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DFB Cup Round 1
Stadion der Freundschaft, Cottbus
  • 90'+3 Berkan Taz
FC Energie Cottbus
1 : 3
FC Bayern Munich
  • 32' Robert Lewandowski
  • 65' Kingsley Coman
  • 85' Leon Goretzka
  • 90'+3 Berkan Taz
  • 32' Robert Lewandowski
  • 65' Kingsley Coman
  • 85' Leon Goretzka
Cup opener in Cottbus

Kovac: The first round is always tough

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The journey to Berlin begins once more as FC Bayern kick off their 2019/20 DFB Cup campaign with a first-round clash at FC Energie Cottbus on Monday evening (follow the action via our live text commentary). There is a long way to go before the final in May and Niko Kovac is expecting “a tough day’s work” in the opening clash away at the fourth-tier side. 

It’s a classic meeting of David and Goliath as a lower league club meets the defending champions, and for FCB their role is clear. “Of course we’re favourites,” coach Kovac stressed while also warning that the tie is a simple task “only on paper. We know how tough the first round of the cup always is and we know how tough it is to play in Cottbus.” The 47-year-old is fully aware his side cannot simply turn up and expect a result. Rather, they will have to work hard.

Old teammates Niko Kovac and Pele Wollitz

If Bayern heed this advice there should be little standing in the way of a place in the second round. They are also aware of that fact in Cottbus, which is why Energie coach Claus-Dieter ‘Pele’ Wollitz is not banking on an upset. However, the 54-year-old is expecting his team to do everything to “keep the differences as small as possible by putting in an improbably high level of effort”. His players should also have “the courage to get forward”. 

And Kovac knows that is coming. “I know Pele,” the Berlin-born boss said of his former Hertha teammate from 1993/94. “I know his style and I know exactly how he wants his boys to get forward.” Energie will also likely have no other option but to seek salvation in attack. Following injuries to Robert Müller and Ibrahim Hajtic, the Cottbus boss only has one recognised centre-back available for the cup clash.

Niko Koavc
“We have to prove ourselves again – every one of us: the coach, the team, the club. We have the first opportunity to do that on Monday. We know how tough the first round of the cup is, regardless of where you play.”

Bayern also hold the advantage in this regard with a fully fit team bar the absence of Javi Martinez, who misses out with a knee injury. Summer signing Lucas Hernández has travelled with the squad to Cottbus on Sunday but is unlikely to feature after just one week training with the team. As it is, few people would bet against Bayern enjoying a successful opening cup fixture. “We have to prove ourselves again, and we have the first opportunity to do that on Monday,” Kovac stated.