'We must look ahead with optimism'
Full focus on domestic titles after CL exit
Acknowledging the opposition's performance after a bitter defeat is part of sport. "Liverpool were better and won deservedly," Uli Hoeneß summed up after the 3-1 defeat. "Our own display certainly played a role, but Liverpool's performance was the main reason," Niko Kovac analysed after the Champions League exit. After the goalless draw at Anfield three weeks ago, Wednesday's defeat meant Bayern's 2018/19 European campaign came to an end in the last sixteen.
The Bavarians by no means turned in a poor display. "We were very well-organised at the back for long spells, we only lacked punch up front," said Niklas Süle. Jürgen Klopp's men closed down their opponents "very quickly and early" to stifle their play, explained Kovac. Robert Lewandowski drew a sober conclusion: "We didn't have many chances in either of the two matches, so there are no arguments why we should have gone through."
On a par for long spells
Bayern took their chance when Serge Gnabry's low cross forced an own-goal by Liverpool's Joel Matip after 38 minutes, cancelling out Sadio Mané's opener. Bayern were close to the quarter-finals for a long time. "It was a scrappy game until Liverpool's second goal. There wasn't a lot of action, both teams were cautious," said Mats Hummels.
When Virgil van Dijk's header restored the lead for the visitors after 68 minutes it was a setback from which Munich did not recover. "The goal was a blow to our confidence, Liverpool were the better team then," added the centre-back. Mané's second goal in the closing stages was little more than a footnote.
Bayern failed to make it to the last eight for the first time in eight years. "We have the right to be disappointed," said Kovac: "That's why our players play football: to be in the Champions League." However, it would be wrong to dismiss the 2018/19 European campaign as unsuccessful. FCB finished first in their group, going unbeaten in the first seven Champions League matches for only the third time. In the knockout stages they were drawn to last year's finalists Liverpool, the perhaps toughest challenge in the competition.
Unbeaten in Europe until the return leg
"We must put this season's Champions League campaign behind us and attack next year," said Kovac. His players know how to cope with the setback despite the disappointment. "It was a little blow," commented Hummels: "But I'm pretty sure we want to make up for it as soon as possible." The goal is clear: "We'll try to achieve maximum success and clinch the two domestic titles," demanded the 30-year-old.
The Bavarians next face FSV Mainz, and they will be looking to retain top spot in the league. "We must clear our minds, pick ourselves up and look ahead with optimism. We're on a very, very good run in the Bundesliga, and I hope we can go on like that," said Kovac.