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International break

The stars’ schedule for the next ten days

A World Cup without France would be very, very hard to imagine, at least according to Franck Ribéry. “That would be a catastrophe for us, for all the people and for all of France,” the European player of the year said a few days ago. Crunch time has now arrived as Ribéry and his France team-mates take on Ukraine in a do-or-die double-header on Friday in Kyiv and Tuesday in Paris. “We have to play the way we always do. We mustn’t be fearful nor put pressure on ourselves,” the superstar urged.

Ukraine go into the meeting as underdogs but still fancy their chances, especially as the team spearheaded by former FCB man Anatoliy Tymoshchuk finished only a point behind England in their qualifying group. Ribéry is looking forward to the reunion with his ex-Bayern team-mate and has already spoken to Tymo, he revealed. “But obviously I’m hoping it finishes well for us.”

There is no time for Mario Mandzukic to relax either, as he pursues his dream of helping Croatia seize one of the last remaining tickets to Brazil at Iceland’s expense. The Croats travel to Reykjavik on Friday, with the return in Zagreb next Tuesday. After a patchy qualifying campaign, Croatia finished some way off group winners Belgium, but Iceland proved a surprise package and beat both Slovenia and Norway to second spot in their group.

By contrast, Germany qualified for the World Cup some time ago and are now already busy with fine-tuning. Joachim Löw’s team start their preparations with two top-quality games, away to Italy in Milan on Friday and England in London next Tuesday. “They’re both classy opposition,” stated captain Philipp Lahm, who is joined in the Germany squad by Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller, Toni Kroos, Jerome Boateng and Mario Götze. The Germany party gathers in Munich on Monday. Lahm and Co begin the build-up to the Italy clash on Tuesday with training at Bayern’s Säbener Strasse facility.

Five further Bayern stars are away on international duty in the next ten days, contesting friendly matches all over the world. The rest of the senior squad will train in Munich, with four players currently on the injury roster.

FCB players’ international break schedule

Arjen Robben (Netherlands)
versus Japan on Saturday (in Genk)
versus Colombia on Tuesday (in Amsterdam)

Dante (Brazil)
versus Honduras on Saturday (in Miami)
versus Chile on Tuesday (in Toronto)

Javi Martínez (Spain)
versus Equatorial Guinea on Saturday (in Malabo)
versus South Africa on Tuesday (in Johannesburg)

David Alaba (Austria)
versus USA on Tuesday (in Vienna)

Daniel van Buyten ( Belgium)
versus Colombia on Thursday (in Brussels)
versus Japan on Tuesday (in Brussels)

Training in Munich:
Tom Starke, Thiago, Rafinha, Jan Kirchhoff, Mitchell Weiser, Diego Contento

Injury roster: Bastian Schweinsteiger, Xherdan Shaqiri, Claudio Pizarro, Holger Badstuber