

PSG started the match in their preferred 4-3-3 formation, with both Cavani and Lucas Moura supporting Zlatan Ibrahimovic in attack. Lyon mirrored their opponent’s approach, featuring the highly rated Alexandre Lacazette as striker. Lacazette had a sensational season last term but if he is to repeat his goalscoring form, his team mates will need to play much better than they did on saturday.

Lyon continued their poor form in pre-season with another uninspiring performance. They offered little in form of opposition to the capital side. Aurier gave PSG the lead in the 11th minute through the most simple of headed finishes from a David Luiz cross before the Parisiens doubled their lead just six minutes later when Uruguay hit-man Cavani struck. Ibrahimovic looked as impressive as ever and could count himself unlucky not to have scored.

The Lyon coach will know he needs to arrest the slide. PSG can go into the season with plenty of confidence safe in the kniwledge that if the arrival of Angel Di Maria materializes, they will be almost unstoppable in French football.

Around the World in Snippets

Paris Saint-Germain have made signing a new midfielder a priority. The French champions are looking at both Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos and Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets as they target a replacement for Thiago Motta, who will join Atletico Madrid. Meanwhile, Michael Carrick has rejected a move to Paris Saint-Germain. The Manchester United midfielder has been targeted by the French champions as they look to win the Champions League next season.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho says he’s a better manager than he was 10 years ago and the 52-year-old plans to manage into his 70s.

Villarreal are closing in on a deal for Tottenham striker Roberto Soldado. The striker has agreed to move to the Liga side who now just need to agree terms with Spurs.

John Stones’ proposed move to Chelsea is being held up by a sell-on clause in the deal that saw him join Everton from Barnsley. The Toffees will owe £4.5 million if they sold Stones for £30m.

Crystal Palace and Stoke are both interested in signing Juventus striker Fernando Llorente, 30, who is valued at £8.5m by the Serie A champions.

Potters striker Peter Odemwingie, 34, is targeting 10 goals next season after missing the last 11 months with a cruciate knee ligament injury. Stoke chief executive Tony Scholes says the club “get on well” with Barcelona but have Mark Hughes to thank for their exciting signings.

Palace wants to sign Newcastle centre-back Fabricio Coloccini, 33, who has one year remaining on his deal at St James’ Park. Aston Villa chairman Randy Lerner is once again looking to sell the Midlands club, this time to an American company with sporting connections for a fee of £145 million. Villa boss Tim Sherwood faces concerns over new signing Jose Crespo, 28, who injured his knee half an hour into his debut against Nottingham Forest.

Sunderland are in talks to sign Rubin Kazan midfielder Yann M’Vila, 25, as manager Dick Advocaat looks to add to his four summer signings. The Black Cats are also closing in on a season-long loan deal for QPR midfielder Leroy Fer, 25.

Charles Aranguiz has dealt a blow to Leicester’s transfer hopes after insisting he prefers a move to the Bundesliga as opposed to the Foxes. The Premier League side agreed a club-record £10.5million fee with Internacional for Chile midfielder Aranguiz on Saturday, along with a £3million fee for Napoli’s Gokhan Inler. Aranguiz has however ruled out a move to join Claudio Ranieri’s side, instead preferring a move to Bayer Leverkusen.

West Ham will step up attempts to sign QPR striker Charlie Austin, 26, who is valued at £15m, following the injury to current Hammers striker Enner Valencia.

Having taken the Champions League rights, BT Sport are close to securing a deal to show La Liga football on their channels. The Spanish league has been aired on Sky Sports for the last two decades.

Watford head coach Quique Sanchez Flores admits he does not know who will start for his side against the Toffees next weekend.

Bayern pays the penalty as Wolfsburg claims German Super Cup

Pep Guardiola’s poor run in the German Super Cup continued, as Wolfsburg picked up their third major honour. Bayern Munich were few minutes away from claiming Pep’s first win in 3 attempts before Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner’s 89th minute strike cancelled out Robben’s 49th minute strike.

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Bendtner celebrates drawing Wolfsburg level

The first half was fairly unspectacular. Both sides struggled to shake off the rust, with Bayern having issues with the odd formation Pep Guardiola set them out in. Wolfsburg didn’t have it easy either, with their players looking not fully up to speed and taking a long time to recognize just what exactly Bayern were trying to do with their squad.

With only moments left before the final whistle, the Danish substitute striker (Bendtner) got right in front of goal to receive a cross from De Bruyne, and somehow found the crack between Neuer and the near post to stun Bayern and level the score at one apiece. Casteels saved Xabi Alonso’s penalty before Bendtner  scored the decisive penalty slamming the clinching penalty into the roof of the net to send the 30,000 Volkswagen Arena into raptures.

