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Niko Kovac backs Bayern Munich to find another gear in the Bundesliga

The Croatian took over at the Allianz Arena following the retirement of Jupp Heynckes.

Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac believes his squad are ready to step things up again as they look to deliver a seventh successive Bundesliga title.

The Croatian took over at the Allianz Arena following the retirement of Jupp Heynckes, and has a tough legacy to live up to.

In the Super Cup, Bayern coasted to a 5-0 win against Eintracht Frankfurt, Kovac’s former club.

However, last weekend the champions needed a late goal from Robert Lewandowski to finally see off Regionalliga outfit SV Dochtersen/Assel 1-0 in the DFB-Pokal.

The new Bundesliga campaign starts on Friday night, with Bayern at home against Hoffenheim.

Kovac, who guided Frankfurt to success in the German Cup last season, insists his Bayern players will meet the challenges in front of them head on once again.

“Of course I want to win the championship, but I am also happy there are competitors (for the title) out there – competition makes things more interesting,” Kovac said at a press conference.

“When our opponents are good, then we have to be good or to be even better, that can only help us.

“I’m convinced that my team will have a solid outing tomorrow, because we are physically and technically at an extremely high level.

“However, we will really have to go to the limits and cannot take this game lightly.”

Lewandowski had scored a hat-trick in the Super Cup.

However, in an interview this week, the veteran Poland forward spoke of how he felt a lack of support from the club during a testing personal spell towards the end of last season.

Kovac, though, hopes both the player and his new Bayern squad can put the issues firmly behind them.

“I was not here last season, so I cannot evaluate if he was supported enough or not,” Kovac said.

“Generally speaking, everybody needs love, appreciation and support. He didnt feel that way, and that is the way it is.

“But what matters now is he is fresh and motivated. He has trained and played extraordinarily well, scoring four important goals for us already.

“You can see that he is absolutely determined to give everything for this club. I’m happy about that, so are his team-mates and the fans.”

Hoffenheim, meanwhile, coasted past Kaiserslautern in their cup tie, running out 6-1 winners.

However, Die Kraichgauer have won only two of their previous 20 clashes with Bayern in the Bundesliga.

Coach Julian Nagelsmann knows exactly what to expect when the new league campaign – which will be his last before moving on to take charge at RB Leipzig – kicks off.

“Bayern have a very good tactical plan under Niko Kovac and are tough to crack,” Nagelsmann said at a press conference.

“If you give Bayern too many spells of possession, then the pressure can really mount.”

Julian Nagelsmann will take over at RB Leipzig at the end of the season (Nick Potts/PA)

Nagelsmann added: “It will be very difficult, but we are optimistic.

“We have considered a few ideas. A victory is within the realm of possibility.”

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