Bay Arena, Leverkusen
Saturday, 18:30 GMT
Bayern Munich face Bayer Leverkusen today and after having secured the title last weekend, Bayern boss Pep Guardiola will most likely rest a few names as his side will face Barcelona in the coming week.
Leverkusen and Bayern met three weeks ago in the quarter-finals which went to penalties after the two sides played out a goalless draw in 120 minutes of football. This time though, Leverkusen will fancy their chances as they could face a weakened Bayern team.
Probable lineups and tactics
Bayer Leverkusen boss Roger Schmidt has persisted with a 4-2-3-1 more often than not and he could do the same against Bayern. Schmidt’s biggest problem, however, will be defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos as he has been ruled out for the rest of the season after dislocating his shoulder once again. Leverkusen no longer have the services of Emir Spahic to call upon and will have to play Tin Jedvaj in defence. The Croat will partner Omer Toprak in defence with Wendell and Roberto Hilbert playing as the full backs.
Bayern Munich will most likely try to dominate the midfield as they have done this season, and as a result, the duo of Lars Bender and Simon Rolfes will have their work cut out. Leverson have scored a lot of goals in recent weeks and will hope that the attack of Julian Brandt, Hakan Calhanoglu and Karim Bellarabi will provide the pace on the counter to hurt Bayern.
Calhanoglu’s missed penalty cost Leverkusen the three points last weekend, so he’ll hope to make up for his mistake and put in a good shift. Bayer have a lot of pace and trickery on the wings, but in Brandt, the also have a little bit of inexperience. The 18-year old did, however, score against Koln and will be eager to impress once again against the Champions. The same can be told about Bellarabi who has had a breakthrough season in this campaign. Stefan Kiessling has been brilliant of late after a disappointing two-thirds of a season. The 31-year old has scored four goals in the last four games and has set up two as well. He’ll lead the line for Schmidt.
Bayern boss Pep Guardiola will have to choose his side carefully simply because they have a lot of walking wounded and cannot afford to lose any more players ahead of their semi-final clash against Barcelona. Xabi Alonso could be rested and we might see Sebastian Rode playing in the holding midfield role with Juan Bernat and Mitchell Weiser playing as the wing backs in a 3-5-2 formation. Mario G tze and Bastian Schweinsteiger could start together in the slightly attacking midfield roles behind the striking duo of Claudio Pizzaro and Robert Lewandowski.
In defence, the trio of Dante, Jerome Boateng and Benatia are expected to start. Manuel Neuer will start in goal as usual ahead of Pepe Reina. Guardiola will obviously look for the win, but will be very happy if his side can even take a point with no one picking up knocks, something that has been an unfortunate feature of his side this season. Javi Martinez and Franck Ribery were back in training, and the duo could be given a few minutes later in the game. Club top scorer Arjen Robben is out for the rest of the season with a stomach muscle injury.
Probable XI: Neuer; Dante, Jerome Boateng, Benatia; Bernat, Rode, Schweinsteiger, G tze, Weiser; Pizzaro, Lewandowski
- Leverkusen have scored 13 goals in their last five Bundesliga games, six more than Bayern who have managed seven.
- Leverkusen were on a seven-game winning streak before last weekend’s draw against Koln.
- Bayern Munich have won their last five encounters against Leverkusen, but prior to that, Leverkusen had won three games in a row against the Bavarians.
Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Bayern Munich
Bayern’s league clinching win over Hertha Berlin last week could be a blessing in disguise for Leverkusen as Pep Guardiola’s men don’t have anything to play for in the league. That could mean that Leverkusen, who are chasing an automatic Champions League qualification spot, will go into the game with a very confident mood and could win the game.