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Kovac acknowledges the good and bad, as Bayern Munich depart the US

Niko Kovac felt Bayern Munich’s defense needs some work, but with a full squad at last at his disposal, he is confident results will be better. Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery meanwhile, are all ready to go.

FC Bayern Munich v Manchester City - International Champions Cup 2018 Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The International Champions Cup and with it Bayern Munich’s summer tour of the United States have now come and gone. The preseason results have not exactly been scintillating — a 3-1 victory over Thomas Tuchel’s PSG followed by losses to Juventus and Manchester City (2-0 and 3-2 respectively), but the atmosphere around the club seems much more positive than it did when Carlo Ancelotti traveled with the team back from Asia a year ago (also winning only one game).

Kovac looking forward to a full squad

For new head coach Niko Kovac, the latest game left something to be desired, but he is content with the overall course of the friendly matches with his very youthful squad. Speaking about the 3-2 loss to Manchester City, Kovac said (SportBild),

By and large, the spectators saw a spectacular game with a result that we are not happy with. We did many good things moving forward. But we committed too many easy, individual mistakes moving backwards that led to chances and goals.

Kovac sees plenty that the team can work on in preparation for the season ahead, which will commence officially on August 13, when Bayern meet his former team Eintracht Frankfurt for the German Supercup. Kovac said (TZ),

There was a lot of good, and the bad we’ll work on. When everyone is on board, we’ll have completely different firepower. We don’t take this game very seriously.

Specifically looking forward to the Supercup draw between the Bundesliga champion and DFB-Cup winner — in which Kovac himself spectacularly defeated Bayern — he said, “We want to win the first title; myself personally, too.”

Robben and Ribery astonishingly fit

For Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, among the most prominent members of Bayern’s preseason squad who did not travel to the World Cup, the string of friendly matches have been a valuable tune-up to the regular season. The two veterans have put in some impressive performances already, Robben scoring the go-ahead goal yesterday against Manchester City in vintage Robben-fashion.

The Dutchman is optimistic about the new season. “We’re off to a good start,” he commented. Robben shrugged off the two friendly defeats as “not dramatic at all” and felt that the goals Bayern conceded were “gifts.” “It was a good week. We worked well,” he concluded.

Robben felt that he and Ribery can contribute a lot to Bayern as long as they stay healthy. He said, “If injuries stay away, we’re still very fit. Then we are still young!”

His battery mate Ribery agreed about their drive: “Arjen and I have a lot of experience. We’re professionals; we’re always hungry.”

Whether it was a sign of Kovac’s tactical flexibility or perhaps just a case of necessity, Ribery played the part of attacking midfielder against Manchester City, but not for the first time. After the game, he mused, “I haven’t played as a 10 for a long time. But I’ve often played there in my career, at Marseille and on the national team. It was funny, but nice.”

Kovac indicated that he will use Robben and Ribery regardless of their age. All that matters is skill: “There are only good and less good players — and both of them are really good, no matter what age they are.”

Bayern Munich now have two weeks to prepare for the first title of the season with a full squad. On August 13, Eintracht Frankfurt awaits.

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