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Bait and switch? Cunning Kovac has tricks up his sleeve for Liverpool

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The manager may be plotting some surprises for this week’s UCL clash, as he may be hiding a king or two — King Coman and King Franck — up his sleeve.

Liverpool v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

After the first leg of their Champions League clash ended in a 0-0 draw, Bayern Munich manager Niko Kovac needs every advantage he can get for this week’s matchup with last year’s runner up, Liverpool FC and Jürgen Klopp.

Given the opposing manager’s previous history with Die Roten, Kovac may come into Wednesday’s game needing to shake up the lineup. Since Thomas Müller is suspended for the whole Round of 16 and Joshua Kimmich also out for the second leg, Kovac will need the Bayern squad performing at 100% to stand a chance against a Klopp-led Liverpool side that just thrashed Burnley 4-2 on the weekend.

But apparently Kovac may have more than health and luck on his side. According to Bild, Kovac has been mulling over the idea of starting Kingsley Coman in the game this Wednesday. The 22-year-old French winger has been battling injury problems his whole career at the Allianz, recently recovering from a hamstring injury he picked up against Hertha Berlin in late February.

Kovac has been considering starting him, but has some things to consider before making his decision. Firstly, Coman has returned from this injury quickly, with a turnaround of just over three weeks. The injury prone winger has not fared well in major competitions when coming off injuries, and after sitting out against Wolfsburg, he may not be match-fit in time. The other thing to consider was his lackluster performance against Liverpool in Merseyside in the first leg. He make little impact, registering only one shot all game and not making a single key pass.

Coman hasn’t appeared on the score sheet since a game against Augsburg on February 15th, when he managed two goals and an assist. In fact, the young Frenchman has managed a total of just 4 goals and one assist across 16 matches in the Bundesliga, UCL, and Pokal.

However, Kovac needs every advantage he gets. If Coman is injured, Franck Ribery is a suitable replacement, having just completed an assist hat-trick this weekend against Borussia Mönchengladbach. Although the media speculates that Coman may make a surprising return, starting either Frenchman would be a surprise to Klopp. In addition to this, the idea of Jerome Boateng starting at right-back to stand in for Kimmich just shows Kovac is willing to try anything to advance to the quarterfinals.

Bayern haven’t been knocked out of the Round of 16 at the Allianz since 2011, when they were knocked out by the Inter Milan team that beat them in the final the year prior. It won’t be an easy test. However, if Kovac is creating new ways to gain a tactical advantage and get inside Klopp’s head, the Bavarians have a chance to move along down the road to Madrid.