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German Super Cup: What to watch out for

Just a few months after Eintracht Frankfurt's shock German Cup win, they face Bayern Munich in a showpiece again. Niko Kovac has swapped sides and there are plenty of new faces, but what will decide Sunday's contest?

Kovac in a different dugout

Plenty are unconvinced by Bayern's April announcement that they'd pinpointed a relatively inexperienced coach, from the lower reaches of the Bundesliga, to follow in the footsteps of Jupp Heynckes, Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola. 

But Frankfurt's oustanding display in beating the Bavarians in last season's cup final owed plenty to their Croatian coach. Kovac's use of Ante Rebic and Kevin Prince Boateng caused Mats Hummels and Niklas Süle all sorts of problems. The Eagles were solid in defense, organized and always ready to pounce on the break, as the second and third goals in the 3-1 win showed.

His task at Bayern is very different, particularly in the Bundesliga where the champions are obliged to play mostly on the front foot. While a win would be little more than a solid start, anything other than that would turn up the heat on the new man. Such is the nature of German club football's top job.

New spine for Frankfurt

Eintracht Frankfurt's Lukas Hradecky (imago/J. Huebner)

Lukas Hradecky is one of several cup winnners to have left Frankfurt

Kovac isn't the only major departure that the cup holders have to cope with. As is often the case, Frankfurt's over-achieving side has been picked off. Four of the eleven who started that match have left the club, including goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky, winger Marius Wolf and midfielder Omar Mascarell. All of them moved to sides that finished higher in the Bundesliga last term. Boateng will continue his nomadic career at Sassulo in Italy.

With Rebic almost certain to miss Sunday's clash after his World Cup exploits with Croatia and new keeper Frederik Ronnow injured, new boss Adi Hütter has to build a new foundation quickly. Lucas Torro, signed from Real Madrid, looks to be Mascarell's replacement while Portuguese forward Goncalo Paciencis will need to hit the ground running.

Goretzka with point to prove

Leon Goretzka on pitch (picture-alliance/SvenSimon/F. Hoermann)

Leon Goretzka joined Bayern Munich from Schalke

Player turnover is much less of an issue for Bayern, all of their matchday 16 are still with the league champions. In a slow summer of transfer activity, the arrival of Leon Goretzka and subsequent departure of Arturo Vidal looks to be the main change to the Bavarians' first team.

The former Schalke man started last season in scintillating form, with his late runs in to the box bringing four goals in his first eight starts. But a niggling injury sustained around the turn of the year provoked a drop in form, just at the time Bayern were confirming his future move.

Though far from identical in style, Goretzka, 23, is closer to Vidal than any of Bayern's other central options, with the possible exception of Renato Sanches. His box-to-box style and vision could well be critical to his new club this year. But with competition for places so stiff, he'll want to get off to a strong start and lift a first trophy at club level.

Boateng's future unclear

Bayern Munich's Jerome Boateng (picture-alliance/firo/J. Fromme)

Jerome Boateng could be on his way out of Bayern Munich

Jerome Boateng's role at Bayern is somewhat less clear. The 29-year-old has been a key member of Bayern's side for seven years but now appears to be seeking a new challenge. After he reportedly turned down Manchester United, Thomas Tuchel's Paris Saint-Germain appear to be favorites. 

But Bayern are not especially well stocked at center back, with Süle and Hummels the only other naturals in that position. If Boateng does leave, Bayern will surely sign a replacement, with Benjamin Pavard very much on their radar. But if that doesn't happen, or until it does, Boateng must still very much be in Kovac's thoughts. The Croatian coach must keep his player's mind on the job.

Hütter with tough act to follow

Eintracht Frankfurt coach Adi Hütter (picture-alliance/dpa/A. Anex)

Adi Hütter has big shoes to fill at Eintracht Frankfurt

As numerous coaches have found out before him, following in the footsteps of an over-achiever can be a poisoned chalice. But for Hütter it was a risk worth taking in order to take the step up from the Swiss league.

"He's doing a superb job so far under tricky circumstances," Frankfurt's sporting director Bruno Hübner told the club's website recently. "What really impresses me is how he connects with his players. He does everything with so much enthusiasm, and it's fun to watch. The players are also willing to adapt to his new philosophy."

Hütter will hope those words ring true. Another giant slaying would do his long-term prospects no harm whatsoever.

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