Bild has reported that, after training last Wednesday before the crucial game against Eintracht Frankfurt, the Bayern Munich players held a team meeting without coach Niko Kovac present to build solidarity before the decisive final games.
The meeting was led by veterans Robert Lewandowski, Franck Ribery, Thiago Alcantara, and Rafinha. They asked the team to show a united front to subordinate everything else to their major goal: winning the double. They appealed to their teammates to disregard the ongoing discussion about Kovac’s future, questions of tactics, and any personal feelings they might hold.
Bayern’s decisive 5-1 victory over Eintracht the following Saturday, clinching the Bundesliga, put the team’s solidarity on full display. Rafinha had hoped to play, but an injury forced Kovac to replace Leon Goretzka with Renato Sanches. When Sanches subsequently scored, he ran the entire length of the field back to the substitutes so that he could celebrate with Rafinha.
Robert Lewandowski reiterated that message in a new interview with Bild today. When Bild alluded to the Kovac’s future, Lewandowski replied,
That discussion is not a factor for us at the moment. No matter what happens, is written or said — we have to do our job and focus all our concentration on the Pokal final.
At first glance, a team meeting seems like a great way for the sometimes problematic Bayern divas to come together before the two crucial last games of the season. Before the meeting, Bayern had not yet won any trophy. The veteran Bayern players seemingly wanted to remind the others of the most important thing: to bring home trophies for the fans.
Kovac has not managed to dispel rumors of his departure from Bavaria all season. It goes without saying that the constant debate might affect some of the players in a negative way. On the one hand, the fact that the players felt a meeting was necessary in the first place might be seen as a sign that not all is well at Säbener Strasse.
But on the other hand, Bayern beat Frankfurt by a wide margin. If they beat Leipzig this weekend, the meeting can be seen as a great motivator at the end of a tumultuous season. Lewandowski himself in his latest comment reiterated that stance: the team must set aside all distraction and win.