It will be an evenly matched contest- Niko Kovac on Der Klassiker
Written by: Neil Talnikar
The Croat was quite optimistic ahead of Der Klassiker showdown at the Allianz Arena.
With the final seven fixtures to go in the Bundesliga, it wasn’t the most ideal season for defending champions Bayern Munich. A shock 1-3 loss at home to Liverpool in the round of 16 saw them crash out of the Champions League, leaving the fans disgruntled.
Nevertheless, the six-time consecutive winners of the domestic league are currently in a tussle with arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund for the title once again, although only recently surrendering the top position after a frustrating draw against Freiburg.
With just a gap of two points between the title chasers, they meet at the Allianz Arena in what can be called as a title-decider game.
Under the tutelage of Lucien Favre, Dortmund have had a pretty good season and also have a genuine upper hand in the title race. The likes of Jadon Sancho, Paco Alcacer and Achraf Hakimi have all been in their peak forms for Die Borussen this season.
Speaking about their performance, under-fire manager Niko Kovac said, “They’re playing a very good season.”
“It’ll be an interesting game, an evenly-matched contest. How we play on the day will decide it. We really want to win this game. The club, the fans, everyone wants to win this game,” he added during the pre-match conference.
The 47-year-old showed a lot of optimism when asked about the title race saying, “It’s too bad that this season is exciting.”
Despite the Croat’s cheerful comments, Bayern’s defensive frailties are something the fans would be worrying about the most, considering the form of Dortmund attackers. During their last fixture in the DFB Pokal against second-tier side Heidenheim, the Bavarians conceded four goals and had to rely on Robert Lewandowski’s late strike that provided them the cutting edge in the game.
Although Niklas Sule was sent off during the game, Kovac will be relying on his services against the mighty Dortmund. “I see it like this: attacking is art, defending is craft,” he said.
“You have to convince the players with arguments. I always tell them the same thing but they have to implement it. Of course, it can make you mad but you just have to keep going. Everyone makes mistakes, that’s human.”
Ahead of Der Klassiker showdown at the Allianz Arena, Bayern received a mixed injury update which saw Corentin Tolisso resume first-team training after a long time on the sidelines whereas veteran Manuel Neuer could be in contention to start, after missing out on a couple of games with a calf injury.
Meanwhile Arjen Robben and Alphonso Davies are out for the fixture, Kovac confirmed. “[David] Alaba trained and I hope he’s ready for Saturday. Lewy’s a bit sick. Neuer had a stress test today which went ok. He didn’t train with the team but I’m still optimistic,” he added.
Published: Fri Apr 05, 2019 06:45 PM IST