Keep it simple to rediscover form, urges Bayern coach

From left: Bayern Munich's Javi Martinez, Joshua Kimmich and Robert Lewandowski looking dejected after the 1-1 Champions League draw with Ajax. Bayern coach Niko Kovac believes his team paid the price for poor passing.
From left: Bayern Munich's Javi Martinez, Joshua Kimmich and Robert Lewandowski looking dejected after the 1-1 Champions League draw with Ajax. Bayern coach Niko Kovac believes his team paid the price for poor passing.PHOTO: REUTERS

MUNICH • Bayern Munich have to "go back to the basics" if they are to regain their dominant early form after being held 1-1 at home by an inexperienced Ajax Amsterdam in the Champions League on Tuesday.

That was the withering assessment of coach Niko Kovac, whose side have gone three games without victory in all competitions, an uncustomary run for the six-time defending German champions.

"We played negatively, our opponent was first to every second ball, we just played too many bad passes, wanted too much, (were) too fast in the build-up, losing confidence," he said, pointing to their Group E opponents as an example to follow.

"We must get stuck into the duels, play fewer bad passes and let the ball flow. (Ajax) showed us how to do it. Now we have to look to display our (true) face again, which saw us win the first seven games."

The Croat admitted Bayern, who remain second behind Ajax on goal difference, had been lulled into a false sense of security after getting the new campaign off to a flyer.

"Maybe everything was a bit too easy. Now we have to roll up our sleeves. I know we did not win three games and we need to focus on the essentials again," he told Sky Sport Germany.

"This was certainly not a good match for us, nobody expected that. But that's football. When you fall, you always have the opportunity to get up."

His captain Manuel Neuer concurred, saying that the team had recently fallen short of the high standards normally expected of the Bavarian giants.

"It wasn't an easy game today, but we've scored only two goals in our last three games and that is not enough by our standards," goalkeeper Neuer told streaming service DAZN.

Kovac had demanded a reaction from his players ahead of the game, and they delivered in furious fashion in the opening exchanges, with Mats Hummels giving the home side the lead after just four minutes with a bullet header from Arjen Robben's inswinging cross.

The visitors worked their way back into the game, however, and were rewarded in the 22nd minute when Noussair Mazraoui linked up brilliantly with Dusan Tadic before lashing the ball past Neuer.

Bayern were unsettled after, with Ajax enjoying the better of the chances in the second half and could have won the tie deep into stoppage time when Lasse Schone's free kick thundered off the bar, leaving coach Erik ten Hag with mixed feelings.

Ten Hag, who would have been the first manager to lead a Dutch side to an away victory over Bayern, was left wondering what could have been.

"On the one hand, I'm really satisfied but, on the other, this was a game we could - and should - have won," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2018, with the headline 'Keep it simple to rediscover form, urges Bayern coach'. Print Edition | Subscribe