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Niko Kovac responds to Rafinha's criticism, says the case is closed

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As several players are injured and one booking away from missing matches, it should be easy for Rafinha to rediscover his spot in the team.

MUENCHEN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 23: head coach Niko Kovac of Bayern Muenchen looks on during the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Hertha BSC at Allianz-Arena on February 23, 2019 in Muenchen, Germany. Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

A week ago, Bayern Munich right-back Rafinha voiced his resentment about not getting enough playing time under head coach Niko Kovac. The Brazilian had to sit through 90 minutes when Bayern beat Hertha Berlin at home on Saturday. He claimed that Kovac was disrespecting him and by not giving him any playing time even though he was doing well in the training sessions. Rafinha said,

Recently the coach is not being respectful to me. I bring my performance in training. It’s hard for me to motivate myself. I train well, but I don’t play any part [in matches].

Rafinha's doubts escalated so quickly that he even thought that his announcement that he would leave the club at the end of the season might be the reason why he was kept as a second string throughout games.

In his television appearance on CHECK Doppelpass , club president Uli Hoeness briefly referred to the incident (Bild):

If we had more top players, we’d have even more discussions. Now even Rafinha is complaining.

Hoeness was in fact present immediately after Rafinha spoke to the press:

I was in the locker room. Something was said [to Rafinha] already then. What’s important is what’s in the locker room.

Kovac himself told the press on Thursday that that there is no sense in keeping the topic open for discussion. Rafinha has already apologised in front of the team and, according to the coach, the case is closed. However, Kovac gave out a warning saying that this is something that should not be happening again.

The topic is thus tabled. That cannot happen in this form.

Since the team is still riddled with injuries, and Joshua Kimmich will be suspended for the second leg of Bayern’s Champions League tie against Liverpool, it is all but certain that Rafinha will see more playing time soon. As Hoeness said, “We need him against Liverpool.”