Bayern Munich will look to capitalise on their win over Wolfsburg as they face AEK Athens in the third matchday of the UEFA Champions League this Tuesday.
After a winless run of four games, Bayern Munich bounced back to winning ways last weekend, securing a 3-1 win over VfL Wolfsburg. The German champions will now seek to register back-to-back wins as they travel to Greek capital Athens to face AEK on Tuesday.
This will be their third match in the UEFA Champions League group stage, having secured four points in their first two matches. In the last matchday, Bayern Munich were held to a 1-1 draw by Ajax Amsterdam, meaning a win could be imperative this week as they aim to finish in the top spot.
For the moment, the Bavarians are trailing Ajax at the top of the table, due to an inferior goal difference. But, a win against AEK could potentially put them in a great position, especially with Ajax facing a stern test against Benfica this midweek.
Speaking of AEK, they have lost both of their group stage games so far this season, notably slumping to a 3-0 defeat to Ajax in the opening game. That being said, they have done well on the domestic front this season and are coming on the back of a two-game winning streak, with their latest victory coming against Apollon Smyrni in the Greek Superleague on Saturday.
And here at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over both the sides ahead of their enticing clash this midweek.
Team news & tactics
AEK will be missing out on the services of Helder Lopes and Marko Livaja, who scored in the 2-0 win over Apollon Smyrni on the weekend. Both of them are suspended while key striker Ezequiel Ponce is doubtful after suffering a knock on Saturday. He will be assessed ahead of the game along with Petros Mantalos, Alef, Christos Albanis and Marios Oikonomou, all of whom are deemed doubtful to start this week.
With so many players doubtful, coach Marinos Ouzounidis will be forced to make a few alterations in his starting eleven. Michalis Bakakis will replace right-back Rodrigo Galo Brito while Niklas Hult will retain his place on the opposite flank.
In central defence, Ouzounidis will resort to his trusted defensive duo of Dmytro Chygrynskiy and Vasilios Lampropoulos.
Konstantinos Galanopoulos will start at the base of AEK’s 4-2-3-1 alongside Andre Simoes with Viktor Klonaridis being deployed as the lone attacking midfielder.
Klonaridis scored a brace in the narrow defeat over Benfica earlier this month and could play a key role in this fixture. Anastasios Bakasetas will occupy the wider attacking positions along with Petros Mantalos.
Mantalos will play a key role having scored the opener in the win over Apollon Smyrni along with Ezequiel Ponce, who is expected to shrug off his injury to start versus Bayern this midweek.
Probable lineup (4-2-3-1): Barkas; Bakakis, Chygrynskiy, Lampropoulos, Hult; Galanopoulos, Simoes; Bakasetas, Klonaridis, Mantalos; Ponce.
Bayern Munich are not expected to make any real alterations despite a gruelling schedule up ahead. Manuel Neuer will start in between the sticks, screened by a back-four consisting of Joshua Kimmich, Niklas Sule, Mats Hummels and Rafinha.
Rafinha, in particular, will be starting ahead of David Alaba, who was subbed off at half-time in the win over Wolfsburg, while Sule will likely be rewarded with another start following a solid display against the Wolves. Hummels, on the other hand, will be tasked with the responsibility of marshalling the backline, especially after an impressive display on Saturday.
Leon Goretzka could be given a start over Javi Martinez in the central defensive midfield role while Thiago Alcantara will be deployed alongside Thomas Muller in central midfield. James Rodriguez is expected to start on the bench with Niko Kovac having one eye on the crucial Bundesliga match against Mainz this coming Saturday.
Franck Ribery is slightly doubtful with a back trouble, meaning Serge Gnabry could once again start on the flanks along with Arjen Robben with Robert Lewandowski leading the attack.
Lewandowski starred in the win over Wolfsburg last weekend, scoring a brace while providing an assist for Rodriguez’s third goal. His return of form could be a huge boon for Bayern as they look to oust AEK in the Champions League this midweek.
Probable lineup (4-1-4-1): Neuer; Kimmich, Sule, Hummels, Rafinha; Goretzka; Robben, Muller, Alcantara, Robben; Lewandowski.
- This will be the first competitive meeting between the two sides although Bayern have prevailed in their previous three trips to Athens.
- Bayern Munich have an excellent record against Greek rivals, securing seven wins in nine matches.
- Bayern’s last visit to Athens dates back to 2015, where Thomas Muller scored a brace in their 3-0 win over Olympiacos.
- After ending their 14 game unbeaten record in European competitions earlier this season, AEK have now lost two back to back matches.
- Bayern are unbeaten in their past six away games in Europe (W5, D1).
Player to watch
After being benched in the win over Wolfsburg on Saturday, Thomas Muller will have a point to prove this midweek as he seeks to redeem himself after yet another disappointing start to the campaign.
Indeed, the German international has struggled throughout the course of this season, often appearing tentative which is coupled with his lack of consistency. Therefore, a strong display against AEK Athens will be an ideal way to make a statement and ideally regain the trust of coach Niko Kovac.
Muller will be deployed as the attacking midfielder alongside Thiago Alcantara, whose ingenuity in midfield could potentially overshadow Muller’s work-rate. Therefore, the 29-year-old is certainly a player worth looking forward to this midweek.
AEK 0-2 Bayern Munich
Coming on the back of a morale-boosting 3-1 win over VfL Wolfsburg, Bayern Munich are more than favourites to seal all three points in this encounter considering their individual quality which is coupled with AEK’s own problems in the Champions League this season. Thus, we can expect the Bavarians to emerge as comfortable 2-0 victors this week.