Bayern Munich will face Hoffenheim in the last 16 of the German Cup as they attempt to defend their trophy, while last season’s losing finalists RB Leipzig will travel to Eintracht Frankfurt.
Borussia Dortumund, who eliminated Bundesliga leaders Borussia Moenchengladbach in the last round, travel to Werder Bremen, while Schalke host Hertha Berlin in the other all-top flight clash.
Fixtures (matches to be played February 4-5 2020):
Eintracht Frankfurt v RB Leipzig, Bayern Munich v Hoffenheim, Schalke 04 v Hertha Berlin, Werder Bremen v Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen v Stuttgart, Kaiserslautern v Fortuna Duesseldorf, SC Verl v Union Berlin, FC Saarbruecken v Karlsruhe
Niko Kovac has been sacked by Bayern Munich, the German champions announced on Sunday, after a poor run of form that has left them fourth in the Bundesliga.
“FC Bayern Munich have relieved head coach Niko Kovac of his duties,” the club said in a statement.
The “mutual decision” was taken following talks with club president Uli Hoeness, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic and Kovac himself.
“The performances of our team in recent weeks and the results have shown us that there was a need for action,” said Rummenigge.
Assistant coach Hansi Flick will take charge of the team “until further notice”, the statement added.
The 48-year-old former Croatia international said it was the right move for the side who sit in fourth place in the table.
“I think this is the correct decision for the club at this time,” Kovac said.
“I would like to thank FC Bayern for these past 18 months. During that time our team won the Bundesliga, the DFB Cup and the Supercup. It was a good time. I wish the club and the team all the very best.”
Bayern will play a Champions League match against Olympiakos on Wednesday before facing Borussia Dortmund in the German top-flight on Saturday.
“We all regret this development. I would like to thank Niko Kovac on behalf of FC Bayern for his work, particularly for last season’s double win.”
Saturday’s hammering by Eintracht was the club’s worst league defeat in 10 years, throwing Kovac’s future into doubt.
After defeating the Bavarians in the German Cup final in his last match in charge of Eintracht in 2018, Kovac went on to win the Bundesliga and the German Cup in his first year in charge.
Only one month ago, Kovac’s short-term future at Bayern looked secure after he masterminded a 7-2 win over Champions League finalists Tottenham in London.
Former Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri, Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger are among the coaches named by bookmakers as possible replacements for Kovac, with the latter speaking fluent German and having previously expressed a desire to coach the German champions.
Bayern Munich crashed to their heaviest Bundesliga defeat for a decade after Jerome Boateng saw an early red card in their 5-1 thrashing at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
Defending champions Bayern are now fourth in the table, four points behind leaders Borussia Moenchengladbach, leaving head coach Niko Kovac under huge pressure after their heaviest league defeat since April 2009 when they crashed 5-1 at Wolfsburg, who won the 2008/09 league title.
Robert Lewandowski maintained his phenomenal scoring record with two goals as Bayern Munich came from behind to seal a 3-2 win at Olympiakos in the Champions League Tuesday.
Lewandowski scored for his 12th game in a row to leave him with 18 goals in 13 games in all competitions so far this season.
After Youssef El Arabi had given Olympiakos a shock lead in Athens, Lewandowski poached goals, both after good work in the build-up from Thomas Mueller, to turn the game before Corentin Tolisso grabbed a third with a superb strike.
Worryingly for the defending German champions, Olympiakos again beat Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer late on when Brazilian midfielder Guilherme hit the back of the net in a tense last ten minutes.
There was unpleasant news before kick-off in Athens when the UEFA Youth League match between Bayern and Olympiakos was abandoned with the Germans winning 4-0 after a masked gang attacked visiting fans with clubs leaving at least seven people injured.
The Greek hosts can expect a hefty fine from UEFA, but the away win could have also cost Bayern a second centre-back in three days as Lucas Hernandez limped off after Niklas Suele tore his cruciate ligament on Saturday.
This was Bayern’s third straight win in Europe to leave them five points clear at the top of Group B ahead of Tottenham Hotspur, who won 5-0 at home to Red Star Belgrade, while Olympiakos stay bottom of the group.
