Barcelona and Bayern Munich target Matthijs de Ligt is certain to leave Ajax at the end of the season, according to the club's head coach Erik ten Hag.

The talented teenage defender is one of the most wanted players in Europe and news of his impending departure could trigger a high-priced bidding war.

Head coach Ten Hag mentioned LaLiga champions Barca and their Bundesliga counterparts Bayern among the possible destinations for the Netherlands international.

Juventus - Ajax's opponents in the Champions League quarter-finals - are also reportedly interested.

"There's zero chance Matthijs de Ligt is staying at Ajax,” Ten Hag told German publication Suddeutschen Zeitung.

"There are so many clubs interested in him. He will leave us this summer, but I don't know whether he'll join Bayern or Barcelona."

Frenkie de Jong, De Ligt's team-mate for club and country, is already bound for Barca at the end of the season in a €75million deal.

Hakim Ziyech is another player attracting attention and the playmaker has reopened the possibility of a switch to Roma.

Ziyech, 26, came close to signing for the Serie A side last year and believes he could still join former Ajax winger Justin Kluivert at the Giallorossi.

"No, I don't think [the door to Roma has closed]," Ziyech told Calciomercato.

"I talk to Kluivert regularly and we often speak about Italian football. There is no league where I would prefer to play. It depends on the type of project the club has for me.

"The important thing for me is to continue to grow as a player."

Niko Kovac says long-serving attacker Arjen Robben deserves better than to spend the final months of his Bayern Munich career on the treatment table.

Veteran winger Robben, 35, fears he has played his final game for the club after a hurting his calf in the latest of a long series of injury issues.

The ex-Netherlands international will leave the Allianz Arena when his contract expires at the end of the campaign.

Robben last featured for the Bundesliga champions on November 27, scoring twice in a Champions League win over Benfica.

"It's very sad that Arjen has not been with us since November," Kovac said.

"He always feels something, even though the doctors are giving positive signs. He just does not feel right at the moment.

"It would be nice if he could play again for Bayern. He deserves that."

Franck Ribery will also miss Sunday's match at Fortuna Dusseldorf through illness, although Alphonso Davies has overcome a knee issue.

Corentin Tolisso is back in training after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in September and Kovac quelled concerns that the midfielder sustained a setback when he collided with a team-mate during Wednesday's session.

"[Tolisso] didn't sustain an injury in training, but he thought he did," the Bayern boss said.

"It's normal for a player to be more cautious after such a long time out. We have to gradually reintroduce him to the first team."

The Bavarians head to Dusseldorf with a one-point lead at the top of the table following last weekend's 5-0 thumping of Borussia Dortmund.

Kingsley Coman and Robert Lewandowski traded blows in a training ground bust-up, Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac has confirmed.

German publication Bild reported Coman and Lewandowski clashed following a heated exchange on Thursday and Kovac admitted the fight took place.

Defenders Niklas Sule and Jerome Boateng are said to have separated the pair in an incident that could disrupt squad harmony ahead of the final six games of the Bundesliga season.

The club have not handed down any sanctions and Kovac insisted the star attackers have resolved their spat.

"There was a fight between two players who were named in the media," Kovac said on Friday.

"The three of us discussed it after training, and both apologised for their behaviour and were sorry for what happened.

"No one is being fined because both players were understanding, and being understanding is very important now. The matter is done and dusted.

"No further questions will be answered. Now it's all about the upcoming game [against Fortuna Dusseldorf on Sunday]."

Lewandowski's future in Munich remains unclear as despite previously expressing an interest in a new challenge, with Real Madrid regularly mentioned as a possible destination, he is reportedly close to signing a contract extension.

Bayern Munich will travel to Werder Bremen on April 24 for their DFB-Pokal semi-final, with Hamburg hosting RB Leipzig a day earlier.

Head coach Niko Kovac is aiming for back-to-back successes in the competition after his Eintracht Frankfurt side overcame Bayern 3-1 in the 2018 final.

The Bundesliga champions suffered a scare in this season's quarter-finals, eventually overcoming 2.Bundesliga side Heidenheim 5-4 in a remarkable contest despite Niklas Sule's first-half red card.

Germany's second tier still has representation in the form of Hamburg, who beat Paderborn 2-0 in the previous round.

Leipzig are expected to be Bayern's main obstacle to a 19th Pokal triumph, although they needed Marcel Halstenberg's goal in stoppage time of extra time to edge a 2-1 quarter-final win at Augsburg.

