If Bayern Munich’s 3-3 thriller against Ajax Amsterdam had you on the edge of your seet after 90+7 minutes, you were not alone. Bayern’s sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic took a moment before he could express his own impressions of the game. They were by no means positive. A frustrated Brazzo explained (FCBayern.com):
Ajax did a really good job, they put us under pressure the whole time. We weren’t able to let the ball do the work and could only shake off our opponents very, very rarely. We had two, three chances in the first 20 minutes but didn’t take them. Then we completely handed over control. We didn’t manage to cross the halfway line; we mustn’t let that happen. It’s positive we levelled the scores and made it 3-2, but we squandered it again; we failed to reward ourselves. It was incredible for the spectators, but we can do better.
Salihamdzic’s comment that Bayern failed “to cross the halfway line” is indicative of a stunning fact: Ajax dominated possession, ending the match with 54% but enjoying around 60% until late in the match. That, it turns out, was apparently part of Kovac’s gameplan. Kovac said,
We had very good transition situations. We didn’t want to run into their counters so much; they finally then ran into our counters.
Kovac was by and large satisfied that Bayern won its Champions League group. Despite the final score, Kovac felt his team had the better chances, and Ajax’s final equalizer should have been disallowed. He said after the game (FCBayern.com and Kicker):
We saw a sensationally good match today, the spectators were treated to a great game. Six goals, two red cards — the third goal by Ajax was in my opinion offside. We advance, but again we didn’t manage to close out the game. It was an advertisement for soccer. I think that we had the better, crystal-clear chances. We should have wrapped it up much sooner.
Kovac was pragmatic about the final result of the game:
Ultimately, we won the group and have taken 14 out of 18 points. I’m satisfied. Everyone thinks that the big names will collect all 18 points. We won 14 and are content. We’re waiting with bated breath for the next round.
Striker Robert Lewandowski, who scored twice, putting him at the top of the goal-scorer’s list, likewise saw both good and bad in today’s game. Overall, he viewed the game as an opportunity for Bayern to analyze its performance and improve:
It was a very offensive game. Fortunately, we’re first, but our positional play wasn’t good today and we have to work on that. We should have been able to score at least two more goals. We have to see what’s lacking in our game and what we can do better in teh future. We’re playing in the Champions League and concede three goals; Ajax had much more possession. We can’t be content, because we won the group, but rather have to see what we can do better.
Salihamidzic on De Jong, De Ligt, and Pavard
Sporting director Salihamidzic also briefly fielded questions about three Bayern transfer targets, two of whom — Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt — were on the pitch today. Regarding the two young Ajax players, Salihamidzic hinted that Bayern was indeed very interested.
Both of them are good players and played a great game. We have to see what we need. We’ll analyze that calmly, but the transfer market will be exciting.
Could the market become so exciting that Bayern make a move in the winter window, as some speculate? We shall see. As for Stuttgart’s Benjamin Pavard, Salihamidzic downplayed the possibility that he might move to Munich sooner rather than later:
Stuttgart is in a difficult situation at the moment. I think that’ll be out of the question.