Kovac can prove his 'Bayern DNA' by beating them in German Cup final

Comments()
Getty
The former midfielder comes up against his old club on Saturday - a intimidating task for a man who is set to take the reins from Jupp Heynckes

Bayern Munich are a team of winners. It is something that is bred into them, a culture that has built up around the club to accept nothing other than success.

That is why they decided to axe Carlo Ancelotti early in the season after a disappointing 3-0 defeat to PSG. With no concrete plan in place of a successor, Jupp Heynckes was coaxed out of retirement to turn things around and re-instill the winning mentality to a dressing room that had lost faith in its previous coach.

Former treble winner Heynckes did exactly what was expected of him, winning the Bundesliga at a canter, and bettering Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final in every aspect of the game other than the scoreline. He is due to retire for good this weekend after the DFB-Pokal final, with just one man standing in the way of Bayern Munich winning their 12th domestic double.

The task of defeating Bayern Munich falls to Eintracht Frankfurt head coach Niko Kovac, who also takes charge of his last game at his respective club. The former Bayern midfielder will succeed Heynckes at the Allianz Arena next season, having been confirmed as their new coach in April.

Since the announcement, Frankfurt have faltered in the league, slipping to eighth and now must win the cup to qualify for Europe next season. However, this last game for Kovac allows him to give the club the perfect parting gift of their first major trophy in 30 years.

Former Frankfurt forward Jan Age Fjortoft is a cult hero at the club, having scored a decisive 89th minute goal in the last game of the 1998-99 season to keep the club in the Bundesliga. He feels that Kovac's well-drilled side can not only defeat Germany's most successful side, but also reveal his winning 'Bayern DNA' in the process.

"I hope Frankfurt won't overestimate Bayern. Of course Bayern will be the big favourites in the game, but I think for a player who goes into a game where you have everything to win, I think that is a good attitude," Fjortoft told Goal.

"I think it's a good position to be in because they've got nothing to lose. If they lose 4-0, of course people will say 'Yeah of course they'll lose 4-0 because they lost 4-1 against a C team in the Bundesliga.' I think it's a good place to be for Frankfurt, and of course I think they can win. They will probably lose nine of 10 games, hopefully this is the winning one.

"Kovac has natural authority. He is a leader. Most of all, he knows the Bayern DNA. I think when you want to coach a big club like Bayern, you have to understand the culture at the club. Niko Kovac knows that, it is a good starting position for him."

With Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery both being handed one-year contract extensions despite turning 34 and 35 this year, Kovac is set to take charge of a team in transition. They must find a way to build for the future, while also maintaining their Bundesliga superiority as well as their competitive edge in the Champions League.

At Frankfurt, Kovac has brought the best out of his players, even taming Kevin-Prince Boateng to turn him into one of the league's best performers in 2017-18. The 46-year-old has utilised a 3-4-1-2 or 3-1-4-2 this season, playing direct and clever football to play to the strengths of his squad.

The team led the league in yellow cards received with 72 and were third in the fouls committed table, but Fjortoft does not believe that Kovac's side deserve to be labelled as a nasty team, instead one that works hard to win points. The ex-Norway international also feels that the squad depth at Bayern will allow a variety of tactics to be implemented, moving away from the reliance on Robben and Ribery.

"I don't think his teams are nasty," Fjortoft insists. "I think he is a hard worker and gets his teams to work hard, but I don't think they are aggressive or dirty.

"I think he has more alternatives at Bayern. He can bring more of his ideas out. Sometimes when you manage a team further down in the table, you have to find ways to get results.

"At Bayern, he can have more options. Ribery and Robben won't play every game, then you have players like Muller where you can put in different positions. I think you will see a Bayern team that will change a bit. Niko Kovac is not a pragmatic person, he's a practical coach. He doesn't start with a system. He will adapt. At the end of the day, it's all about winning football games. If he starts with a system and things go well, he will probably stick to it. But there are so many options.

"He will have more players, he will have a squad with a depth that he does not have at Frankfurt. In those kind of clubs, you have to play with 12, 13, 14 players that you think are first choice, but at Bayern he has more ways to influence the game. He has different alternatives, I think you will see that when he coaches Bayern."

GFX Jan Age Fjortoft Niko Kovac

Despite Bayern's failure to progress against Madrid in the Champions League final, Fjortoft is confident that the team will not need a radical overhaul under Kovac next season. With the former Croatia manager at the helm, they will just need to be more clinical and less error-prone, something Kovac can instil in the team following his approach with Eintracht.

"It hard to analyse that after two games where they should have went through over Real Madrid. I had a Toni Kroos interview after the game, and even he thought that. They need to score more and stop giving away stupid goals, simply put. 

Article continues below

"On the other hand, when you see the Bayern team, when you see [Robert] Lewandowski not at his best shape at the end of the season, you maybe need more potential matchwinners. When you have Robben out and Ribery not as good as we've seen him at his best, then they didn't seem like scoring. They were good in possession, getting good positions, but didn't put them away.

"On that level, they were still in the semi-final of the Champions League, and sometimes it's just a coincidence that they may take the next step. Although it's not a coincidence that Real Madrid is always in the final."

The Bavarians need more matchwinners on the pitch, but on Saturday, Kovac can use his Bayern DNA to prove he is a matchwinner from the dugout.

Close