Niko Kovac’s first season as manager of Bayern Munich has been a testing one.
The former Croatia captain excelled as boss of Eintracht Frankfurt, but has found the step up to one of the most lucrative jobs in world football a real struggle.
Borussia Dortmund’s impressive form under Lucien Favre hasn’t exactly helped matters, but Bayern at least cut the lead at the top of the Bundesliga to just three points last night.
Bayern claimed their ninth win in 10 league fixtures away at Augsburg, coming from behind twice to secure a 3-2 win.
Leon Goretzka scored an own-goal within 13 seconds of kick-off, but a brace from Kingsley Coman and a brilliant strike from David Alaba earned Kovac’s side the three points.
But how did Bayern play ahead of their last-16 Champions League tie against Liverpool? Well, not great.
While they claimed a victory, Bayern were sub-par against one of the Bundesliga’s worst teams in 2018/19 – Augsburg are currently 15th.
James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo wrote in his report on the game: “Twice they [Bayern] trailed against lowly Augsburg. Bayern looked horribly vulnerable defensively and Liverpool’s frontline should be licking their lips.”
Ouch. Pearce went on to add that while Manuel Neuer completed 90 minutes, the German goalkeeper was unconvincing throughout.
Coman was the brightest spark for the Bavarian side, but the Frenchman could be out of action for a while after sustaining what appeared to be another serious ankle injury.
Kovac said after the game that the knock was of huge concern to him, saying: “It looks like another tendon issue. It is disappointing because with him in the side we have a different dynamic. But we will find out about the results tomorrow.”
With Arjen Robben injured and Thomas Muller suspended, losing Coman would be a devastating blow.
Bayern would be arriving on Merseyside with just Franck Ribery and Serge Gnabry as options out wide.
The only compensation for Kovac will be Virgil van Dijk’s suspension for the first-leg on Tuesday night.
With neither team at full-strength, it’s set up to be a very interesting tie.