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Bayern want to 'go into international break on a win'

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Full speed ahead for the double: after being knocked out of the Champions League in midweek, FC Bayern’s focus is on the two remaining domestic titles. “There are still two trophies to play for,” commented Niko Kovac. “We’re top of the Bundesliga by a narrow margin and we’re still in the cup. Our clear target is to win these two competitions. That’s what we’ve been working for and we can’t drop off now.”

A victory at home to 1. FSV Mainz 05 on Sunday evening (live ticker from 18:00 CET) would move them above Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table on goal difference again and mean that they go into the forthcoming international break with a “good feeling”, as Mats Hummels highlighted. “If we’re successful in the two competitions we have left, then we can still have a good season,” added the centre-back, a message that was echoed by his boss. “We want to go into the international break on a win,” demanded Kovac.

The Bayern coach gave his players a day off on Friday to allow them to clear their heads following the defeat to Liverpool. The 47-year-old is hoping to see a defiant reaction from his players: “The team have shown throughout this season that they can bounce back from difficult games and difficult periods. They’ve turned their disappointment into many, many wins.”

Kovac expecting “firm resistance”

With Bayern managing to catch up with Dortmund in recent weeks, captain Manuel Neuer described the prospect of a seventh consecutive Bundesliga title as a “huge opportunity”. “We’re back at the top and we want to stay there until the final day of the season,” said Neuer. To do that, they need a win on Sunday against Mainz, who have lost five of their last six league games and have won just one of their last 14 against FCB.

Regardless of those poor runs, Kovac described the 05ers as “a very awkward team”: “They’re coming to Munich knowing that we’ve been knocked out and hoping that might have a psychological impact. I’m expecting firm resistance but we have to break that resistance in whatever way we can. We need to push ourselves, give 100 per cent and win the match so that we can feel relaxed for two weeks.”

Mainz coach Sandro Schwarz confirmed Kovac’s expectations. “We’ll do everything in our power. We feel prepared,” said Schwarz, although he added: “We shouldn’t judge Bayern on their Champions League exit. They’ve won all their recent Bundesliga games and made up the ground on Dortmund.”