Marco Reus insists Borussia Dortmund cannot talk about winning the Bundesliga title after going down to a humiliating 5-0 defeat against rivals Bayern Munich.

Lucien Favre's side are now a point behind champions Bayern at the summit after a nightmare outing where they were 4-0 down by half-time.

Six matches remain in the top flight this season and, although Reus acknowledges there could be further twists to come, the Germany forward maintains Dortmund must focus only on a grim post-mortem of an abject outing.

"We played catastrophic, we defended catastrophic," he told reporters. "I don't have an explanation for that. We [applied] zero pressure. Bayern were much better, we have to admit that.

"Nevertheless, we have to analyse this loss, we mustn't play like that against any opponent.

"It was once again a lesson for us, because we just did not play as a team. The only positive is that we are only one point behind and Bayern also have two or three hard opponents in the next weeks.

"But we do not have to talk about the championship if we play like that."

Favre selected Reus in a central attacking role against Bayern, something the 29-year-old feels does not play to his strengths.

"Everyone knows that this is not my favourite position and that I do not want to play there," he added.

"But that should not be an excuse. The coach has to decide that."

Borussia Dortmund head coach Lucien Favre conceded his side were too focused on the Bundesliga title following their demoralising 5-0 Der Klassiker rout to rivals Bayern Munich.

Bayern scored four first-half goals as they humiliated Dortmund 5-0 on Saturday to go a point clear in the race for the Bundesliga trophy.

Dortmund were two points clear prior to kick-off at Allianz Arena, however, Favre's team were put to the sword in the 100th league edition of Der Klassiker – Robert Lewandowski's brace inspiring Bayern.

Afterwards, Favre told reporters: "The 5-0 is difficult to understand but it is well-deserved. Congratulations to my colleague.

"You clearly have to say that this was a lesson for us. We had the chance to score the first goal which could have changed the game.

"Bayern kept dominating the game with more speed and better movements. They played on a higher level. It was a lesson and after 4-0 it's tough to come back in the second half."

"We have to focus on the next game," Favre added. "Today we were probably too concentrated and we were thinking too much about the title.

"We are still facing six difficult games, it was always tight until now, also the last game against Wolfsburg or in Berlin. We have to focus on the next game, we cannot change it now.

"We have to give our best but only think about the next game. And don't think about constellations."

Niko Kovac insisted the Bundesliga title race is not over despite Bayern Munich storming to the summit with a 5-0 hammering of Borussia Dortmund.

Robert Lewandowski's brace and one apiece from Mats Hummels, Javi Martinez and Serge Gnabry earned the Bavarians a resounding Klassiker triumph on Saturday and sent them hurtling back into top spot with six games to go.

Bayern were brilliant in a four-goal first half at Allianz Arena that blew away the visitors and set up a 14th win in 16 league matches.

Kovac applauded his side's sparkling showing in what could prove a decisive result in the club's bid to be crowned champions for the seventh straight season.

"I think we turned in a top performance, a great performance over 90 minutes," Kovac said.

"The first half in particular was sensationally good in every respect. The way we played was very impressive.

"I'm glad, and I'd like to congratulate my team on it. The margin of victory was completely deserved.

"We still have six matches to go, and you have seen how fast it can change in the league. Very, very difficult matches are awaiting both Dortmund and us, so we won't say everything's decided."

Bayern captain Manuel Neuer was barely troubled in his first match back from a calf injury as Dortmund mustered a lone shot on target.

The goalkeeper labelled the victory a breakthrough moment in a campaign that has taken time to get going.

"We were very dominant," Neuer said. "It was a good team display, and I'm very, very glad about it.

"It was the first big-point match we've won. We had to wait for it for a long time.

"We played well in every position, up front, at the back, and most importantly we worked together."

Robert Lewandowski's 200th Bundesliga goal underlines the Bayern Munich striker's status as one of the modern era's most prolific scorers.

The Poland international reached the milestone with the first of his brace in Saturday's crushing 5-0 victory over former club Borussia Dortmund, a result that sent the champions hurtling back to the top of the table.

No overseas player has scored as many Bundesliga goals as Lewandowski, who is on track to win the league's top goalscorer prize for the fourth time.

To mark his 200th strike across spells for Bayern and Dortmund, Omnisport picks out five of Lewandowski's most memorable Bundesliga goals.

 

5. Hannover 0-3 Borussia Dortmund, March 22 2014

Although undoubtedly a complete striker, Lewandowski has arguably earned himself a reputation for instinctive finishes more than goals which have seen him do all the leg work, but this effort proves what he is capable of. After picking up possession on the left, he darted into box, squeezed between a pair of defenders and then rifled home to make it 2-0 to Dortmund.

