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“We have to clench our butts!” Thomas Müller, Niko Kovac, and more react to Bayern Munich’s win over Heidenheim

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Bayern Munich’s head coach explained the tactical moves that turned a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead and expressed his frustration that the team still blew it.

Bayern Muenchen v 1. FC Heidenheim - DFB Cup
MUNICH, GERMANY - APRIL 03: Niko Kovac, head coach of Muenchen reacts during the DFB Cup match between FC Bayern Muenchen and 1. FC Heidenheim at Allianz Arena on April 03, 2019 in Munich, Germany.
Bayern Muenchen v 1. FC Heidenheim - DFB Cup MUNICH, GERMANY - APRIL 03: Niko Kovac, head coach of Muenchen reacts during the DFB Cup match between FC Bayern Muenchen and 1. FC Heidenheim at Allianz Arena on April 03, 2019 in Munich, Germany.
(Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

It was far from convincing, but Bayern Munich scraped by with a 5-4 win over Heidenheim at the Allianz Arena to advance to the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal. After being reduced to 10-men and going 2-1 down in the first half, Niko Kovac decided to bring on both Robert Lewandowski and Kingsley Coman at the break and switch from a 4-4-1 to playing with back three comprised of Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, and Joshua Kimmich.

Speaking after the match (via tz), Kovac admitted that he was irritated with his players for letting their 4-2 lead slip. Even when Bayern had gone 4-2 up, Kovac was vociferous on the sidelines, barking orders from his technical area. He explained his tactical considerations and frustration over the blown lead after the match:

The red card canceled out our calculations. We then had to react and switch to a 4-4-1 to reach a certain level of compactness. With the switch to a back three in the second half, we came into the game better, then turned it around. What makes me absolutely livid is that we then couldn’t manage the 4:2 and get ourselves into trouble. It was a wild, an open game, which I don’t like in this form. In the end, we had the tiny bit of luck that you need in the Pokal. I haven’t ever experienced a game like this before.

Bayern Muenchen v 1. FC Heidenheim - DFB Cup
MUNICH, GERMANY - APRIL 03: Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels and Joshua Kimmich (back, L-R) of Muenchen and Marc Schnatterer of Heidenheim react after the DFB Cup quarterfinal match between Bayern Muenchen and 1. FC Heidenheim at Allianz Arena on April 03, 2019 in Munich, Germany.
The back three...
(Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Leon Goretzka commented the high tension in the dressing room at halftime and how Kovac calmed everyone down before introducing the tactical changes he wanted to make (Bild):

First the coach gave us time to calm down. Things were boiling in the locker room! And then he set us up tactically. He discussed tactical things. We ourselves knew that the first half wasn’t good. The adjustment then produced very good results.

Thomas Müller admitted that Bayern struggled in phases of the match, but added that they responded well to a difficult situation. The team will need to take that fighting spirit with them to this weekend’s all important match-up against Borussia Dortmund:

I don’t know where or how I should categorize [the match]. We can’t be happy with the fact that after leading 4-2 we end up 4-4 again. The second half was nonetheless positive, even though it was crazy. The should have gone totally differently after the early 1-0. As for who can best classify this game, I’d perhaps have to ask my wife and family. Now we have to use this moral boost and “clench our butts.” My chest isn’t physically the broadest, but I’m always someone who leads the way. I’m sure that we will win against Dortmund on Saturday.

* In German, “den Arsch zusammenkneifen.” The saying is roughly equivalent “to grit one’s teeth.”

Bayern Muenchen v 1. FC Heidenheim - DFB Cup
MUNICH, GERMANY - APRIL 03: Thomas Mueller of Muenchen celebrates his team's second goal during the DFB Cup quarterfinal match between Bayern Muenchen and 1. FC Heidenheim at Allianz Arena on April 03, 2019 in Munich, Germany.
Muller knows how to fight!
(Photo by Adam Pretty/Bongarts/Getty Images)