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Wolfsburg: 2015 German Super Cup Winners

Teams:

Wolfsburg: Casteels; Vierinha, Naldo, Klose, Rodriguez; Guilavogui, Arnold; Perisic (Kruse 70′), De Bruyne, Caligiuri (Schürlle 63′); Dost (Bendtner 70′)

Goal: Bendtner (89′)

Bayern Munich: Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Benatia, Alaba; Robben, Müller (Götze), Alonso, Thiago (Vidal 74′), Costa; Lewandowski (Rafinha 72′)

Goal:Robben (49′)

Around the World in Snippet.

Angel Di Maria will reportedly undergo a medical with Paris Saint-Germain after a £44.5m fee – a loss of £15.2m – was agreed with Manchester United. The United flop is in Doha to undergo a medical with Paris Saint-Germain before completing his move to the French giants. The Argentine is expected to pass the examination before penning terms and finalizing the transfer.
Manchester United, however, will not give up on a world record bid for Gareth Bale. Louis van Gaal is still keen to add a star to his squad and has his sights set on an £86 million move for Bale and has reiterated that United need more speed up front if they are to win the Premier League in the next two years. He has given Ed Woodward another deadline to deliver a new signing. The Man Utd boss asked for three transfers to be wrapped before their US tour and now wants Jasper Cillesen signed, and David de Gea sold, before Saturday.

Meanwhile, Rafael is on the verge of leaving Old Trafford for Lyon. The Brazilian, out of favour under Louis van Gaal, is set to have a medical with the French club on Monday and an announcement is expected imminently.
Manchester City is looking to trump their rivals to the signing of West Brom striker Saido Berahino. The England forward is valued at £25 million. Newcastle and Tottenham are the two clubs targeting the West Brom striker.
Chelsea is set to send Kenedy out on loan next season. The former Fluminense man has not been given a squad number and will be sent out to gain experience.

Liverpool are desperate to sign Real Madrid winger Denis Cheryshev this summer and are preparing a bid of £14.9 million for the 24-year-old. The Reds want pace on the flanks after losing Raheem Sterling and Madrid are prepared to sell.
Southampton are looking to beat Liverpool to a deal for Barcelona winger Adama Traore, 19. Everton are also interested in the teenager. The Reds had flown out to Spain to wrap up a deal for the 19-year-old but Roberto Martinez hopes his good relationship with Barca can swing the deal. However, Liverpool’s interest in Adama Traore may come at a cost. The Catalans want an option on Phillipe Coutinho if they are to allow the forward to move to Anfield on loan.

Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane says Arsenal players are more “interested in selfies and six-packs instead of winning Premier League titles”.

Manchester United are facing criticism after unveiling their new shirt for women, which features a plunging neckline. Garry Monk has reiterated that Swansea captain Ashley Williams is not for sale, with Crystal Palace and Everton showing an interest in the defender.

French Super Cup Preview: PSG Vs LYON

This should have been a match between the league champions against the Cup winner. PSG demonstrated their strength and superiority over the rest of the field last season by winning the Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France in the 2014-15 French football season. Lyon has been invited to challenge for the trophy at Saputo Stadium because they finished second in league play.
The difference in the teams’ performances during pre-season has been very wide as Paris Saint-Germain’s 2-0 victory over Manchester United on Wednesday saw Laurent Blanc’s side crowned winners of the International Champions Cup. Les Gones will be hoping for an upturn in form after their disastrous showing at the Emirates Cup last week. An opening 6-0 defeat by hosts Arsenal was followed up by the 2-0 defeat to Villarreal and Lyon face going into the season under a rather dark cloud. Although they were both only warm-up games, it is the manner of the defeat and the way the team played that will cause concerns.
Pre-season form.
PSG
ICC: Manchester United 0-2 PSG
ICC: PSG 1-1 Chelsea (5-6 pens)
ICC: PSG 4-2 Fiorentina
ICC: Benfica 2-3 PSG
Friendly: Wiener 0-3 PSG
Lyon
Friendly: Villarreal 2-0 Lyon
Friendly: Arsenal 6-0 Lyon
Friendly: Lyon 2-1 Milan
Friendly: PSV 2-0 Lyon
Friendly: FC Sion 1-0 Lyon

