Kovac′s ruthless Bayern exact revenge on Frankfurt | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 12.08.2018
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Kovac's ruthless Bayern exact revenge on Frankfurt

Niko Kovac's first match in charge of Bayern Munich ended the same way as his last at Frankfurt, with a trophy. Even under new management Bayern look too hot to handle, writes DW's Michael Da Silva in Frankfurt.

They say revenge is a dish best served cold, and Bayern Munich were merciless as they laid the ghost of Berlin to rest in ruthless fashion.

Robert Lewandowski, Frankfurt's tormentor-in-chief at the Commerzbank Arena, celebrated each of his quickfire first half double in front of the same group of agitated Frankfurt fans, pouring cold water over the pre-match optimism that had consumed Frankfurt on this balmy summer's evening.

The Pole's clinical third provided a strong indication that the Bavarians, even under new management, are going to need to implode in dramatic fashion if they're not to waltz to an seventh consecutive Bundesliga title next year.

Kovac tweaks old system

For Niko Kovac, the man who masterminded that memorable victory over his future employers barely three months ago, it was another hugely impressive result. The temptation for any new coach is to attempt to announce his arrival by springing a selection surprise, but Kovac avoided any such antics by ensuring his tenure began with a smooth transition from what had gone before.

But tactically, there were early signs that his Bayern will focus on turning defense into attack more urgently. One of his key principles is exposing opponents quickly when they have many players committed, and in Frankfurt Arjen Robben could be seen encouraging Joshua Kimmich to release the ball sooner after he had won it at the back. This could well be something we see more of from Bayern in the forthcoming campaign.

Defensive issues brewing

Frankfurt were blunt without their Croatian World Cup star Ante Rebic, who came off the bench in the second half when the result was long since decided.

For their new coach Adi Hütter, there's much work to do to make them competitive again as they look to improve on last season's sixth place finish. Besides a decent 15-minute spell at the start of the game they were passengers, Hütter must make them harder to beat and more clinical.

The hosts wastefulness let Bayern off the hook, but there were signs that if Bayern do stumble into problems this season, it will be because of a defense that has been creaking for some time.

Mats Hummels, who was lucky not to be sent off for an excessively forceful lunge on Mijat Gacinovic in the first half, is having to adjust to the fact his peak is gradually disappearing into the rear view mirror. And Joshua Kimmich, for all his qualities as an attacking force, displayed more of the defensive indiscipline that has plagued his game for much of this calendar year, including at the recent World Cup.

Robert Lewandowski (Getty Images/Bongarts/A. Pretty)

Robert Lewandowski's treble set Bayern on their way to a big win

Bayern are a stronger team when Jerome Boateng is fit, but that is not a given these days. Kovac will need a settled defense to be successful on the biggest stage and how he addresses these issues – now and in the next transfer windows - could be the measure of his success.

He must also look to maintain a harmonious dressing room, and avoid at all costs the mutinous scenes witnessed under Carlo Ancelotti almost a year ago. But at 3-0 down long before the hour mark, each of Frankfurt's substitutes high-fived their former mentor as they galloped past him to limber up. The warmth towards Kovac was clear, and he will be aiming to build a similar synergy at Bayern.

On the whole, it was a hugely encouraging night for Bayern and Kovac at his old hunting ground. Sterner challenges will follow in the league and especially the Champions League, but there's no doubt that the new era has started with promise.

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