Niko Kovac wants Bayern Munich to repeat their defensive performance from the Liverpool game when they return to Bundesliga action against Hertha Berlin on Saturday.
Bayern claimed a goalless draw at Anfield on Tuesday, keeping the likes of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane at bay in a tense Champions League last-16 first leg.
But the Bundesliga champions have been less impressive at the back against domestic opponents – failing to close out a clean sheet in Germany since the turn of the year, even as they have closed the gap to leaders Borussia Dortmund to three points.
Having seen what Bayern can do against Liverpool’s formidable frontline, Kovac sees no excuse for them not to recreate that display at home to Hertha.
“The matches in Europe have a very different meaning, but we have to go again in the Bundesliga,” he told a pre-match news conference.
“We can take a lot of positive things from the game against Liverpool two days ago and we can catch up [with the top of the table] with a win, then Dortmund must respond the next day.”
— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) February 21, 2019
Of the need for another disciplined defensive performance, Kovac added: “It’s not all about setting up with four, five or six in defence. Against Liverpool, the whole team worked well defensively.
“I expect consistency and discipline at the back. We have to do in the Bundesliga just as we did against Salah and Firmino. If we can do that, it will be very difficult to score against us. Whether we like it or not, that’s what we have to do.”
The Bayern coach is also keen to ensure complacency does not set in against Hertha after facing down esteemed Premier League opposition.
“We have to learn from the past,” Kovac said. “We lost to Hertha [in September] because we made mistakes. Then Borussia Monchengladbach is in two weeks [on March 2].
“Every game is difficult, everyone always gives 100 per cent against us. We always have to give everything, too. We need to be confident but do not look back, look at what’s coming. We want to be successful until the international break.
“We’re still in the running in all three competitions and we want to keep it that way. Only wins count and that’s what I’m expecting against Hertha.”
Kovac confirmed that Mats Hummels missed training on Thursday with a cold, while Leon Goretzka continues to recover from the injury that kept him out of the Liverpool match.
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