Man Utd check out Frankfurt defender

David MoyesManchester United scouting team were in Germany last night watching highly-rated Bastian Oczipka as they search for a replacement for Patrice Evra.

It has been reported in numerous football blogs that the 25-year-old is high on the list of potential candidates to replace Evra.

The Eintracht Frankfurt left-back has performed solidly this season, turning in performances that are reminiscent of Evra’s most fruitful United campaigns.

The German has been in inspired form in the Bundesliga this season and the Reds sent a scout to his Europa League match against Porto to get a first-hand look.

James Smith, United’s new head of technical scouting, identifies transfer prospects based on core attributes and statistical contribution and is believed to have alerted Moyes to the defender.

After applying some basic football algorithm, it’s clear that Oczipka is one of the best left-backs in the game: averaging five tackles or interceptions a match, as well as having low figures for fouls and errors.

Going forward, he has created 31 chances in the Bundesliga and is averaging around two key passes a game.

In comparison to Luke Shaw, the current starlet of English football, Oczipka’s stats make far better reading. Shaw has created just 18 chances and is averaging less than one key pass a match, however both players boast a 78% passing accuracy.

While Shaw has age on his side, it is a well-known fact that he is a Chelsea fan and various news outlets have the Blues as favourites for his signature. Meanwhile, Oczipka could be available at a cut price due to his contract expiring in 2015.

He is represented by SportsTotal, an agency who also represent United targets Toni Kroos and Marco Reus. Their managing director Sascha Breese was spotted with Moyes at a Bayern Munich match last month.

Neuer guards against complacency

Manuel Neuer has expressed his concern that complacency could get the better of Bayern Munich when they host Wolfsburg at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday (Bayern Munich 2/11, draw 6/1, Wolfsburg 12/1 – 90 minutes with bet365).

The Bavarians have made a 100 per cent start to the new season, winning all four Bundesliga games and six in all competitions, and three points against the Lower Saxony side would strengthen their hold on top spot in Germany (Bayern Munich 1/4 – Bundesliga outright with bet365).

Fresh from a 2-0 away win at Schalke, Jupp Heynckes’ men must go again for the first home match of Oktoberfest and Germany goalkeeper Neuer said it is imperative that the players are mentally prepared.

“We have to try and keep up our rhythm,” he told the official club website.

“We can’t sit around in seventh heaven thinking it’ll all just take care of itself from now on. We have to put in the work day after day. We can’t be lulled into a false sense of security. We know Wolfsburg are difficult to beat.”

Franck Ribery missed the trip to Schalke with a strain but is fit again and gives Heynckes another attacking option to an attacking unit which has already scored 14 goals in four matches.

Lahm demands Bayern response

Philipp Lahm is confident Bayern Munich can bounce back from last season’s heart-wrenching end to a trophyless campaign and rule again in Germany and Europe (Bayern Munich 4/5 – Bundesliga outright – bet365).

The Bavarians saw their hopes of a Bundesliga title triumph shattered by back-to-back winners Borussia Dortmund and were comprehensively beaten by the same opponents in the DFB-Pokal final in May.

A 5-2 mauling in Berlin came just seven days before more heartbreak on penalties against Chelsea in the Champions League final on home soil.

Jupp Heynckes has attempted to stop the rot by bringing in a raft of new signings, including big-money buy Mario Mandzukic from Wolfsburg.

“The arrival of players such as (Claudio) Pizarro and others gives us the option of using two formations. I know Pizza from the past, and I know how well he can play off a central striker. He and (Mario) Mandzukic are both great in the air,” Lahm told the club’s official website.

“We have lots of options now, (Xherdan) Shaqiri included. At the back, Dante means there’s more competition. (Mitchell) Weiser can play anywhere, and we have (Tom) Starke as a back-up in goal.”

Lahm said the players had to show character to respond from last season and finally get rid of the hurt.

The Germany defender added: “It all looks good on paper, but all of them have to prove themselves on the pitch – and not just the newcomers, also the players who were regulars last season.”

Bayern start the new Bundesliga season on the road against Greuther Furth on August 25 (Greuther Furth 7/1, draw 7/2, Bayern Munich 2/5 – 90 minutes).

Kroos keeps faith in Germany

Germany flagToni Kroos has not lost any belief that Germany can compete at the 2014 World Cup and believes the national side’s Euro 2012 experience will benefit them (Germany 7/1 – 2014 World Cup outright).

Die Mannschaft crashed to Italy in the semi-finals in Poland and Ukraine and will now focus their efforts on the qualifiers for the Brazil showpiece in two years’ time, starting in September.

The three-time European champions were cast as the big dangers to eventual winners Spain but fell at the last-four stage in a huge blow to Joachim Loew’s aspirations.

The 52-year-old has insisted he will not be ripping the squad up and Bayern Munich midfielder Kroos is confident the foundations are in place for a future generation to challenge the world’s top sides – if not in South America then at Euro 2016 in France (Germany 7/2 Euro 2016 outright).

“It was a long season, especially for the Bayern players, but we showed that we are absolutely among the top teams,” he told Sport1.

“This will also be the case after the tournament.”

He added: “The coach could change two or three positions and there was never a loss of quality. I think we have progressed a bit further, but it is important that we eventually win a title.”

Low backs Schweinsteiger to make a difference

GermanyGermany boss Joachim Low admits that Bastian Schweinsteiger is not yet fully fit but expects him to play a full part in Euro 2012 (Germany 3/1 Tournament Outright with bet365).

The Bayern Munich midfielder struggled with injuries for large parts of the Bundesliga season and his absence in the Bavarian ranks coincided with a dip in their form.

He is also vital to Germany’s cause, having made 90 appearances for the national side, scoring 23 goals and contributing 30 assists.

Low selected the 27-year-old in the knowledge that he was carrying an injury and it is debateable whether or not he will play in Germany’s friendly against Israel on Thursday (Germany 1/5, Israel 14/1, draw 5/1 Match Prices with bet365).

He has a hematoma in the calf which is causing him discomfort but, despite the problem, Low insist he will be fully fit and raring to go when the Germans kick off their campaign against Portugal on June 9.

“He is not always training with the team, as you have to see how far he can go and how well he can deal with the pain,” he said.

“But he will have the necessary physical strength and power for the tournament.”

Germany are second favourites behind Spain to win the event but must emerge from the so-called ‘group of death’ if they are to progress to the latter stages in Poland and Ukraine (Germany 1/2 To Qualify with bet365).

As well as the Portuguese, the three-time European champions will play Holland and Denmark in the group stage, so there will be no easy games and they will have to dig deep to progress.