Mueller had started the previous eight games on Bayern’s bench, but the Germany star was finally named on the right wing and made his point with both assists for Lewandowski.
Since thrashing Tottenham 7-2 in north London three weeks ago, Bayern have failed to win their last two Bundesliga games and got off to a bad start at the Stadio Georgios Karaiskakis.
After El-Arabi’s header beat Neuer at the far post, the hosts almost got a second goal when Hernandez got a foot to a Kostas Tsimikas cross, which was heading towards goal before Neuer intervened.
Olympiakos’ lead lasted 11 minutes as Mueller blasted an acrobatic volley which was blocked by goalkeeper Jose Sa, but Lewandowski pounced to fire home.
It was 1-1 at the break, but the Poland star put Bayern ahead when he stabbed home from close-range after Mueller had a shot blocked with an hour gone.
Tolisso, a half-time replacement for Javi Martinez in central midfield, then curled home a superb third for Bayern on 75 minutes from long range.
Guilherme allowed home fans to dream four minutes later with a similar thunderbolt shot from distance after poor defending which beat Neuer to narrow the scoreline.
Bayern Munich and Germany defender Niklas Süle will be out for several months after tearing a knee ligament, the club said on Sunday.
Suele suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage in his left knee during Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Augsburg. The 24-year-old limped off the field and later left the stadium on crutches.
He will undergo surgery later on Sunday, Bayern said in a statement.
Germany coach Joachim Loew described the injury as “a real blow” that “certainly affects the ongoing development of our young team.”
“Niklas is one of the faces of this new generation and was no doubt a central figure in our planning,” Loew told the website of the German Football Federation.
“I’m confident that he will work his way back into the team, but we won’t be putting any pressure on him whatsoever and will support him as best we can.”
Suele’s pace, strength and ability to time tackles to perfection has led to him replacing the likes of Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels as first-choice centre-back for both club and country in recent months.
But the player dubbed “Germany’s Virgil Van Dijk” has himself said he still lacks the assertiveness needed on the pitch to be considered a real defensive leader.
Suele tore a cruciate ligament in the same knee when he was 19 and playing for Hoffenheim.
Serge Gnabry scored four second-half goals as Bayern Munich embarrassed Tottenham 7-2 on Tuesday, meaning last season’s Champions League finalists face an uphill task to reach the knockout phase.
Spurs started brightly in London and took the lead through the lively Son Heung-min but were pegged back by fine strikes from Joshua Kimmich and Robert Lewandowski, who struck on the stroke of half-time.
The second half belonged to former Arsenal man Gnabry, who struck four times as the five-time European champions completed a rout. Lewandowski also scored a second.
It was the first time Spurs had conceded seven goals in a home match in any major competition.
The result leaves Bayern in pole position in Group B with two wins from two matches but Spurs have just a single point after seeing a 2-0 lead wiped out in their opening game against Olympiakos.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side reached the Champions League final last season after winning just one point from their opening three group games but the manager has work to do to lift his side’s spirits.
Hugo Lloris was called into action in just the second minute, beating away an effort from Gnabry when he just had the Spurs goalkeeper to beat.
But Tottenham were quickly into their stride and Son twice tested Manuel Neuer.
The South Korean forward was rewarded in the 12th minute, latching on to Moussa Sissoko’s through ball and firing low into the far corner from the right side of the box.
But Bayern were level just 194 seconds later when Kimmich controlled the ball and struck from 25 yards.
Bayern took the lead on the stroke of half-time thanks to a superb finish from Lewandowski.
The Poland striker picked up the loose ball at the edge of the area and swivelled to fire into the bottom corner.
Bayern extended their advantage eight minutes after the break as Gnabry broke at pace down the left and burst into the box before drilling into the bottom corner.
Spurs’ misery was compounded as Gnabry struck again two minutes later, capitalising after Harry Winks lost possession.
Pochettino’s men were handed a lifeline as the referee pointed to the penalty spot for a foul on Danny Rose, with Harry Kane reducing the deficit to 4-2 on the hour mark.
