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DFB Cup Round 1
Kehdinger Stadion, Drochtersen
SV Drochtersen/Assel
0 : 1
FC Bayern Munich
  • 81' Robert Lewandowski
  • 81' Robert Lewandowski
Cup kick-off

Kovac taking 'full-strength' side to Drochtersen

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Spirits were high in the final training session at Säbener Straße before Bayern’s DFB Cup first round match on Saturday (live ticker from 9:30 ET). Friday’s session included some shooting practice which the Bayern players enjoyed, egging each other on and producing one or two masterstrokes.

The anticipation ahead of the second competitive game following a long, hard pre-season was plain to see. 91 days after losing in the final in Berlin, FCB’s next cup quest starts with an encounter against fourth-tier side SV Drochtersen/Assel. Coach Niko Kovac is leaving nothing to chance as he looks to avoid a rude awakening.

“We’ve looked at video recordings of the opposition. We’re prepared and we’ll brief the lads,” explained the 46-year-old. “They’ve scored a lot of goals from set-pieces. They’ll certainly be compact and direct,” he reported, adding that “a game against Bayern won’t be like a game in the regional league. I don’t think we’ll allow them too many chances. We’re the clear favorites and we have to play like that.”

Alaba and Gnabry absent

Kovac and his side want to show right from the first round that Berlin is their aim this season. “The final is huge motivation, we want to get there again. It’s a nice trophy and one that I want to hold in my hands again,” he said, recalling his own cup triumph with Eintracht Frankfurt in the summer. That’s why the former midfielder will be taking a “full-strength” team to Drochtersen.

However, that will not include Serge Gnabry and David Alaba, who will both miss out due to injury, while Kovac will make a late decision on Juan Bernat and James Rodriguez, who are both struggling with ankle problems. World Cup winner Corentin Tolisso could make his Bayern comeback, although the 24-year-old is still behind in his training. “This game provides a chance to give him a few minutes,” revealed Kovac.

Neuer in goal for ‘game of the century’

One man who will certainly start is goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. “Manu missed a large part of last season so every game is helpful for him.” And the Bayern captain is fired up. “I’m fully motivated. I’m thankful that I’m fit again and can play. I’ve not been to that area very often so I’m looking forward to the game,” said Neuer, who added he has “very much enjoyed” his last few injury-free months.

As for the hosts, they can hardly wait for the match either. “It’s the game of the century for us,” commented an excited Rigo Gooßen, president of SV Drochtersen/Assel. The Lower Saxony outfit will be doing all they can to pull off a shock. “We can’t underestimate them,” demanded Kovac, who wants to maintain the good mood at Säbener Straße.