4. Bayern Munich 6-0 Borussia Dortmund, March 31 2018

Since leaving Dortmund for Bayern in 2014, it is fair to say Lewandowski has made a habit of scoring against his former employers. Last season's crushing 6-0 win saw the Poland international lead the assault, scoring three times, and his first was brilliantly mischievous. With just five minutes played, Lewandowski peeled away from his marker to race on to Thomas Muller's throughball and he fooled Roman Burki with an excellent feint, before rifling into the roof of the net with the goalkeeper still reeling from the trickery.

3. Bayern Munich 6-0 Werder Bremen, August 26 2016

Lewandowski started the 2016-17 season with a bang, scoring a hat-trick in a demolition of Werder Bremen. The best of his three goals had an air of simplicity about it, but it left the visitors' defence bamboozled. The striker nipped in front of his marker at the last second to reach a low cross from the right at the near post, delicately meeting the delivery with a back-heeled effort which found the net.

2. Bayern Munich 3-0 Eintracht Frankfurt, April 11 2015

It is difficult to separate Lewandowski's two best goals, but this one was just edged out due to the nature and context of the other. After controlling the ball on his chest just outside the area, he subsequently flicked the ball over his head and a defender, before then unleashing an unstoppable drive into the top-left corner as it dropped down perfectly for him, showcasing his technical ability, control and power.

1. Bayern Munich 5-1 Wolfsburg, September 22 2015

A remarkable match remembered for an incredible scoring feat by Lewandowski, who scored all five of Bayern's goals in the space of nine minutes just after coming off the bench. The pick of the bunch, however, was undoubtedly his final strike, as he met a cross from the right with a stunning scissor-kick on the edge of the area. The ball cannoned off his right foot and into the top-left corner, leaving Pep Guardiola – his coach at the time – looking astonished.

Robert Lewandowski scored his 200th and 201st Bundesliga goals as Bayern Munich roared back to the top of the Bundesliga with a 5-0 mauling of Borussia Dortmund.

Lucien Favre's side arrived at Allianz Arena with a two-point lead at the top of the table but the momentum behind their title bid was ripped away in a devastating first half in the 100th league edition of Der Klassiker.

Mats Hummels made the first incision with a commanding header and Lewandowski, a fellow former Dortmund star, reached his scoring milestone with a superb solo effort seven minutes later.

Javi Martinez and Serge Gnabry assured Bayern's ascendancy to top spot by adding two more in almost as many minutes late in the opening period and Poland international Lewandowski fittingly completed the rout in the 89th minute as the champions took a big step towards retaining their crown.

 

Robert Lewandowski has scored the 200th Bundesliga goal of his career, fittingly saving it for a potentially season-defining Der Klassiker against Borussia Dortmund.

The Bayern Munich striker punished a Dan-Axel Zagadou error in the 17th minute to double his side's early lead against his former employers at Allianz Arena on Saturday.

Lewandowski pounced on a turnover, strode through on goal, brilliantly dinked the ball over Roman Burki and stroked home into the unguarded net to reach the mark in style.

The 30-year-old's milestone strike fittingly arrived against the side at which he established himself as one of the most exciting strikers in European football, having joined Bayern from Dortmund in 2014.

It was at the Signal Iduna Park where he really rose to prominence, scoring 74 Bundesliga goals in 131 appearances, a remarkable record considering he managed just eight in 33 games during his first campaign.

Despite his exceptional form at Dortmund, the club did not manage to get a transfer fee for him, as he departed on a free transfer to Bayern.

Since then, he has gone on to score 126 times in the Bundesliga for Bayern.

He has taken just 153 appearances to reach that figure for the German champions, while he hit the 200 milestone in 284 top-flight outings.

Of the 200, 187 were scored inside the penalty area, while 22 of a possible 25 came from the penalty spot.

Unsurprisingly he has been most prominent with his right foot, which has provided 131  goals, and his favourite opposition is Wolfsburg, whom he has scored against 20 times in 17 games.

Lewandowski is the Bundesliga's all-time leading foreign scorer and is on course to top the division's scoring charts for a fourth time this season. Only Gerd Muller (seven) has done so more times.

Borussia Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke insists "nobody has contacted" the club to ask about the availability of teenage forward Jadon Sancho.

A number of European football's biggest names have been tipped to make a move for the England international, who has scored eight Bundesliga goals this season and set up a league-high 13.

