For a player who turns 30 later this year it is fair to say that it has been a long time coming. Given the relentlessly upward curve of his form over the past couple of seasons however, Bayern Munich's has indubitably earned his belated debut call-up for Brazil. Selecao coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, suitably impressed by the centre back's seamless transition from the role of defensive coordinator at Borussia Mönchengladbach to virtually flawless back-row stalwart with the record champions, has named him in the national squad for the five-time World Cup winners' friendly against England in early February. Naturally enough, Dante is thrilled at the prospect but, ever the consummate professional, he will be more preoccupied with club business in the interim.
The best is arguably saved till last on Matchday 20, with the late Sunday kick-off pitting Bayer Leverkusen against Borussia Dortmund. Bayer are second in the table, eleven points down on leaders FC Bayern and, in the wake of a goalless draw at Freiburg, now just one ahead of the visiting champions. For their part, Dortmund have got off to a flier in 2013, following up on their 5-0 thumping of Bremen with an untroubled 3-0 home success against Nuremberg. They are unlikely to find the job quite so straightforward at the BayArena however against a Werkself who have upped their game considerably since the sides' first meeting in the early weeks of the season, when Borussia hit them for three without reply.
Following hot on the heels of the English website revamp and the launch of a Polish version, the Bundesliga now has its own dedicated Japanese-language platform. Made to measure for the German top flight's rapidly-expanding fan base in Japan, the new website will focus predominantly on news and features pertaining to the Far Eastern nation's similarly growing contingent of Bundesliga representatives - Inui, Uchida, Usami et al. GOAL! has a report from Frankfurt on the launch of the new venture, at which Nuremberg's Hiroshi Kiyotake was present to lend a helping hand.