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Liverpool’s visit is career highlight for Bayern boss Kovac

The former Croatia international is excited to face the Reds.

Liverpool’s visit is a personal highlight for Bayern Munich manager Niko Kovac (Nick Potts/PA)
Liverpool’s visit is a personal highlight for Bayern Munich manager Niko Kovac (Nick Potts/PA)

Bayern Munich head coach Niko Kovac admits the Champions League visit of Liverpool is a personal highlight for him but knows nothing other than a victory will suffice.

The former Croatia international adopted a deferential tone, not what you usually expect from the manager of five-time European champions and a team which has a record 28 Bundesliga titles, when talking about their last-16, second-leg opponents.

“I’ve qualified for the World Cup and led Eintracht Frankfurt in the relegation play-off – that was the worst – but tomorrow is a highlight,” Kovac told a press conference.

“The world will be watching us. Everyone’s excited: the players, the coaches, the fans and the media.

“It’s a tough game and the pressure is always on in knockout games but that’s a positive, not a negative.”

A goalless draw at Anfield leaves this match finely-balanced as an away goal for Liverpool would significantly tilt the game in their favour.

However, the onus will be on Bayern, in their own stadium, to come up with a more attacking game plan than the containment approach they adopted three weeks ago.

The German club did not manage a shot on target for the first time since their semi-final, first-leg tie at Barcelona in 2015 and Kovac accepts that is the one area which has to improve.

“What we need to do is be more efficient up front: see the room and take advantage,” added the coach, whose side have scored 11 times in their last two league matches.

“We’ve shown creativity in our recent Bundesliga games, scored plenty of goals but also not taken a lot.

“We need balance, but we also need to win no matter what, regardless of whether Liverpool score.

“They’ve got an advantage if the score, but we simply need to win.”

Liverpool’s front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have scored six European goals between them this season – two fewer than Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski on his own.

However, with Firmino and Mane both got two in Sunday’s win over Burnley Salah is on the worst run – five matches – without a goal of his short Liverpool career.

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is taking nothing for granted, though.

“It doesn’t make me more confident that Mo Salah hasn’t been scoring,” he said.

“It’s not important who scores, we’ll have to watch out for all players.

“At set-pieces they’ve got (Virgil) Van Dijk and Joel Matip as well. We want to stop them getting into scoring positions.

“I think Liverpool will attack, so we’ll have to defend well, but we’ll definitely be more attacking than in the first leg.”

Winger Kingsley Coman and defender David Alaba have both trained this week after missing the weekend’s 6-0 win over Wolfsburg with injury but Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Muller miss out through suspension.

Press Association

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