Ribery, Robben shaped Bayern & Bundesliga – Kovac

By Sacha Pisani 19 May 2019 642
Ribery, Robben shaped Bayern & Bundesliga – Kovac

Niko Kovac said Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben shaped Bayern Munich and the Bundesliga as the head coach heaped praise on the departing duo.

Playing their final league match for Bayern, star pair Ribery and Robben scored as the German giants sealed a seventh success league crown by routing Eintracht Frankfurt 5-1 on Saturday.

Ribery and Robben – who will leave on free transfers at the end of the season with a DFB-Pokal final against RB Leipzig to come – came off the bench and signed off from the Allianz Arena in trademark fashion.

Speaking afterwards, Kovac hailed the veteran duo, telling reporters: "I made two notes today in the meeting. One was that we want to become champions, of course. But we wanted to go one better and give the two [Robben and Ribery] a nice farewell.

"That they do it the way Alex Meier did last year... They come in and scored both. You cannot plan that better. And that shows with what passion the two and Alex in the last year have played.

"That pleases me very much. Because they have shaped the Bundesliga for 10 years. They shaped this club. It was clear they would come in.

"It was hard to tell them that they did not play from the beginning, because we footballers have all been in this situation before. But I had to make a sporting decision.

"And the two who started [Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry] have done well. Especially in the second half of the season. It would also have been unjust if I had left these two out."

Despite helping Bayern retain their Bundesliga crown ahead of a potential domestic double via next week's DFB-Pokal, Kovac's future remains unclear.

There have been reports Bayern – who lost to Liverpool in the Champions League last 16 – will replace the former Eintracht boss after just one season, regardless of whether the Bavarian side beat Leipzig in Berlin.

Asked about his position, Kovac said: "I talk to my boss. I have three [bosses]. It's like that when you talk, you can hear out in which direction it goes. I think I interpreted that correctly. Therefore, I assume that I will hopefully fulfil my contract, which I still have two years here."

"We are German champions," he added. "I think that will eventually be forgotten. You always talk only about what is being told. You have seen it: You can put something into the world and all of a sudden everybody believes that. Like throwing a fishing rod and the fish bite into. That's what I said.

"It is not about me. It's all about togetherness and to pay the other the necessary respect. If you do that, then we all would feel better. It is not always a taking, but also a giving in both directions."

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Sacha Pisani

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