Niko Kovac has set his Bayern Munich side the task of defending their Bundesliga title as they head into their opening match of the season at home to Hertha Berlin on Friday.
The Bavarians secured a seventh consecutive league trophy in May and the coach insists the goal for the upcoming campaign is to extend that run.
Hertha finished in 11th last season, 35 points behind the champions and having lost nine more matches. Yet despite Bayern’s recent domestic dominance, Kovac does not expect the game to be easy.
“It’s like every year, no-one really knows where he stands,” the 47-year-old said in a press conference reported by the club website.
“(You should not) overvalue the results of the preparatory games. A lot of work is waiting for us on Friday.
“But we play at home, we have the first game of the Bundesliga season and, of course, want to end this with a win. We want to win the title.”
The Croatian boss will be without new signing Ivan Perisic after the winger was ruled out through a yellow card suspension carried over from his time with Serie A club Inter Milan.
Also sidelined for the Bavarians is Spain’s Javi Martinez, who has yet to train with the team after picking up a knock.
In the previous meeting between the two sides Hertha managed a narrow 1-0 victory over Bayern, but in the four meetings before that the Bavarians were unbeaten.
Hertha general manager Michael Preetz believes his side will need to produce something special to beat last year’s champions.
“I don’t even know if there is a team that has caused Bayern difficulties in recent years. We are possibly one of them,” he said.
“We know that we need an exceptional performance.”
Hertha’s new coach Ante Covic was just as cautious, adding: “If you play away against the German champions, you have the heaviest opponent before the start on the first match day.
“Still, the anticipation is great when you open the season and we all start from scratch.”
Bayern Munich signed Ivan Perisic on a season-long loan from Inter Milan on Tuesday.
After four years with Inter, the Croatia winger is returning to the Bundesliga to join the reigning champions on an initial loan deal.
The 30-year-old, who played for Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg before joining Inter Milan in 2015, can become a permanent Bayern player next summer.
Perisic won the domestic double with Dortmund in 2012, before winning the German Cup with Wolfsburg three years later. He has also won 82 caps for Croatia.
See the wide man in action in the video above:
Bayern Munich manager Niko Kovac has confirmed that Inter Milan winger Ivan Perisic will be signing for the German giants very soon.
The German boss admitted that the Croatian’s medicals were completed and the signing will be made official once some of the paperwork is done.
It is believed that Perisic will be joining Bayern on a season-long loan for €5 million and there will be an option to buy for €20m at the end of the loan stint.
Kovac defended the club’s transfer dealings by implying that Perisic was not a second choice after the club failed to land Manchester City winger Leroy Sane.
“He [Ivan Perisic] was at the medical check today. And if all this goes well and the last papers are sent back and forth [with Inter], then he will become one of our players,” he said after his team’s 3-1 win over Energie Cottbus in the DFB-Pokal, according to Goal.
“Regardless of our transfers, there are other clubs that buy players. And I don’t like the way these [players] are handled to some extent when you put them in the second or third category,” Kovac said.
“We should respect each of them. That’s what we stand for and that’s what I stand for. And that’s what I expect from everyone else. Because it’s always easy to criticise someone.
“First you don’t get this player, then you don’t get the other, and then you have an X, Y or Z solution. I don’t think that’s nice. That’s my personal opinion. Maybe some people share this opinion with me.”