Sancho, who left Manchester City in 2017, is rumoured to be high on Manchester United's list of targets ahead of the reopening of the transfer window.

Watzke has claimed numerous times the 19-year-old is not for sale at any price, however, which has seemingly put rival clubs off making an approach.

Asked about the growing interest in Dortmund's prized asset, Watzke told Goal and DAZN: “I don't care about that. Everybody knows that Jadon will play for us next year. 

“That's a fact and we don't have a price tag for him. And because everybody in Europe knows that nobody has contacted us.”

As well as earning links to an array of top sides, Sancho was also capped for the first time by England last October and has gone on to make three more appearances, most recently catching the eye in last month's Euro 2020 qualifier against the Czech Republic.

City are among those said to be in the running to re-sign their former player, who left without making a senior appearance under Pep Guardiola.

But asked if City have a buy-back clause or first refusal should Sancho become available, Watzke added: “We never give information about contract details but City has no co-determination right at all.”

Regardless of Sancho's future, Dortmund are expected to strengthen their squad at the end of the season and they have been linked with a move for Bayern Munich defender Mats Hummels.

Watzke does not expect the experienced centre-back to return to North Rhine-Westphalia, though, adding: “I don't think so. Mats had an outstandingly successful time here and I still have a good relationship with him. But he decided to go back to Bayern three years ago.”

Dortmund lead Bayern by two points at the top of the Bundesliga table ahead of Saturday's Der Klassiker.

Former Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich coach Ottmar Hitzfeld believes Lucien Favre's men have crucial "momentum" going into this weekend's Klassiker.

Dortmund travel to Munich with a two-point advantage over their title rivals after Bayern surprisingly dropped points against Freiburg last time out.

With only six rounds of games remaining after Saturday's match at the Allianz Arena, a win would be a huge boost for either side.

Hitzfeld – who coached Dortmund between 1991 and 1997 before two spells in charge of Bayern – expects a fierce battle, but believes the current pacesetters have an advantage given the last-gasp nature of their win against Wolfsburg last weekend.

They appeared to be heading for a disappointing draw before two stoppage-time goals from Paco Alcacer handed them all three points.

"The momentum is in Dortmund's favour because they just had a sense of achievement in their last match," Hitzfeld told Omnisport.

"In the last few minutes they score two goals. This, of course, brings self-confidence and that brings a special mood. And you have seen that too. They even released pictures from the dressing room as the players celebrated. This is something really special.

"And Bayern suffered a setback in Freiburg, although in my view Bayern did not play badly. They were clearly superior and had many chances, but they did not score."

Bayern scraped past second-tier Heidenheim 5-4 in Wednesday's DFB-Pokal quarter-final, albeit having played much of the game with 10 men, leading to coach Niko Kovac warning his players that they need to show defensive "discipline and responsibility" against Dortmund.

That is an assessment Hitzfeld agrees with and the 70-year-old believes Bayern could be in a for a difficult game if they do not tighten up at the back.

"The deciding factor will be for Bayern to get back their stability," he added.

"It will be a special challenge for Bayern’s defence. They need to perform as a team, not just the defence but also the midfield and the attack. All 11 players need to work well.

"They must try to keep the danger away from their goal and need to attack early so that Dortmund have trouble getting into their rhythm.

"Continuity and confidence are missing as they’re not used to being the ones chasing. That has left marks on them. You can tell as they find it difficult to have a relaxed approach to matches."

The Bundesliga title will not be decided at the Allianz Arena on Saturday, but both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund can take giant steps towards besting their rivals.

Dortmund lead the way with a two-point advantage from Bayern, who slipped up at Freiburg last weekend, but Lucien Favre's men have looked nervy at times in recent weeks.

Bayern, of course, have made a habit of plucking away Dortmund's leading lights in the last few years and, assuming he recovers from illness, Robert Lewandowski will lead the line.

The Poland striker is one away from scoring his 200th Bundesliga goal and is a mandatory pick in our combined XI for Der Klassiker, but who else makes the cut?

 

GOALKEEPER: Roman Burki

It has been a difficult season for Manuel Neuer, whose long-held status as Germany's number one has come under threat after some erratic displays. Roman Burki is therefore selected almost by default, but eight clean sheets and 72 per cent of the shots he has faced being saved earns his place.

RIGHT-BACK: Joshua Kimmich

Kimmich's haul of 10 assists in the Bundesliga this season is remarkable and it is no wonder he has strongly suggested he wants to play in midfield rather than at the back. Kimmich's 1,993 passes in the Bundesliga this season is more than any other player.