But Gnabry sealed his hat-trick for Bayern in the 83rd minute after racing beyond the Spurs defence and slotting past Lloris from 15 yards.
There was still time for Lewandowski to side-foot home a sixth for the German giants and Gnabry was able to add his fourth, and a seventh for Bayern, in the 88th minute.
Spurs have struggled to find consistency this season following a period of unrest in the dressing room, with key players including Christian Eriksen linked to moves that never materialised.
As Bayern Munich launch their Champions League campaign against Red Star Belgrade on Wednesday night, Bavarian hopes of reclaiming European club football’s top prize rest to a large extent on the shoulders of Philippe Coutinho.
Following seven semi-final appearances in the last decade, the former Liverpool midfielder has been hailed as the man who can take Bayern the extra step in European football’s flagship competition this season.
Last season’s defeat to Liverpool in the last 16 sparked fears that Bayern’s Champions League aura was fading.
The departure of veteran stars such as Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben seemed to confirm the end of an era, but Coutinho’s arrival on loan from Barcelona has prompted fresh hope that Bayern can be restored as one of the continent’s most feared sides.
“There are always big expectations at Bayern and of course the Champions League is a goal,” said Coutinho at his unveiling in August.
Many believe that the 27-year-old can inspire Bayern to their first Champions League title since 2013.
Earlier this month, his Brazil team-mate and Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson told German newspaper Bild that Coutinho’s arrival put Bayern among the title favourites this season.
Fellow Bayern midfielder Corentin Tolisso echoed that sentiment in an interview with Sky last month, saying that the loan signings of Coutinho and Croatian winger Ivan Perisic would be decisive for Bayern.
“Before those two arrived, we didn’t necessarily have a team that was capable of winning the treble,” said Tolisso.
“With this team, we can go very far in the Champions League. I think the title is possible.”
Such expectations could weigh heavy on Coutinho, who is looking to reboot his career after struggling to hold down a first-team spot in a year and a half at Barcelona.
His price tag is also a potential burden. Though Bayern paid a loan fee of just 8.5 million euros ($9.5m) to secure his services, German media estimate Coutinho’s wages at around 13 million euros a year after tax, which would make him the highest-paid player in the Bayern dressing room.
“Those things don’t bother me. I want to enjoy being on the pitch, play in big games and win titles. The numbers are just a side note for me,” Coutinho told Sport Bild magazine last week.
‘Similar to England’
The Brazilian has charmed the Munich press so far, promising to learn German and speaking in glowing terms of the welcome he has received at Bayern.
He told Sport Bild that he hoped to emulate the sort of form which once made him a fan favourite at Liverpool.
“I have noticed in my first few games for Bayern that football here is very intense like it is in England. Much more so than in Spain and Brazil. That is good for me,” he said.
Coutinho even claimed he could imagine staying longer at Bayern if the club were to win the Champions League this season.
“That is a big dream for me, similar to winning the World Cup,” he said.
Yet it remains early days for Coutinho, who has made just one start for Bayern in three Bundesliga appearances so far.
He played just 10 minutes in last Saturday’s 1-1 draw at RB Leipzig, with Thomas Mueller preferred in the starting line-up.
Coach Niko Kovac insisted that Coutinho needed time to recover after returning from Brazil following the international break.
“He only had 72 hours recovery time. He will definitely play in the next few games,” said Kovac.
For Coutinho, it seems, the season starts for real on Wednesday against Red Star Belgrade.
Bayern Munich full-back David Alaba is set to miss out on Wednesday’s Champions League opener against Red Star Belgrade after picking up a thigh injury, the club confirmed Sunday.
Alaba, 27, was pulled out of the starting line-up just before kick-off in Bayern’s 1-1 draw at RB Leipzig on Saturday after getting injured in the warm-up.
On Sunday, the club announced that the Austrian international had torn a muscle in his left thigh, and said he would be out of action “for the time being”.
Alaba, who won the Champions League with Bayern in 2013, has become a senior figure in the Bayern dressing room following the departures of veteran players such as Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben last season.
