By The Associated Press – Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac criticized Brazilian defender Rafinha on Thursday for complaining about a lack of playing time. Rafinha, who hasn’t played since Bayern’s 3-1 loss at Bayer Leverkusen on Feb. 2, made his displeasure known publicly after the 1-0 win over Hertha Berlin on Saturday. AP
“Nobody can put himself over the team, the club and the players – nor be so critical of the coach,” Kovac said, adding that the 33-year-old Brazilian had apologized in front of the team. “With that the issue is finished. It shouldn’t happen in this way.” Kovac, whose team faces a trip to third-place Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday, didn’t want to talk about Thomas Mueller’s situation. The Bayern forward has lost his starting place in recent weeks.
“From this day I will only speak about players who have played,” Kovac said. “Anyone else will come back in focus when they play.” Rafinha may yet play on Saturday because of an injury to left back David Alaba, though Kovac said the Austrian might be fit. The coach has greater concerns on the left wing with Franck Ribery out with a stomach bug and Kingsley Coman out with a torn muscle in his left thigh. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is doubtful with the flu and Leon Goretzka has an ankle injury, but reserve goalkeeper Sven Ulreich and defender Mats Hummels are fit again. Bayern trails Bundesliga leader Borussia Dortmund by three points with 11 matches to go.
Bayern have won 10 of their past 11 Bundesliga games to move within just three points of leaders Borussia Dortmund. They travel to Monchengladbach without Franck Ribery, though, who is suffering from a gastrointestinal infection, while there are concerns over Manuel Neuer, who missed training on Thursday with the flu. Kovac, however, insists injuries and illnesses will not derail Bayern as they bid to win a seventh consecutive Bundesliga title. “We are at the business end now,” he added. “We won’t let the injuries get the better of us. “We need all three points, even though it will be a difficult game.”