CENTRE-BACK: Niklas Sule

Sule is not far behind Kimmich, recording 1,913 passes, and the centre-back has become a key part of the Bayern back line, taking Jerome Boateng's regular place. A rare sour note in his breakthrough Bayern campaign was the first red card of his career, collected against Heidenheim in the DFB-Pokal this week.

CENTRE-BACK: Manuel Akanji

Injury issues have marred Akanji's season but he has arguably been Dortmund's star defender despite being restricted to 18 Bundesliga appearances. His passing accuracy is among Dortmund's highest in the Bundesliga so far this term, while he has won 61.3 per cent of his duels.

LEFT-BACK: Achraf Hakimi

Dortmund's loan deal for full-back Hakimi has been a roaring success, but he will be absent on Saturday due to injury. A broken metatarsal means the Real Madrid defender is unlikely to play again this season, but Dortmund will still be keen to seal a permanent deal for the 20-year-old, who has been tracked at 35.1km/h this season, making him BVB's fastest player.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Leon Goretzka

Bayern's sole midfield representative is Goretzka, who won January's Bundesliga player of the month award in recognition of his fine form at the start of the year. With six goals and four assists in the league this season, the former Schalke star has shone for Niko Kovac's side. He is a major threat in the air that Dortmund will have to defend against.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Axel Witsel

Few signings in Europe's top five leagues this season can claim to have Witsel's impact, the Belgium midfielder proving the key piece in the puzzle for Favre after joining from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian. He has started 25 Bundesliga games, scoring three times, while his accurate passing – comparable to Akanji's – has been key for BVB.

ATTACKING MIDFIELD: Marco Reus

Dortmund captain Reus has been remarkably consistent this term and the birth of his child before the game means he is free to lead his side against Bayern. Only Paco Alcacer has scored more than Reus' 15 Bundesliga goals for Dortmund this season, while a further six assists is a mark of the creativity he provides. Reus is a big-game player, too, having hit a brace in the reverse fixture. He has scored 10 goals in 24 appearances against Bayern.

RIGHT WING: Jadon Sancho

Sancho has been nothing short of a revelation for Dortmund this season, with the England international linked with a £100million move back to the Premier League. He has produced a combined 21 goals and assists for Dortmund, level with Reus, and it is frightening to think how good the 19-year-old could become. Sancho's 13 assists in the Bundesliga is easily the most in the league this term and his skills dazzle defenders on a regular basis.

STRIKER: Robert Lewandowski

Lewandowski was too ill to start in the DFB-Pokal this week, but came off the bench at half-time to score twice and provide an assist for Thomas Muller, with his late penalty sealing a 5-4 victory and semi-final spot. He is the league's top goalscorer on 19 this season and a further seven assists show he is unselfish too. No player has fired more than Lewandowski's 107 shots in the Bundesliga this season, while he has haunted his old club regularly, having scored eight times in his last four Bundesliga appearances against Dortmund.

LEFT WING: Serge Gnabry

With Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben approaching the end of their glittering careers, Bayern have needed young talent to break through in wide positions and Gnabry has done just that, becoming a key player for both club and country. The former Arsenal attacker has scored seven Bundesliga goals, but has never tasted victory in the league in his four appearances against BVB.

Niko Kovac's first campaign at the helm of Bayern Munich is set to be a mixed one, regardless of how it finishes, and similar can be argued for Robert Lewandowski's season.

There is little doubt that Poland international Lewandowski has been among the world's finest strikers for many years, having led great sides for Borussia Dortmund and Bayern.

Even this season he has been excellent in most regards, scoring 33 times in 38 appearances across all competitions, but with Bayern not running away with the Bundesliga title in typical fashion and crashing out of the Champions League in the last 16, general reflection is only natural.

Lewandowski was particularly disappointing as Bayern were dumped out of the Champions League by Liverpool, making very little impact in the two legs when his team-mates would have been looking to him to make the difference, while transfer rumours linking him with Real Madrid have gone quiet.

The criticism levelled at 30-year-old Lewandowski is that his inevitable decline has started – ahead of Saturday's visit of former club Dortmund in Der Klassiker, Omnisport examined whether he has actually begun to fade.

Goal frequency not what it should be

While no one will try to claim a record of 33 goals in 38 matches is anything but excellent, using the expected goals (xG) metric, he actually should have been even more effective this season.

According to xG – which identifies whether a player should have scored based on the quality of the chance – Lewandowski has found the net four times fewer than he could statistically be expected.

