Niko Kovac Expecting Response from Muller, Boateng, Hummels After Germany Axing

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistMarch 7, 2019

MUNICH, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 07: Renato Sanches of Bayern Muenchen, Jerome Boateng of Bayern Muenchen, Leon Goretzka of Bayern Muenchen, Mats Hummels of Bayern Muenchen, Thomas Mueller of Bayern Muenchen, Joshua Kimmich of Bayern Muenchen and Serge Gnabry of Bayern Muenchen after winning the Group E match of the UEFA Champions League between FC Bayern Muenchen and AEK Athens at Allianz Arena on November 7, 2018 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

Bayern Munich manager Niko Kovac is expecting a response from Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels after all three of players were axed from Germany's national team. 

The DFB, Germany's football association, announced on Tuesday that Muller, Boateng and Hummels were no longer part of manager Joachim Low's plans.

Kovac told reporters he's anticipating a show of class from his players: "I know that my players were surprised by Low's decision. But they are real pros, and they know how to handle this situation in a serious way. I even expect, especially in the coming weeks, a response from them to show and prove that they are still part of the best."

All three players were part of the Germany team that exited the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia during the group stage.

Die Roten are level on points with Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund and host Wolfsburg on Saturday, but perhaps Kovac's most pressing concern is Wednesday's clash with Liverpool in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

Kovac led his side to a pleasing 0-0 draw at Anfield in their first leg of that meeting, giving Bayern hope of beating the Premier League club to a quarter-final spot when they face off again on Wednesday.

Muller, who scored 38 goals in 100 appearances for his country, took to Instagram upon hearing he had been cut from the national team and expressed his disappointment (h/t DW Sports):

DW Sports @dw_sports

Thomas Müller's full reaction to being permanently dropped from the German national team... https://t.co/RMkb8hS5gJ

Both Boateng and Hummels have been in and out of Bayern's starting XI this season, with Niklas Sule, 23, taking over as the main constant in central defence. 

That could signal a changing of the guard at the Allianz Arena, too, considering 22-year-old Stuttgart defender and 2018 FIFA World Cup winner Benjamin Pavard has agreed to join Bayern this summer.

Bayern released a statement following the announcement to exile Muller, Boateng and Hummels, questioning the timing of the decision and pointed to the trio's combined 246 Germany caps.

Goal's Ronan Murphy provided the statement in full:

Ronan Murphy @swearimnotpaul

Full statement from Bayern Munich on Löw’s decision to axe Boateng, Hummels, and Müller before the Liverpool #UCL game: #FCBayern #DFB #DieMannschaft #LFC https://t.co/30Ai9NV2jQ

Commentator Kevin Hatchard said the manner in which Muller, Boateng and Hummels were informed of their international retirement was disrespectful:

Kevin Hatchard 🎙⚽️ @kevinhatchard

@KeithCostigan It’s disrespectful, and it makes Loew look weak, like he wasn’t strong enough to phase them out gradually or just not select them. Also, Boateng’s form’s been poor, but not inconceivable that the other two could play their way into contention for Euros.

Kovac has capitalised on Dortmund's dip in form and could take Bayern top of the Bundesliga if they beat Wolfsburg and the Black and Yellows falter at home against Stuttgart.

Die Roten are still in with a chance of winning the treble this season, and the Croat's trio of axed stars will be particularly motivated to show Germany's manager what he's missing.