His absence forced Niko Kovac to shuffle his defence as Bayern missed a chance to go top of the Bundesliga against Leipzig on Saturday.
New signing Lucas Hernandez filled in for Alaba on the left while Jerome Boateng took Hernandez’ position in central defence.
Hat-trick hero Robert Lewandowski hailed the strength of Bayern Munich’s squad after securing a 3-0 victory over Schalke on Saturday, as new signing Philippe Coutinho made his Bundesliga debut for the German giants.
“Our squad is optimal now. We brought two good players on in the second half today, and we need that because we play a lot of games over the season,” Lewandowski told Sky.
Coutinho, on loan from Barcelona, replaced Thomas Mueller in the 57th minute, coming on alongside fellow debutant Ivan Perisic with Bayern already two goals up.
“I am very happy to be here. The football here is very intense, and I have only been here for three or four days, so I need to work hard,” Coutinho told Sky.
Bayern, who have not lost to Schalke in the league since 2010, took the lead from a penalty on 20 minutes.
English right-back Jonjoe Kenny, on loan to Schalke from Everton, clattered into the back of Kingsley Coman, and Lewandowski slotted home from 12 yards to score against Schalke for the ninth game in a row.
The Polish striker then curled in a spectacular free-kick to double the lead just after half-time.
A resurgent Schalke had several handball penalty appeals turned down as Bayern struggled to maintain control in the second half.
Yet Lewandowski killed the game off 15 minutes from time, slipping away from marker Salif Sane to complete the seventh Bundesliga hat-trick of his career.
“The expectations are always growing, but I always try to get better,” said Lewandowski.
Hoffenheim win five-goal thriller
Everton loanee Kenny was not the only unfortunate Englishman on Saturday, as an own-goal from youth international Lewis Baker sent Bayer Leverkusen on their way to a 3-1 win over Fortuna Duesseldorf earlier in the day.
Chelsea loanee Baker turned a Kevin Volland cross into his own net after just six minutes.
Charles Aranguiz and Karim Bellarabi added two more in a stylish first-half performance from Champions League qualifiers Leverkusen.
Yet Volland bemoaned his side’s lapse in concentration after Alfredo Morales grabbed a consolation goal for Duesseldorf.
“We deserved to win but we are not at 100 percent. Otherwise we would have kept a clean sheet,” he said.
Werder Bremen still have no points from their opening two games after they lost a five-goal thriller to Hoffenheim.
The home side looked comfortable after second-half goals from Ermin Bicakcic and Ihlas Bebou had cancelled out Niclas Fuellkrug’s opener and Bremen had a player sent off.
Yet Yuya Osako drew the visitors level with a slaloming run and fine finish before Pavel Kaderabek’s header three minutes from time sealed a 3-2 win for Hoffenheim.
New Borussia Moenchengladbach boss Marco Rose celebrated his first three points as goals from Stefan Lainer, Alassane Plea and Breel Embolo saw his side come from behind to beat Mainz 3-1.
Freiburg, who thrashed Mainz 3-0 last weekend, picked up a second win in two as they beat promoted side Paderborn 3-1.
Goals from Luca Waldschmidt, Nils Petersen and South Korea’s Chang-Hoon Kwon secured the win after Streli Mamba had given Paderborn an early lead.
Sebastian Andersson scored Union Berlin’s first ever Bundesliga goal, cancelling out Ruben Vargas’ opener to secure a 1-1 draw with his late equaliser at Augsburg.
“He has said that himself, and we don’t want to take any risks. He has only been training for the last two weeks, so he needs to catch up,” he added, but confirmed Coutinho would be in the matchday squad.
“I know a lot of people want us to play him straight away, but everything has to be right.”
Kovac said Bayern’s other new attacking signing, Croatia winger Ivan Perisic, could make the starting eleven against Schalke.
“Ivan is much further along, he started training at the same time as we did, and played several games for Inter Milan in pre-season,” he said.
Bayern are under pressure to pick up three points against David Wagner’s Schalke side, having been held to a draw in their opening Bundesliga game against Hertha Berlin last week.