That is by far his worst such record since joining from Dortmund in 2014, with his 25-goal haul tallying up exactly with xG in his first season at Bayern.

The 2015-16 season was Lewandowski's best in terms of xG (+6), and that was followed by records of +5 and +1 in the following years, showing clear signs of decline in that respect.

Less effective with big chances

One element which feeds into Lewandowski's xG drop-off and goes some way to explaining it is his converting of so-called "big chances".

The Poland striker has been presented with an average of 1.6 of them per match, the most in a single campaign during his Bayern stay.

However, he has scored 47 per cent of them, a four per cent decline from last season and also worse than the 49 per cent conversion rate he posted in 2015-16.

Bayern creating fewer chances

Although not necessarily linked to xG, it is a fact that Bayern are creating fewer opportunities this season than at any other point in Lewandowski's career at the Allianz Arena.

With 529 opportunities crafted from 40 games, that is an average of 13.2 every match, 1.3 fewer than last season and well off the 15.2 they managed in each game the campaign before.

Lewandowski could point to his own assist contribution as a caveat for not getting quite as many goals, however, as he has set up nine, his best ever return.

Still ruthless, but a long-term concern looms

Despite a decreasing xG record, curiously Lewandowski has never converted a greater percentage of his overall chances in a Bayern shirt than he is doing so this term.

Of his goal-scoring opportunities this season, Lewandowski has found the net with 29 per cent, making it his most effective campaign in that regard.

It is a four per cent increase from last season, though his average of a goal every 102 minutes is 10 minutes worse.

Despite the fact Lewandowski's overall conversion rate and goals total remain impressive, when the aforementioned sections are taken into account, it can be argued he is showing evidence of decline.

His xG record combined with the general and big-chance conversion statistics suggest Lewandowski is wasting some opportunities he should be scoring and finding the net when he might not be expected to.

While the latter element is impressive, in the long run it is unlikely to be sustainable.

Niko Kovac has turned Bayern Munich's form around thanks to the support he received in the boardroom, according to the club's former head coach Ottmar Hitzfeld.

Speculation about Kovac's future has been present throughout his first season at the club, which has seen Borussia Dortmund lead the way in the Bundesliga title race.

But ahead of Saturday's crunch clash between the top two at the Allianz Arena on Saturday, defending champions Bayern know beating Dortmund will put them in pole position to win the Bundesliga once more.

Kovac's side are also through to the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal, having come through a thrilling 5-4 encounter at home to second-tier side Heidenheim despite Niklas Sule's early red card.

And although Kovac's suitability to coach Bayern has been questioned, with more high-profile managers such as Jose Mourinho linked with succeeding the Croatian, Hitzfeld remains sure he is the right man for the job.

When rumours Arsene Wenger was set to take charge peaked in October, Bayern president Uli Hoeness, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic held an extraordinary news conference to give Kovac their full backing and blast the media for their reporting.

And Hitzfeld feels support and trust from Hoeness, Rummenigge and Salihamidzic has helped Kovac to turn things around on the pitch, with Bayern having won 13 of their past 15 Bundesliga games to pile pressure on Dortmund.

"From day one I was convinced that Niko Kovac would master the switch to Bayern Munich," Hitzfeld told Omnisport. "He is a very meticulous coach who pays a lot of attention to details and he is a great motivator. 

"I had him as a player at Bayern Munich and even though he wasn't always a starter, he was always a team player and pushed the team. And he always contributed to the spirits being high in the team, which is very important. Especially coming from players who aren't always key players. 

"That shows the character and the focus. Tactically speaking, he worked wonders with Frankfurt. Especially, looking at the [DFB-Pokal] final where Bayern faced Frankfurt and he managed to surprise Bayern. 

"So he passed the exam, he managed to get through the rough patch they had in Bundesliga and fortunately Uli Hoeness and Karl-Heinz-Rummenigge continued to trust in him and continue to be convinced of him.

"That's paying off now and that’s why the consistency returned to Bayern's games."

Bayern could well end the season with a double of Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal titles or end up empty-handed but Hitzfeld backed Kovac to deliver silverware despite Champions League disappointment against Liverpool in the last 16.

"At Bayern you have to collect titles, that's what you’re hired for - for that and to develop the football," Hitzfeld added.

"That part Niko has managed, but obviously he will be measured by the titles he wins. That's true for every Bayern coach. But he still has [the] chance to win the double.

"And even if he wins, 'Only one title', he will have achieved the goals. Therefore I'm very positive that Niko Kovac will manage that."

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