bayern-munchen-munich-logo-crest(C)menaccessBayer_04_Leverkusen_logo_svg(c)footballbadgesguide

BAYERN MUNICH

v

BAYER LEVERKUSEN

. Allianz Arena, Munich
Saturday 29th August, 2015, 16:30 GMT

***

The record Bundesliga champions face their first major challenge of the season when they host an in-form Bayer Leverkusen on Matchday 3 at the Allianz Arena.

Both sides are tied at the top of the table along with Borussia Dortmund, having picked up the maximum possible six points from the first two games. With both sides playing some very attractive football, a great game lies in store:

Team news and tactics

Bayern Munich

The Bavarians, after a pretty comfortable start to the season, have a few concerns leading up to the game. The nervy but deserved 2-1 win at Hoffenheim last week saw first choice defenders Jerome Boateng sent off and Mehdi Benatia pick up a thigh injury, ruling both of them out. With Javi Martinez, Holger Badstuber and Jan Kirchhoff not fully fit, Pep Guardiola will have to rely on the sluggish Dante to lead the defence.

In midfield, Arturo Vidal and Xabi Alonso will provide the stability but Thiagoa s creativity maybe sacrificed for the more defensive minded Sebastian Rode, who is capable of slotting in at right-back as well. The front line picks itself with Douglas Costa, Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowki all in good form.

Ex-Leverkusen man Vidal faces former colleagues on Saturday and still maintains a good relationship with his old club. As usual, expect Pep Guardiolaa s side to dominate possession and rely on the explosive frontline to get past a sometimes unconvincing Leverkusen defence. Philipp Lahm and David Alaba may not be very influential in the build up play from midfield as they too will have to be alert defensively.

Possible starting XI (3-4-3): Neuer-Lahm-Dante-Alaba-Rode-Vidal-Alonso-Costa-Muller-Robben-Lewandowski

Bayern Leverkusen

On the back of a brilliant display in the Champions League midweek against Lazio, Roger Schmidta s side come into the tie well prepared and ready. However, last weeka s laborious 1-0 at Hannover means that the Werkself have not fully settled into this year’s Bundesliga yet.

Julian Brandt may miss out on the starting XI despite Heung-Min Sona s departure to Tottenham, considering Swiss striker Admir Mehmedia s midweek heroics. Stefan Kiessling should feature as the #9 and his physical presence should cause the Bayern defence a few problems.

Favouring a high intensity pressing game, Schmidt will rely heavily on the energetic midfield duo of Lars Bender and Christoph Kramer. The German internationals will be vital in not only stopping the Bayern offence, but also in pressurizing the opponents into making mistakes in their own half.

The long term injuries to Charles Aranguiz, Tin Jedvaj and Omer Toprak mean that options on the bench are limited, which could be a deciding factor given Leverkusena s exertions midweek.

Defenders Jonathan Tah, Kyriakos Papadopoulos have both seemed shaky and must play the game of their lives if they want to curtail the Bayern attack.

Possible starting XI (4-2-3-1): Leno-Hilbert-Tah-Papadopoulos-Wendell-Kramer-Bender-Mehmedi-Calhanoglu-Bellarabi-Kiessling

Players to Watch Out For

Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich)

Perhaps the best summer signing of the season, Douglas Costa has had a near perfect start to the season. The Brazilian has put in man of the match performances against both Hamburg and Hoffenheim and will look to once again terrorize defenders down the left wing. His crossing and incisive runs have been a major force in Bayerna s attacking game that already boasts of Muller and Lewandowskia s smart movements and Robbena s skill on the ball. Leverkusen right-back will certainly have his hands full if he hopes of containing Douglas Costa.

Prediction

Bayern Munich 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen
While Leverkusen managed to beat Bayern 2-0 last time the two sides met, they havena t managed a win at the Allianz Arena since October 2012. The fresher of the two sides, Bayern Munich seem to be the favourites on paper despite the lack of personnel at the back. Bayer Leverkusena s high pressing tactics will have to work to perfection on Saturday if they hope of snatching a point from Munich.

Blast From the Past

Fighting for Champions League qualification, a weak Bayern faced Jupp Heynckesa dominant Leverkusen in 2011 and left us with this spectacle: