The most-obvious plot lines from Sunday eveningś Super Cup battle between FC Bayern München and Eintracht Frankfurt all stem from the fact that Niko Kovac is making his Bayern coaching debut in a competitive match against the team he was leading the last time he coached in competitive match, Eintracht Frankfurtś 3:1 DFB Cup final victory over Bayern.
While most stories will speak of vengeance, there is no genuine revenge to be had. Lifting the Super Cup, pitting the defending champions of the DFB Cup and of the Bundesliga to signal the return of the Bundesliga, is hardly a reasonable substitution for having had to stand and watch another team lift the hardware in Berlinś Olympic Stadium.
Even while not all titles carry the same weight with fans, the competitive nature of professional athletes tends to show whenever a trophy is dangled before them. The aforementioned plot lines will only act as added fuel for whatever sparks are naturally present.
¨What we experienced the next few days, after the first title in 30 years, was phenomenal¨ recalls Kovac in Kicker magazineś special season preview issue. ¨I will never forget those emotions.¨
There will be no celebrations for Kovac this week, no matter how thorough a drubbing of Frankfurt can be produced. To say a victory will be expected by the vast majority of Bayern support would be a gross understatement, even considering the changes in coaching staff and team personnel.
And should Frankfurt manages to take consecutive wins from the visitors Sunday night . . . let it suffice to say there is no such thing as a ¨honeymoon period¨ for the trainer job at Bayern. Or, if there is, it only applies to test matches.
Then again, the grumblings may have already begun among those inclined to be critical of the person in charge of Germanyś most-dominant club. Bayern blew a two-goal lead in a loss to Manchester City and former coach Pep Guardiola (in case you had forgotten about him) during the clubś tour of the United States for the International Champions Cup. This loss was compounded by the fact it followed a 2:0 loss to Juventus three days prior.
You might be tempted to dismiss the ICC matches as being played largely for marketing purposes, but at least one significant Bayern figure voiced his displeasure at the display.
¨Thatś aggravating,” said Arjen Robben after seeing his 24th-minute 2:0 go to waste. ¨Once you lead 2:0, you should not lose.¨
On the other side, Adi Hütter is far from feeling the first waves of pressure over his new gig as Frankfurtś trainer. While personnel changes offer little protection at Bayern, Frankfurt supporters will be more likely to hope for and appreciate a Super Cup win over Bayern, but won´t necessarily expect it. Instead, the match will be seen as a gauge of where preparations by the new trainer team have progressed with integrating all the new faces into the team. Only a decisive loss is likely to cause anxiety, but more for what it means for the season start than anything else.
But at least some of the players see it as a little more than that.
¨This is an important match,”says Mijat Gacinovic. ¨We will be ready for Bayern, of that I am certain.¨
The 23-year-old attacking midfielder was part of Serbiaś World Cup squad, but did not experience any playing time, but was last seen by Bayern fans celebrating his extra-time punctuation mark on the 3:1 win in Berlin.
Whatever the SuperCup result, itś possible that Frankfurt may have already pulled off their summerś most-important victory over FC Bayern.
Ante Rebic, who scored Frankfurtś first two goals in the cup final, signed a new deal with Eintracht reaching into 2021, putting to rest immediate concerns he would leave following a terrific summer for Croatia in the World Cup. Bayern was said to be among the many clubs interested in acquiring the left winger for what sporting director Fredi Bobic has said would have represented a ¨record sum for Eintracht Frankfurt” of a transfer fee. Bobic says, however, that he was motivated by the sporting piece of handling Rebic, rather than the economic factor.
¨I said to him, ´Ante, you are not finished here yet. The fans love you and your style, how you play football,” says Bobic about his approach to Rebic.
Despite missing out on a chance to reunite so quickly with one of his stars, Kovac echoes those sentiments.
¨That they were able to extend with Ante by a year speaks to the clubś ambitions,” says Kovac, ¨Ante is an idol in Frankfurt.“
As for Rebicś new trainer, Hütter feels like Rebic makes a huge difference for his teamś chances in attack, describing him as a ¨draft horse¨ and a ¨key player.¨
Eintracht Frankfurt host FC Bayern Munich Sunday night in the German Super Cup. Kick-off is scheduled for 20:30 PM CEST (14:30 EST) on Fox Sports 2 in the US and BT Sport in the UK.