Bayern Munich will be looking to resume their Bundesliga campaign on a winning note as they face Bayer Leverkusen at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich will be facing their biggest test so far this season as they host Bayer Leverkusen this Saturday. Though the rivalry between these two German supergiants has been somewhat squashed in recent years due to Bayern’s sheer dominance in German football, Leverkusen have somehow managed to rise from the ashes under Heiko Herrlich and could provide a strong competition.

The Bavarians are currently topping the league standings, thanks to wins over Hoffenheim and Stuttgart in their first two matches this season. Following a nervy game against Hoffenheim, the champions bounced back really well against Stuttgart in their last game and thus, coach Niko Kovac will be hoping his side can maintain their winning momentum this weekend.

Leverkusen, on the other hand, haven’t had the best of starts this campaign, tasting defeat in both of their matches. Though it can be argued that the factory giants have had a pretty tough starting schedule, having to play against three of the Bundesliga giants in their first three matches this season.

Leverkusen are currently second from bottom in the league table and are one of four clubs yet to register a single point so far. But, Herrlich should be confident that his team can provide a strong fight against the mighty Bayern on Saturday afternoon.

And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the sides before their highly anticipated clash this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

Bayern Munich

Niko Kovac doesn’t have any reason to make any changes to the side that won against Stuttgart. Thus, we could expect Bayern to line up with a 4-1-4-1 formation with Manuel Neuer in goal.

Mats Hummels, however, might be left on the bench, especially considering Jerome Boateng’s form in the last game. The former Manchester City star will partner young Niklas Sule in central defence with Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba occupying the wide defensive roles.

LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY - APRIL 17: Thiago of Bayern celebrates after he scores the 4th goal during the DFB Cup semi final match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Bayern Munchen at BayArena on April 17, 2018 in Leverkusen, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

The main showrunner. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Kimmich has been a huge influence this season, thanks to his brilliant ball rotating qualities as well as his accurate crosses. But, it will be interesting to see how he deals with the sheer pace of Leon Bailey this weekend.

In midfield, Javi Martinez will be taking care of the defensive midfield spot with Thiago Alcantara complementing him from a slightly advanced position. The former Barcelona star was arguably Bayern’s player in the last game. His creativity and industry could prove to be very crucial for the Bavarians.

With Kingsley Coman out injured, Kovac will be forced to opt for the attacking duo of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben in the wider positions.

And finally, the attack will be led by none other than Robert Lewandowski. The Polish international has had a promising start to the campaign, scoring two goals in two matches. But, the onus will be on Thomas Muller, who is certainly looking like the real deal under the leadership of Kovac this season. The German international has already notched up two goals and two assists in the opening matches and will be keen to extend his tally against Leverkusen.

Probable lineup(4-1-4-1 formation): Neuer; Kimmich, Boateng, Sule, Alaba; Martinez; Robben, Thiago, Muller, Ribery; Lewandowski.

Bayer Leverkusen

Having suffered defeat in both of their matches this season, coach Heiko Herrlich is untitled to make a few changes to his team this weekend though it’s likely that the customary 4-2-3-1 formation will remain the same.

Ramadan Ozcan has had a very mixed start to the season but it’s time Leverkusen call-up their new signing and number one keeper Lucas Hradecky. The former Frankfurt keeper will be featuring for Leverkusen for the first time this season.

LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 06: Kai Havertz of Leverkusen celebrates after he scores the 4th goal during extra time during the DFB Cup quarter final match between Bayer Leverkusen and Werder Bremen at BayArena on February 6, 2018 in Leverkusen, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Havertz to make a difference? (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

In defence, Sven Bender will return to the side, replacing the horrendous Aleksandar Dragovic. Bender will partner Jonathan Tah in central defence while the duo of Mitchell Weiser and Wendell will retain their place in the wider defensive positions.

Herrlich could also opt to start with the industrious Charles Aranguiz in midfield. The Chilean international always adds an extra bit of flair whenever he’s playing and along with club captain Lars Bender, he will be tasked with the responsibility of stopping the likes of Thiago and Muller this weekend.

Deploying Kevin Volland in attacking midfield proved to be a horrendous decision in the last game. As a result, the former Hoffenheim striker might actually be shifted into a lone striker with youngster Kai Havertz replacing him in attacking midfield. He will be partnered by the wide duo of Julian Brandt and Leon Bailey.

Probable lineup(4-2-3-1): Hradecky; Weiser, Bender, Tah, Wendell; Bender, Aranguiz; Brandt, Havertz, Bailey; Volland.

Key stats

  • Robert Lewandowski makes his 200th competitive appearance for Bayern in this game. He has scored six times in the club’s first four matches under Kovac.
  • Leverkusen forward Kevin Volland has never been on the winning team against Bayern (two draws, 10 defeats). However, he did score the joint-fastest Bundesliga goal of all time against the Bavarians in August 2015, netting after just nine seconds for Hoffenheim.
  • Leverkusen coach Herrlich worked as a youth coach at Bayern between 2013 and 2015.
  • Bayern coach Kovac played for Leverkusen between 1996 and 1999, while his brother (and assistant coach) Robert also laced his boots for Die Werkself between 1996 and 2001.
  • Leverkusen have lost their opening two Bundesliga matches for the first time since 1994/95.

Player to watch

Leon Bailey

LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 01: Leon Bailey of Bayer 04 Leverkusen in action during the Bundesliga match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and VfL Wolfsburg at BayArena on September 1, 2018 in Leverkusen, Germany. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Can Bailey make his mark against Bayern? (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Having already scored a ripper a couple of weeks ago, Leon Bailey’s performance could go a long way in shaping the fate of Bayer Leverkusen in this encounter. The Jamaican international has emerged as, not only a key player for his club, but also one of the most promising youngsters in European football in recent months. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how he manages to utilize his skills against the mighty Bavarians.

The personal duel between Joshua Kimmich and Bailey could be exciting, given the fact that both of these young players have impressed a lot and boast huge talent. Kimmich, in particular, has been excellent this season. But, he should be well aware of the fact that Bailey’s sheer pace and dynamism could create a lot of trouble, especially on the counter.

Prediction

Bayern Munich 3:1 Bayer Leverkusen

Despite Bayer Leverkusen’s sheer quality, Bayern are still expected to secure another easy victory this weekend given the fact that their opponent have looked very rusty in this early parts of the season. More often than not, Die Werkself have appeared very tentative while in possession, something that can’t be afforded against a team like Bayern.

The attacking duo of Brandt and Bailey out wide could be the only ray of hope for the Leverkusen fans. But even then, Bayern’s fullbacks in Kimmich and Alaba have looked incredibly solid so far and thus, the Bavarians should easily bag all three points this weekend.