‘We must pick ourselves up and look ahead with optimism’: Niko Kovac urges Bayern Munich players to put Champions League exit behind them and focus on winning the Bundesliga
- Niko Kovac has urged his Bayern Munich stars to focus on winning the Bunesliga
- The German giants were dumped out of the Champions League by Liverpool
- It is the first time in eight years that Bayern have failed to reach the quarter-finals
- However, Kovac’s men are still firmly in the hunt to secure the domestic double
Bayern Munich manager Niko Kovac has urged his players to clear their minds and focus on clinching a domestic double in the wake of their midweek Champions League exit.
Bayern failed to reach the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time in eight years, losing the second leg of their last-16 tie with Liverpool 3-1 at the Allianz Arena following a goalless first-leg draw at Anfield three weeks earlier.
While European honours may have eluded Bayern again, they remain firmly in the hunt for a seventh-successive Bundesliga title ahead of Sunday’s visit of Mainz, while they are through to the last eight of the German Cup.
Niko Kovac has urged his Bayern Munich stars to put their Champions League exit behind them
‘We must put this season’s Champions League campaign behind us and attack next year,’ Kovac told the club’s official website.
‘For now we must clear our minds, pick ourselves up and look ahead with optimism. We’re on a very, very good run in the Bundesliga, and I hope we can go on like that.’
Following two sticky patches earlier this season, Bayern have been virtually irresistible since the start of December, winning 12 and losing one of their last 13 league games.
Although the stinging media criticism that followed Bayern’s Champions League exit suggested otherwise, and with arguably a degree of understatement, defender Mats Hummels described the loss to Liverpool as ‘a little blow’.
Virgil van Dijk scored Liverpool’s second goal as the Reds knocked Bayern out of Europe
Sadio Mane scored a brace in the emphatic win at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night
The 30-year-old added: ‘I’m pretty sure we want to make up for it as soon as possible. We’ll try to achieve maximum success and clinch the two domestic titles.’
Mainz face a mountain to climb if statistics are anything to go by as they have lost 13 of their last 14 matches against Bayern, who have won six in a row at home in the league, and have gone over four hours without conceding a league goal at the Allianz Arena.
Mainz manager Sandro Schwarz claims his players ‘will need everything we’ve got’ to get a result.
‘Bayern have absolutely top players who want to become German champions for the seventh time in a row,’ Schwarz told mainz05.de.
‘We won’t think about their mental situation, we’ll just try to adjust to play at their individual level.’
Schwarz feels it would be wrong to use Liverpool’s performance as a reference point, adding: ‘It’s not like I have a PowerPoint presentation from Kloppo (Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp).
David Alaba and his Bayern team-mates struggle to hide their disappointment after the game
‘Our first big mistake would be to try to do what Liverpool did there. It’s clear that you can analyse and take something from the game, but we can’t use it as a template.
‘You can’t draw comparisons between world-class players individually and Bundesliga players that we have.’
Dismissing Bayern’s defeat to Liverpool, Schwarz added: ‘We need to give everything that we have up our sleeves – performance, intensity, readiness, resistance and stability.
‘You need a quality goalkeeper, a bit of luck, a positive game plan and a lot of efficiency. You need to do everything at a high level.’