Created on 2019-08-15 at 15:30 PM
90 days after the last Bundesliga match and celebrating their 29th German championship title, FC Bayern kick off the new Bundesliga campaign at home to Hertha Berlin on Friday evening (follow the action in English from 2:30 pm ET with our exclusive fcbayern.com live updates). The record champions contest the official Bundesliga restart fixture at the Allianz Arena for the seventh time in a row. Bayern have won all of their last six restart matches, and they aim to extend their streak against Berlin.
"It's like every year: nobody really knows where they stand," Niko Kovač said before the match. The results from pre-season friendlies must "not be overestimated," stressed the Bayern coach: "Many teams struggled" in the first round of the DFB Cup. Kovac knows that "hard work awaits us on Friday. But we're at home, we'll contest the first match of the Bundesliga campaign, and we want to win of course."
After five weeks of preparation, Manuel Neuer & Co are "highly motivated" to start the campaign with a win and retain their domestic crown. "We're on a record run. We've won the league seven times in a row, and of course, we want to extend it for as long as we can," stressed the goalkeeper. "Essentially we're playing at home, we're looking forward to the home game at the Allianz Arena, and of course we want to win."
Kovac: We want to defend the title
However, FCB face awkward opponents. Hertha, who contest their second restart fixture after a maiden appearance in 2002, last won in Munich in October 1977. Bayern beat them 1-0 in the last meeting in Munich, but the men from the capital had gone unbeaten in the four encounters beforehand. "I don't know whether there's any side that's made life difficult for Bayern over the last few years, but if so we're definitely one of them," said sporting director Michael Preetz.
"We know we'll need an extraordinary performance. But that has to be our ambition. You don't contest a restart fixture and run up the white flag," said a confident Preetz. New Hertha coach Ante Covic knows what awaits him in his Bundesliga debut. "If you travel to face the German champions, you encounter the toughest opponents on Matchday 1. Still, we're really looking forward to kick off the season and start from scratch."
"The arrival of a new coach creates an enthusiastic atmosphere. Hertha will take a step forward with Ante Covic," said Kovač, aware that his team are in for a tough challenge. The Bayern coach is without Javi Martínez (lack of training) and Ivan Perisic (one-match ban). Apart from the duo, the Berlin-born 47-year-old has everyone at his disposal against his ex-club. Bayern have a clear goal for the new season: "We want to defend the title!" As a result, a victory is all that counts at the sold-out Allianz Arena on Friday evening.