Bayern Munich will seek to bridge the gap between league leaders Dortmund and get their domestic campaign back on track as they travel to Bremen on Saturday.
It has been a tough season for Bayern Munich so far, who have failed to lay their dominance in the Bundesliga, having already dropped 15 points. As a result, coach Niko Kovac has been under the microscope in recent months and his reign could soon come to an end, should the Bavarians fail to win against Werder Bremen on Saturday.
However, Bayern are coming on the back of a sensational 5-1 win over SL Benfica in midweek’s Champions League fixture. The win will surely serve as a huge boost especially disappointing performances against Borussia Dortmund and Fortuna Dusseldorf in their last two league matches and Kovac will be hoping that his team will be able to continue their winning momentum against Bremen this weekend.
Speaking of Bremen, they have struggled a bit in recent weeks, especially after a thunderous start to the season. In fact, the North German giants are winless in their last three matches and have conceded 12 goals in the last four league games – squishing their excellent defensive record earlier in the campaign.
That being said, Bremen have some firepower going forward and will surely provide a great deal of threat on the counter. And considering Bayern’s susceptible defending in recent months, Die Grun-Weissen will be confident of their chances against the German champions this weekend.
The Hard Tackle, meanwhile, runs the rule over both the sides ahead of their crucial encounter at the Weserstadion on Saturday.
Team news & tactics
Switching to a pendulating back three or back five against a strong team has become a trend nowadays and Bremen coach Florian Kohfeldt could do the same this weekend against Bayern.
We can expect a 3-4-1-2 formation, where Sebastian Langkamp will be included as the addition centre-back alongside Milos Veljkovic and Niklas Moisander. Theodor Gebre-Selassie and Ludwig Augustinsson will be deployed as the wingback although the latter will likely camp himself in his own half, largely due to the offensive prowess of Augustinsson.
With Philipp Bargfrede out injured, Nuri Sahin will once again be starting at the base of Bremen’s 3-4-2-1 alongside Maximilian Eggestein, who has been one of the most impressive young midfielders in the league so far this season. Eggestein’s incredible stamina will play a key role as Bremen look to implement a high-pressing game in midfield.
Davy Klaassen will be deployed as the lone attacking midfielder, just in behind two main strikers in Max Kruse and Martin Harnik. However, Milot Rashica could play a key role in the second half as his dynamism often becomes useful in the latter stages of the game.
Probable lineup (3-4-1-2): Pavlenka; Veljkovic, Langkamp, Moisander; Gebre-Selassie, Eggestein, Sahin, Augustinsson; Klaassen; Kruse, Harnik.
Kovac will be delighted to hear that the likes of Thiago Alcantara, Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman are almost on the verge of returning to full fitness. However, none of them are expected to feature in this clash.
But, the Croatian mastermind will be more than happy to stick with the same side that registered a 5-1 win over Benfica. Thus, Rafinha will once again start as the right-back while David Alaba starts on the left and in central defence, Niklas Sule will partner Jerome Boateng amid a growing spat between Mats Hummels and the coach.
Kovac will once again refrain from starting Javi Martinez as his lack of pace could seriously be exploited by the energetic Eggestein. As a result, Joshua Kimmich will be deployed as the lone defensive midfielder in Bayern’s 4-1-4-1.
Leon Goretzka and Thomas Muller will be deployed further forward, though Goretzka is likely to operate in a deeper role, looking to provide additional support to Kimmich while using his excellent shooting prowess to become a threat from long-range.
Muller, on the other hand, will work around the likes Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery in the final third as the trio look to provide adequate service to the main striker Robert Lewandowski, still fresh after scoring a brace against Benfica on Tuesday.
Probable lineup (4-1-4-1): Neuer; Rafinha, Sule, Boateng, Alaba; Kimmich; Robben, Muller, Goretzka, Ribery; Lewandowski.
- FC Bayern München have kept 3 clean sheets in their 4 Champions League games this season, one more than in their 12 Bundesliga games.
- In four of the last six seasons, Bayern picked up at least 12 points more than any other team on the matchdays 13 to 34.
- The Bavarians have also kept six clean sheets in the last seven encounters against Werder Bremen in all competitions.
- Werder Bremen have lost all of their last 14 matches against Bayern in all competitions.
- Bayern are nine points adrift of leaders Dortmund heading into Matchday 13. The last time they were this far off the Bundesliga summit was at the end of the 2010/11 season.
Player to watch
The likes of Robert Lewandowski, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery have all impressed in Bayern’s huge win over Benfica on Tuesday. But, it’s Thomas Muller, who has found a real rhythm to his game in recent weeks, especially after the end of the international break earlier this month.
Muller’s return of form could be a huge boon for Niko Kovac and his men as the German international is blessed with the ideal set of qualities that could help the Bavarians bounce back.
Indeed, his ability to carve out spaces using his clever positioning and neat touches is exactly what Bayern require against a side like Bremen, who love to defend in deep blocks.
Werder Bremen 1-2 Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich have struggled to keep regular clean sheets in the Bundesliga and that struggle may continue even though the Bavarians are widely expected to seal all three points in this one, especially after a morale-boosting win over Benfica in midweek.