BERLIN – Bayern Munich’s next coach Niko Kovac says his only concern is beating his future club when they host his Eintracht Frankfurt team in the Bundesliga on Saturday.
A fortnight ago, Kovac, 46, was announced as Bayern’s head coach for 2018/19 to replace Jupp Heynckes.
Kovac insists his only priority is inflicting more woe on Bayern, who lost their Champions League semi-final, first leg 2-1 at home to Real Madrid on Wednesday.
“All I’m interested in right now at Bayern Munich is just how we can beat them,” said Kovac.
“The only thing important is Eintracht and what else we can achieve this season.”
Bayern face Kovac’s Eintracht twice in the coming weeks with the clubs also to meet in the German Cup final on May 19.
Bundesliga champions Bayern are sure to rotate for Saturday’s league match at the Allianz Arena, four days before their return European semi-final in Madrid.
Bayern have Jerome Boateng sidelined for the rest of the season after injuring his groin in the Real defeat, while midfielders Arjen Robben (groin) and Javi Martinez (head injury) will also sit out the game.
Seventh-placed Frankfurt are desperate for points to bridge the single-point gap behind RB Leipzig to get in amongst the European places.
Business end of the season 💼 pic.twitter.com/msPdQ5yOvy
Kovac calculates Frankfurt “still have to get four (league) points” in order to finish fifth or sixth and qualify for the Europa League.
He doesn’t see it as an advantage that Bayern will rest their stars for Real.
“The players who face us will want to put themselves forward for the match in Madrid, which makes it even more complicated for us,” said Kovac.
Frankfurt are missing key Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng and striker Ante Rebic, who both have leg injuries, and suspended Japanese defender Makoto Hasebe.
Second-placed Schalke can be sure of a direct Champions League berth next season if they beat Borussia Moenchengladbach at home on Saturday.
However, the Royal Blues were rocked by Thursday’s confirmation that midfielder Max Meyer, 22, will leave at the end of the season.
His future plans are unknown, but the box-to-box midfielder has been linked to Liverpool and Arsenal.
Schalke are already losing Germany midfielder Leon Goretzka to Bayern next season.
At the bottom of the table, both Hamburg and Cologne are running out of time to stave off relegation.
Hamburg, who are at Wolfsburg on Saturday, are the only team to have played in every season of the Bundesliga since its foundation in 1963.
With three games left, it will take a minor miracle to prevent Hamburg suffering a first relegation.
They must bridge a five-point gap to 16th, which carries a relegation play-off berth against the third-best second division club.
Their run-in includes top-eight clubs Frankfurt and Gladbach in the next fortnight.
Bottom side Cologne, who have only a mathematical chance of staying up, face fellow strugglers Freiburg on Saturday.
Cologne are eight points off safety and need to win all three remaining games, including beating champions Bayern at home on May 5, to have even the slightest chance of survival.
Bundesliga Fixtures (all times 3.30pm unless stated)
Hoffenheim v Hanover 96 (8.30pm)
Bayern Munich v Eintracht Frankfurt, Hertha Berlin v Augsburg, Freiburg v Cologne, Schalke v Borussia Moenchengladbach, Wolfsburg v Hamburg, Bayer Leverkusen v Stuttgart (6.30pm)
Mainz v RB Leipzig, Werder Bremen v Borussia Dortmund (6pm)