The Lyon manager knows that to stop this PSG side, his side will need to play better than they did in London where they conceded 8 goals in 2 days without scoring any. He will hope that the added incentive of winning a trophy will motivate his side. “It’s important because there’s a trophy in play and we want to start the season on a positive note,” Lyon manager Hubert Fournier said Friday.
Lyon-PSG is a clash of cultures, with Lyon developing many of its top players through its academy, while big-spending PSG has become a European power in recent years under the ownership of Qatari billionaire Nasser Al Khelaifi by buying up top talent from around the world.
Using many younger players, PSG still managed to post four wins and a defeat in pre-season play, including a 2-0 win over Manchester United in Chicago last week.
“We know we have a team of winners,” said PSG captain Blaise Matuidi. “We want the first trophy of the season and we’ll play to the best of our capacities to win it.”
Fournier was only partly joking when he said the team’s backsides are still red from that spanking.
“We don’t want that to happen again,” he said, adding that PSG is as good or even better, than Arsenal
The roles have reversed for Lyon, which owned Ligue 1 through the first decade of the 2000s. The club won seven straight Ligue 1 titles and two French Cups from 2002 to 2008. They also won the Trophee des Champions seven times.
It has been an exciting summer for soccer in Montreal, with many top stars in town. Premier League champions Chelsea used the Montreal Impact’s facilities as a pre-season training base. The Impact acquired former Chelsea star Didier Drogba. And now there’s the Trophee des Champions.
As of Friday, more than 18,000 tickets had been sold for a stadium that seats 20,800. The first Trophee des Champions held outside France was in Montreal in 2009, when Laurent Blanc, now PSG’s manager, guided Bordeaux to a 2-0 victory over Guingamp before 34,068 at Olympic Stadium.
The Ligue 1 season begins next Friday with PSG facing Lille while Lyon opens that same weekend at home against Lorient.

German Super Cup 2015 Preview: Wolfsburg Vs Bayern Munich

Before now, Borussia Dortmund was seen as the only realistic challenger to Bayern Munich in German football. But following a poor campaign by Dortmund, VFL Wolfsburg are now seen as the team who just might provide a significant threat to the German champion. As Dortmund battles the unknown Austrian Wolfsberg in the second tier of European football, it is the German VfL Wolfsburg who have taken their place as the Bundesliga’s secondary power.
Bayern go into the clash against Wolfsburg as favourites having cruised to the Bundesliga title last season winning the league by a convincing 10 points gap. However, Wolfsburg will be buoyed by their 4-1 demolition of Bayern at home last season with Kevin De Bruyne and Dost both netting a brace in a comprehensive win.
The war of the words between Munich and Wolfsburg has already started, with Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge having accused the club of bending Financial Fair Play rules. Wolfsburg’s Director of Sport Klaus Allofs promptly called Rummenigge ‘out of order’.

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Party Time: VFL Wolfsburg celebrate winning the German Cup
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Normal Service: Bayern Munich celebrates another league title

Their recent success, cannot be simply attributed to their riches as Wolfsburg has always had money but they had often failed to use it wisely. However, since Allofs arrived from Werder Bremen in November 2012, that has changed. Allofs immediately set about stabilising the club. He hired Dieter Hecking as manager, a move which seemed unremarkable but has proven to be inspired and set about a clever tactic in the transfer market, picking up bargains like Daniel Caliguri, Luiz Gustavo and Ivan Perisic.
Allofs’ long term plan paid off last season, as Wolfsburg finished second in the league, thrashed Bayern 4-1 in the process, and won the Cup at the end of the season. It was an achievement made all the more impressive by the fact that a member of their squad, Junior Malanda, had been killed in a tragic car accident.
Recently, they have begun to splash the cash a bit more. Marquee signings like Andre Schurrle and Kevin de Bruyne, though, have been chosen carefully. The fact that Chelsea wished to offload both players meant that neither cost more than £22m. In Bundesliga terms, that is a vast amount of money. In the worldwide market, it’s almost a bargain.
De Bruyne, particularly, has proven to be a stroke of genius. The Belgian was outstanding last season. His 16 goals and 28 assists have awoken the interest of Europe’s top clubs, and if the price is right, Wolfsburg may be willing to sell him to Manchester City this summer and can expect to make a significant profit on the Belgian superstar.
With De Bruyne set to miss the game due to a niggling back injury, this could be the first major test of a Wolfsburg side without the Belgian. Schurrle will be expected to perform at a high level this season as he is under pressure after a disappointing first six months.
For Bayern, meanwhile, the game is far from insignificant. It may not be the most important trophy of the year, but it remains the only domestic title that Guardiola is yet to win as Bayern coach. The Catalan, under immense pressure to deliver in what may be his final year in Munich, understands the significance of that failure.
‘At a big club, a title like this is a small one if you win it, but a big one if you don’t’, he said this week.
Perhaps even more significant, though, is Bayern’s new look midfield. With the departure of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the arrival of Arturo Vidal, Guardiola has embarked on a sweeping and controversial restructuring of the heart of this Bayern team.
Wolfsburg, like Dortmund has tried in the past with relative success, will be ready to spoil the party. New signing Max Kruse promised that his new team ‘will match Bayern on Saturday. Director of Sport Allofs was more reserved, saying: ‘It shouldn’t get too personal, but a bit of sabre-rattling is definitely a part of it’.
This may be the smallest title of the season, but for both Bayern and Wolfsburg, the Super cup is an important first step in what could be a huge season. Bayern do know that regardless of the result, Wolfsburg will be the main challengers to their continued dominance of German football. Tonight, they will look to put them back in their place.