Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac has warned his side not to underestimate the threat of pointless Bayer Leverkusen when their Bundesliga campaign resumes on Saturday.
Despite pre-season predictions of Leverkusen being a potential challenger to Bayern’s dominance, Heiko Herrlich’s men have suffered back-to-back defeats from their opening two league games.
Kovac, though, maintains there can be no room for complacency at the Allianz Arena as his side prepare for a run of seven matches in the space of 22 days.
“I know what they’re capable of. I’m expecting a tough fight,” the Bayern manager said at a press conference.
“Leverkusen played very well and were very successfully last year, now they have no points, but they could have gotten six points. We won’t be fooled.”
After the 2-0 loss at Borussia Moenchengladbach was followed by a shock 3-1 home defeat against VfL Wolfsburg, Herrlich has found his position come under scrutiny.
Kovac, who took over first-team duties at the Allianz Arena this season, cannot understand such a mindset.
“I am surprised and disappointed to have this criticism so strong,” the former Eintracht Frankfurt boss said.
“It’s an impossibility to question a coach after two games.”
“I also do not think it’s appropriate for us to all get so excited after two games. We must try to remain objective and be professional.”
Kovac expects his men to come out firing on all cylinders when they return to club duties, with no fresh injury concerns.
“This match is important to make sure we get back into a rhythm. We are top of the table and want to remain there,” he said.
“I want to prepare my team so they know everything about the opposition.”
Leverkusen coach Herrlich, meanwhile, wants to focus on what he can control, no matter the clamour surrounding his own position.
“We have prepared ourselves intensively. Tomorrow is about giving the best possible performance,” Herrlich said at a press conference.
“What I expect to see from us is the will and absolute desire to win the game. Since I’ve been here, I’ve always been trying to exemplify this mentality.”
Herrlich, though, knows what challenge his side are up against. “Bayern have a special level of quality,” the Leverkusen coach added.
“Of course, we’ve observed how they have played against others – where they might give up chances or what a team must do to be successful.
“Ultimately, though, we’ll try to carry out our plan.”