Robben ruled out
Bayern set sights on last 16
“We have the chance to get through with a win. We have to win!” Niko Kovac was brief and straight to the point as he laid out the objective for the Champions League group game against AEK Athens on Wednesday evening (live on ticker and free Webradio from 21:00 CET on fcbayern.com). A victory would take Bayern to ten points and, coupled with a simultaneous win for Ajax at Benfica, would secure their place in the last 16 with two games to spare. But even if Ajax lose, the next round will be within touching distance.
For that reason, the Bayern boss is focussing fully on AEK and is not thinking about the weekend’s showdown with Borussia Dortmund. “This match is very important,” stressed the 47-year-old. “It won’t be any easier than it was in Athens. That was a hard-fought battle and I’m expecting the same in Munich.” The Reds laboured to a 2-0 win in the reverse fixture two weeks ago.
Make your own luck
On top of that, the Munich men are currently “lacking easiness and confidence”, as Joshua Kimmich put it during Tuesday’s press conference. “We’re not getting the rub of the green you need at the moment. We need to work for that and force it – that doesn’t happen by itself,” admitted the Germany international, who like his coach is demanding a win. “We want to win the match in a convincing manner so that we regain confidence,” he explained.
There’ll be at least one added absentee for Bayern. Arjen Robben has been ruled out due to a knee injury, while James Rodríguez is doubtful with a calf problem. Kovac will again be without long-term absentees Thiago, Corentin Tolisso and Kingsley Coman, although the latter has taken the next step towards his comeback this week.
However, that shouldn’t deter the record German champions from their goal. “We want to win the group and we’re strong favourites. We want to keep a clean sheet and we need to do the business up front,” added Kimmich, who also referred to the good mood in the camp and the excitement ahead of the match. “It’s a Champions League game, so you don’t need any extra motivation.” The prospect of reaching the last 16 only adds to that.