Niko Kovac has passed the first test of his marathon run
Mia San Mia, “We are who we are”, have never been in such a worrisome position before. First time they have been questioned for bringing no reinforcement in the summer, hiring a coach with not very credible background, and not getting rid of their aging squad. But new boss Niko Kovac has passed the first test of his marathon run.
Bayern Munich have only 22 members in their squad this season. If you consider injuries to right-back Rafinha, central-midfield duo of Thiago and Corentin Tolisso, and left-winger Kingsley Coman, they’re only left with only 15 outfield players in the squad. And, Bavarians will have to go for a marathon run playing 7 games in 22 days.
Niko Kovac on Bayern Munich’s injury crisis: “We have 16 healthy [outfield] players. That’s enough to fill the bench. Now the players who don’t play that much will come into focus. I’m not afraid, I won’t cry now. With the guys who are fit we will reach our goals.”
— Ronan Murphy (@swearimnotpaul) September 18, 2018
It seems an impossible task for former Eintracht Frankfurt manager Niko Kovac, but he has already passed the first test of his marathon run. His team registered a 0-2 away victory against Benfica in their UEFA Champions League opener.
Bavarians celebrated Thomas Muller’s 100th UEFA Champions League appearance in style as Renato Sanches and Robert Lewandowski earned them a 2-0 victory. Kovac didn’t have much option with deploying his playing XI and trusting his guts he goes for his experienced XI. Only youngster Renato Sanches finds a playing in the playing XI as surprise inclusion.
Niko Kovac on Renato Sanches to Sky: “After Thiago’s injury, Renato’s time had come today. I told him: ‘Just play your style, this is your home.’ We knew this boy could play football. But you always have to keep in mind that a young player has to settle in.” #FCBayern
— Ronan Murphy (@swearimnotpaul) September 19, 2018
It’s difficult to cope with an aging squad especially when it comes to the pace of the Champions League games, but Kovac has fully trusted his aging duo of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. Robben and Ribery started alongside Lewandowski upfront, Sanches, James Rodriguez, and Javier Martinez formed the midfield dynamo, whereas David Alaba, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, and Joshua Kimmich completed the back-four line.
It was a very surprising lineup considering Thaigo, Rafinha, Tolisso, and Kingsley Coman’s injury. Everyone were expecting that Thomas Muller, Serge Gnabry, and Leon Goretzka will find the place in playing XI rather than on bench, but Kovac gone with his guts.
Thankfully, he passed the first test of his marathon run. But, his Bayern Munich side is still under scrutiny. Former Bayern Munich player Lothar Matthaus said as goal reports, “All great teams goes through cycles of success and failure, and Bayern has seen a lot of success in recent years thanks to Jupp Heynckes, Carlo Ancelotti, and Pep Guardiola, so it will be interesting to see if Bayern can defend their title, as they are going under transition, with new coach Niko Kovac.”
He adds, “Since this season, Bayern have increasingly relied on young talents. An example of this is the departure of Arturo Vidal and the commitment of Leon Goretzka. As the first few games have shown, this strategy seems to work and Bayern is currently the league leader.”
But he cautioned, “They can’t rest, because the newly established BVB and revived VfL Wolfsburg are close to their heels. I expect an exciting season.”
So far so good for Mia San Mia. They started brilliantly with lodging off Frankfurt 5-0 in DFL Super Cup, seeing off Drochtersen/Assel 1-0 in DFB Cup first round, and opening Bundesliga season with 3-1 victory over Hoffenheim.
Bavarians also continued the momentum registering 3-0 victory over Stuttgart and defeating Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 in Bundesliga. They also continued the winning momentum winning 2-0 their opening UEFA Champions League fixture, but doubt remains same as Niko Kovac goes for a marathon run.
His Bayern Munich side will play five matches within fortnight. Any other injury can take a toll on their progress and he cannot rely much on old legs of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery in those games. It will only misfire in long-term.
They’ll visit Schalke on 22 September, play Augsburg at home on 26th, travel to Hertha on 29, before returning at home on October 3 in UEFA Champions League fixture against Ajax coupled with a clash against Borussia Monchengladbach two days later.
Of course, Niko Kovac has passed the first test of his marathon run, but I still have my worries with other millions Bayern Munich fans.