A resurgent Bayern Munich head to Ajax for Wednesday’s Champions League group showdown with clear winners and losers among the star-studded squad after Niko Kovac’s decision to end rotation.
“We want to keep going,” said Leon Goretzka, now a firm fixture in central midfield alongside Joshua Kimmich with Bayern having won their last three games after Saturday’s 3-0 league home win over Nuremberg.
“Now we travel to Amsterdam and want to finish first in the group that’s important for us.”
Bayern needs just a point at Ajax’s Johan Cruyff Arena to win Group E with the Bavarian giants currently top of the table, two points ahead of their Dutch rivals, and both teams already into the last 16. A 5-1 thrashing of Benfica at the Allianz Arena a fortnight ago, with Robert Lewandowski and Arjen Robben both scoring twice, signified an end to the poor results of October and November which also saw Bayern slide down the Bundesliga table.
Bayern have now clawed their way back up to third in the league and coach Kovac has taken a gamble by ditching rotation, risking ruffled egos with stars left on the bench.
“The rhythm is there, the boys are in the flow- that’s why we don’t want to change anything,” World cup winners- Germany defender Mats Hummels, and Spain midfielder Javi Martnez bench against Nuremberg alongside Euro 2016 winner Renato Sanches.
Martinez and Sanches find their path blocked by Kimmich and Goretzka, both 23, who each hit the woodwork against Nuremberg. “Both have a very good understanding of football and read the game well,” said Kovac, at the helm at Bayern since July.
Robben ruled out-Veteran Dutch winger Arjen Robben will play no part in Bayern due to an ongoing knee injury. Robben, 34, has been out injured since scoring twice in a 5-1 win over group rivals Benfica last month and has yet to fully recover.
From Online Sources