Bayern survive scare to remain on track for last 16

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Niko Kovač couldn’t have asked for more after his Bayern side made it three wins out of three in the Champions League this season, beating Olympiacos 3-2 in Piraeus on Tuesday night. That is “the maximum you can achieve”, summarised the coach in his post-match press conference, and therefore he was “pleased” with his side’s haul. With a six-point cushion from third place in Group B, Kovač and his players have every right to believe they’re “on course for the last 16” in Europe’s premier club competition.

However, anyone who looked closely at Kovač could see there was also a sense of relief in his comments. The Greek side – roared on by their frenetic home support – gave the Reds a real fight. “They made us work over 90 minutes in a great atmosphere here at the stadium,” said the 47-year-old. “We had to battle hard.” As they did in their previous three games against Augsburg, Hoffenheim and Tottenham, Bayern had to come from behind.

Conceding too many goals

“The problem is we always have to score three goals. It’s annoying that we conceded two again,” criticised captain Manuel Neuer. After Youssef El-Arabi had given the hosts the lead (23), Bayern once again had Robert Lewandowski to thank for setting them on the path to victory. The Pole netted a brace (34, 62) to put the Munich men in front before Corentin Tolisso added another goal (75), which meant that Guilherme’s reply for Olympiacos four minutes later did not change the result.

“We’re playing too carelessly,” commented Karl-Heinz Rummenigge after the game, urging the team to be “self-critical” despite their comfortable situation in the competition. Sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić also felt there was a lack of dominance in Bayern’s play: “It didn’t look like we were in control. We didn’t play the way we can.” Bayern therefore know what they have to work on, and they have the chance to implement that on Saturday when they host newcomers Union Berlin. Unlike in Europe, things haven’t gone all FCB’s way in the Bundesliga, with Kovač’s men currently sitting in third place.

Targeting top spot in the league

“We’re very lucky that despite our failings in the last two games, we’re still only a point off the leaders,” pointed out chairman Rummenigge. “On Saturday we have the chance to perhaps go top. That’s where Bayern Munich expect to be and we have to fulfil that.”