'We aim to stay there'
Sun, 29/09/19, 13:36
Bayern enjoy being back on top
Head coach Niko Kovač was clearly basking in the glow of success after the match at SC Paderborn. "It's always nice when you can look down on the other teams," explained the 47-year-old after the 3-2 away win against the Bundesliga newcomers, which sent the record champions to the top of the Bundesliga for the first time this season. "And we aim to stay there," he continued, instantly throwing down the gauntlet to Bayern's rivals in the title race.
And it was fitting that the Säbener Straße training ground was also bathed in sunshine in perfect late summer weather the following day. In good spirits and full of verve, those pros who hadn't spent a lot of time on the pitch in Paderborn went to work and made sure that Kovač's mood was brightened again, for he couldn't always have been satisfied with the course of Saturday's match. "It went the way I didn't want it to, that we really had to fight hard over the full 90 minutes for three important points," the coach added.
Reds struggle to convert chances
For a long time in Paderborn it didn't look as if the away win could be under threat. In the first half, the record champions created one chance after another, a fact which was also clearly reflected in the statistics with a ratio of 10-3 shots on goal in their favour. The opening goal by Serge Gnabry on 15 minutes, following a fantastic build-up from Philippe Coutinho, was more than deserved. When the provider then turned finisher after 55 minutes, this time after an assist from Gnabry, everything seemed to be going to plan for the visitors.
"In the second half we made it 2-0 and then it felt like we could put the game to bed," said Joshua Kimmich, but then we made "too many mistakes," were too "careless while in possession," and so let the hosts back into the game. Substitute Kai Pröger's goal after 68 minutes came as a surprise and breathed new life into Paderborn.
Confidence boost ahead of Tottenham match
Even when Robert Lewandowski scored his record tenth goal of the season in the 79th minute, Paderborn didn't give up and cut the lead to one goal again through a Jamilu Collins strike just five minutes later. Captain Manuel Neuer's match analysis was clear: "It could have been a lot easier for us. We had a lot of chances and should have converted them. So it was our mistakes that later turned into a problem." His coach complained that the errors "cost us more effort than was necessary, because we could have closed it out in the first half."
But that will all be water under the bridge by the time the decisive Champions League match at Tottenham Hotspur kicks off on Tuesday evening. "We know the rhythm, we're used to it," said Neuer assuredly. With the Bundesliga top spot under their belt, the Reds will travel to London with much more confidence. "I want to win there," Kimmich announced - knowing full well that they have to defend that top spot not only in the Bundesliga, but also in the group stages of Europe's premier competition.