Allianz Arena, Munich
Saturday 11th September, 2015, 19:00 IST
The return of Bundesliga action following the international break is marked by the Bavarian Derby on Saturday when Bayern Munich host FC Augsburg at the Allianz Arena.
Both sides have started the season in contrasting styles with Bayern winning all three of their games and Augsburg managing to just grab onto a solitary point, leaving them near the bottom of the table. However, recent history suggests that the game will be anything but one-sided as Augsburg managed to win 2 of their last 3 games versus Bayern.
Nine points, ten goals scored and just one conceded in 3 games. It has been business as usual for Bayern in the Bundesliga so far, but they face a tricky opponent in Augsburg. Thirteen of Bayerna s players were involved in International action the last week and fatigue may mean that Pep Guardiola could be forced to tinker with his side a bit.
Sporting director Matthias Sammer and Guardiola have stressed that new arrival from Juventus, Kingsley Coman, could go straight into the starting XI after impressing in training. Arjen Robben was phenomenal against Leverkusen the last time around, but will miss Saturdaya s game due to a knock sustained during the international break. This could mean that Douglas Costa may start the game from his preferred role on the right wing. Mario G tze put in a fine performance against Poland in Frankfurt which could warrant his inclusion in the team as well. The well rested Thiago and Arturo Vidal will provide the energy and creativity in the midfield needed to provide service to the lethal front line. Javi Martinez, Jan Kirchhoff and Holger Badstuber are all nearing their comebacks from injury but the Augsburg game comes a bit too early for them.
Guardiolaa s experiment of playing Xabi Alonso and David Alaba as centre-backs worked to perfection against Bayer Leverkusen and with Jerome Boateng the only fit centre-back, the experiment may continue for a while longer.
Possible starting XI (4-2-3-1): Neuer-Lahm-Alonso-Boateng-Alaba-Vidal-Thiago-Costa-G tze-MA?ller-Lewandowski
Till date, manager Markus Weinzierl remains the only Bundesliga coach to have beaten Guardiola twice but seems to have run out of steam this season after guiding Augsburg to a lofty 5th placed finish last season.
Despite an easy opening set of fixtures, Augsburg have picked up just a solitary point, leaving them near the bottom of the table. The Europa League participants lost by a single goal to Hertha Berlin and Ingolstadt earlier but managed a sweaty draw against Eintracht Frankfurt.
Augsburg travel to Munich with no significant injury concerns and Piotr Trochowski may make his long awaited return to Bundesliga football on Saturday. However, the team spirit will be at a low following rumours of an off-field altercation between manager Weinzierl and a few players.
New signings Philipp Max and Kostas Stafylidis will once again fight for the left-back position and Tim Matavz may find himself on the bench in favour of the Brazilian Caiuby. Hong Jeong-Ho, who has had a pretty decent start to the season could also retain his spot ahead of Jan Ingwer Callsen-Bracker.
The pace and physical presence of Paraguayan international Raul Bobadilla along with Daniel Baiera s efficient distribution from midfield will be Augsburga s hope of pulling off an upset. The experience of defenders Ragnar Klavan and Paul Verhaegh will be hugely important in warding off the Bayern attack.
Possible starting XI (4-1-4-1): Hitz-Verhaegh-Klavan-Hong-Stafylidis-Baier-Bobadilla-Kohr-Koo-Werner-Caiuby
Blast from the past:
Remember the time when Bayern went through 53 games unbeaten in the Bundesliga? Well, Augsburg were the team who ended that brilliant run back in 2013-14 with a single goal from fan-favourite Sascha M lders, deciding the tie. It was also Pep Guardiolaa s first defeat in the Bundesliga, although he had already wrapped up the League title by then.
Player to watch:
Douglas Costa (yet again):
Perhaps the best summer signing of the season, Douglas Costa has had a near perfect start to life at Munich. The Bayern player of the month will look to once again terrorize defenders down the wing after putting in man-of-the-match performances versus Hamburg and Hoffenheim. His crossing and incisive runs have been a major force in Bayerna s attacking game that already boasts of MA?ller and Lewandowskia s smart movement. The Augsburg full-backs will certainly have their hands full, if they hope of containing the attacking trio, the in-form Brazilian in particular.
Although Markus Weinzierl will want to get the better of Pep Guardiola for the third time, it will be a tough prospect for him. Bayern are the more tired of the two sides, but the sheer quality in the team should be enough to guide them to a win over a struggling Augsburg.
Bayern Munich 2-0 Augsburg