Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac has ruled out the possibility of fielding both Philippe Coutinho and Thomas Muller as his side prepare to take on Cologne.
Coutinho returned to fitness in time for Bayern’s 3-0 Champions League victory over Red Star Belgrade before being replaced by Muller in the 83rd minute. Muller made an almost instant impact by scoring in the first minute of stoppage time, but Kovac does not intend to play the attacking midfielders in tandem.
“Muller and Coutinho together in the 10 role would be too attacking. We need a good balance,” he said at a pre-match press conference.
“Never say never, but right now I’d lower the probability.”
Unbeaten this season in the Bundesliga, Kovac reported that his squad were raring to return after their midweek exertions.
“Of course we’ve had that game but Saturday will come down to the mental aspect,” he said.
“We absolutely want to win, that’s hugely important for us, but my players are fit and ready.
“Our opponents in the Bundesliga always give their all and we’ll be challenged from the first minute, but we want to win and remain at the top end of the table.”
Kovac could have a handful of injury worries, however.
“Josh (Kimmich) went over his ankle but everything looks OK,” he said.
“Lucas (Hernandez) has a problem with his ankle too and Kingsley (Coman) has a sore neck, so we’ll have to see how they do.”
Cologne manager Achim Beierlorzer is not resigned to defeat as his side anticipate their stiffest challenge since winning promotion from the second tier.
The Billy Goats have endured a tricky initiation in the Bundesliga, winning only one game thus far and losing three. They now face the reigning champions as they hover just two points from the bottom of the table.
“If it’s about damage limitation, then I’m the wrong man to speak to,” Beierlorzer said at a pre-match press conference.
“That’s not my thing. Naturally, it will be a challenge. But we want to get something from the game.”
After a forgettable season at the Spanish club, the Brazilian was shipped on loan to Bayern, a club Klopp knows very well from his time as Borussia Dortmund manager.
The pair shared a memorable time at Liverpool where Coutinho established himself as a world-class player but it has been downhill for the midfielder ever since his move to Barcelona.
Coutinho revealed that Klopp wished him good luck ahead of a fresh chapter at a big club in a great competition.
“He sent me a message and wished me good luck,” Coutinho told Sport Bild . “He told me that Bayern is a big club and the Bundesliga is a great competition. He said he is very happy to see me there.”
The Brazilian continued to speak highly of his former manager and his impact on Liverpool.
“He is simply an amazing coach, one of the best in the world,” he said.
“He is a true leader. I learned so much from him, especially on a psychological level.
“He always finds the right words, both before the game and during the game, and he always manages to get you back on track with the next opponent.
“He changed Liverpool and made them really strong again. It was a big honour to work with him.”
Bayern Munich‘s new signing Lucas Hernandez has revealed the pressure that accompanies a big-money transfer has not hit him
The former Atletico Madrid man joined the German champions for €80 million after some consistent shows for his former club and an incredible 2018 World Cup.
But Hernandez claimed that he never puts himself under pressure and aspires to live up to the huge sum he was bought for.
“I never put myself under pressure, but I am aware of all the financial effort made by Bayern to bring me in,” he told L’equipe.
“They’ve paid for a defender. Football today is full of these crazy sums, I know the reality. That’s why I worked like crazy and made every effort to get myself match-fit quickly.
“I don’t want to disappoint Bayern or the supporters. I’m on schedule, and I’m almost 100 per cent after two Bundesliga games.
“Bayern did everything to get me, and to make sure everything went well. Of course I will do everything for them.
“I started speaking German pretty quickly. I’m not a complicated person – I’m actually pretty nice. I integrated quickly. My French team-mates have been great.
“There is a strong French culture in Munich, with all the great players who have been here like Bixente Lizarazu, Willy Sagnol or Franck Ribery. He’s an idol here. Bayern is a big club but a small family.”
The centre-back also admitted that he played with a hole in a ligament for six months during his last few months with Atletico.
“It wasn’t easy to leave while injured and without finishing the season,” he admitted. “But I really shot my knee in October and November to go as far as possible with Atletico.
“I played six matches with a hole in the ligament. That’s what the surgeon told me when they operated.”