Niko Kovac has admitted that Bayern Munich looked to kill time in Tuesday’s Champions League tie with Liverpool by faking cramps in the game’s waning moments. The Bavarians’ manager has revealed that Javi Martinez strategically wasted time in Tuesday’s scoreless Champions League draw at Anfield.
Bayern held on for a 0-0 draw at Anfield on Tuesday in the first leg of their last 16 tie with last season’s Champions League runners-up. In the game’s last few minutes, Bayern appeared content with the draw as the German champions sat back and protected the 0-0 scoreline. Javi Martinez went down with what appeared to be a cramp as Liverpool turned up the pressure, but, after the match, Kovac admitted that his players were simply wasting time to preserve the vital away result.
“We all know the drill: It’s close to the final whistle and you try to waste a bit of time. Javi has good performance data, meaning he couldn’t have even had a cramp. That’s all a bit of acting. Recently in Berlin, Kingsley Coman also pretended to have a cramp but he didn’t. We have to bring calmness in the game. They do it well, they have the experience for that,” Kovac told Sky after the match.
With the draw, Bayern will head to the Allianz Arena with a fighting chance against Liverpool, something that couldn’t be said for the Reds’ opponents last season in the same competition. Liverpool trounced Manchester City 3-0 in the opening leg at Anfield in the quarter-finals a year ago before thumping Roma 5-2 at home to open the semi-final round.
Eager to avoid that, Bayern largely played it safe in the 0-0 draw, but will be limited going home as Joshua Kimmich’s first-half caution earned him a suspension for the second leg due to yellow card accumulation. The two sides will meet again on March 13 in Germany with a spot in the quarter-finals on the line. Before that, though, Bayern will look to push for a trophy domestically as they face Hertha Berlin, Borussia Monchengladbach and Wolfsburg in the coming weeks as they look to shorten the three-point gap maintained by rivals Borussia Dortmund.