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Niko Kovac: Liverpool exposed Bayern Munich’s “limitations”

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Bayern Munich’s 3-1 loss was disappointing for everyone associated with the club, especially Niko Kovac. 

Getty Images for FC Bayern

Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac was obviously disappointed in his team’s performance as the Bavarians dropped a 3-1 decision to Liverpool in the Champions League yesterday.

As captured by Football365.com, the 47-year-old coach was complimentary toward Jurgen Klopp’s side after the game.

We were up against very, very strong opponents. I’d like to congratulate Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp. They were the better team over the two matches. We kept the contest open until Liverpool’s second goal. You saw a set-piece can be decisive in a match like this.

It was Virgil van Dijk’s header off of a corner that proved to be the game-winner, but Bayern’s coach was also disappointed in how his team performed against the Liverpool’s defensive corps.

They closed us down well. We didn’t manage to play calmly and set up (Robert) Lewandowski, that’s why it was a deserved defeat. Our opponents attacked very early and at a high pace. We tried to use our full-backs to attack. We didn’t succeed because our opponents did a really good job, whereas we didn’t have our best day.

In the end, it was Liverpool’s ability to attack and expose Bayern’s “weaknesses” that was the difference in the tie according to Kovac.

Liverpool are a top team. They were finalists last year and are among the top teams in the Premier League. They exposed our limitations.

SportBild captured a more emotional response in which Kovac expressed his feelings on the team’s overall dissatisfaction with the result:

We have the right to be disappointed. We are bitterly disappointed. We deserved to lose today. In two games Liverpool was the better team.

As for other reactions to the loss, the assessments were all relatively similar. Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic was complimentary of Liverpool, but also lamented his squad’s assertiveness on offense per FCBayern.com:

We weren’t able to build up pressure at any time. We never managed to get our fans completely behind us. We have to congratulate Liverpool, they turned in a very good performance, they were just better. Liverpool were more physical. Usually we have this dominance and possession. We didn’t manage today. We never camped out in our opponents’ half and never created chances.

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, whose own miscue helped to the Liverpool’s first goal, also criticized the offense’s lack of prowess on the day.

The victory wasn’t undeserved today. We lacked punch up front, we didn’t create enough chances. Taken altogether the result is okay, even if it hurts. We were highly motivated, we were fired up, the attitude was right. It would have helped to take the lead when it was 1-1. The goal from a set-piece at an awkward moment settled it.

Finally, center-back Mats Hummels assessed that Bayern just never was able to establish itself in a frantic contest.

It was a very scrappy game until Liverpool’s second goal. There wasn’t a lot of action at either end, both teams were very cautious. We struggled to get into the game. Liverpool took their first chance to score the opener, we leveled with our first chance. Liverpool’s second was a bit of a blow to our confidence. Liverpool were the better team then. It was all very tight until that goal, even if it wasn’t a great match.

The result will certainly sting for Bayern, but there is no rest for the weary as a Bundesliga date with Mainz 05 awaits the club on Sunday. An international break is set to commence after that fixture and Kovac will no doubt be looking to map out his strategy for the team to capture the league title and DFB-Pokal moving forward.