Niko Kovac has defended his tactics in Bayern Munich’s Champions League defeat to Liverpool after criticism from Robert Lewandowski.
Bayern left Anfield last month with what was widely regarded as a commendable 0-0 draw, but they were second best in Wednesday’s return leg in Munich, losing 3-1 to Jurgen Klopp’s side.
An angry Lewandowski was left with little doubt that the team’s tactics were to blame, saying: “I think we played too deep, didn’t want to make too many risks, and I don’t know why.”
Kovac disagrees with Lewandowski’s assessment, however, and believes that Bayern were simply beaten by the better team.
“The approach was exactly the same as against Wolfsburg or Borussia Monchengladbach [games they won resoundingly] so I cannot agree with the criticism,” he told a media conference ahead of Bayern’s Bundesliga clash with Mainz on Sunday.
“We played against a better opponent who deserved to win.
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“We did not get the support he [Lewandowski] needs. We played against the best defence in the Premier League.
“We can only be as good as the opponent allows and if you have few balls as a striker, disappointment is normal.”
A run of 12 wins in their last 13 league games has lifted Bayern above Borussia Dortmund on goal difference at the Bundesliga summit and Kovac does not believe Wednesday’s disappointment will derail their bid for a seventh consecutive title.
“We’re doing well in both competitions [Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal] and we’ve made up 10 points,” he added. “They are all professionals and they have the quality to turn the disappointment into victories.
“I expect a difficult game. Mainz is an uncomfortable team, but my team has shown that they keep coming back.
“We have to break their resistance and win the game so the players can relax and go to their national teams.”
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