Sunday, April 21, 2019 | ePaper
Embattled Bayern hunt Thiago replacement
Bayern Munich are struggling to fill the creative hole left by Thiago Alcantara's injury as they host AEK in the Champions League on Wednesday trying to secure a last 16 berth with trouble brewing for head coach Niko Kovac.
Bayern can reach the knockout stages if they beat the Greek champions AEK at Munich's Allianz Arena and Benfica lose at Ajax in the other Group E match.
However, Bayern have been struggling for creativity since Thiago tore ankle ligaments ten days ago and Joshua Kimmich, usually a right-back, has struggled to replace him in the central midfield role.
Kimmich lost 14 of his 16 challenges for the ball and several passes went astray in Saturday's lethargic 1-1 draw against Freiburg, which left Bayern third in the league table, four points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund.
Kovac has other central midfield options to replace Thiago against AEK in James Rodriguez, Renato Sanches or Leon Goretzka.
However, bigger problems are brewing off the pitch with pundits warning Kovac is in danger of losing his dressing room.
"The coach is measured by results and not everyone is behind Niko Kovac," ex-Bayern and Germany midfielder Lothar Matthaeus told Sky.
"That is dangerous."
German magazine Kicker on Monday claim senior players Thomas Mueller, Mats Hummels, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben are all unhappy with Kovac's coachings style.