Bayern Munich will look to reclaim the top spot from Borussia Dortmund when they travel to Merkur-Spiel Arena to face Fortuna Dusseldorf.
Bayern Munich entered the week with a lead over Borussia Dortmund for the first time since September, thanks to a romping 5-0 win over the Black and Yellows last weekend. However, with Lucien Favre’s men beating Mainz 2-1 on Saturday, the Bavarian giants slipped down to the second place, with a two-point gap to the top.
The German champions will look to climb back to the top of the Bundesliga standings, as they head into the final phase of the campaign. However, they will be dealt with a tricky test against Fortuna Dusseldorf as they travel to the Merkur-Spiel Arena.
The newly promoted Dusseldorf produced one of the biggest upsets in the Hinrunde when Dodi Lukebakio’s hat-trick helped Die Flingeranger to come from behind to seal a 3-3 draw with the Bavarians in the reverse fixture.
Dusseldorf have been in incredible form in the Ruckrunde, having won six out of their 11 league matches, three of which came since the start of March. As a result, the Bundesliga new boys are enjoying their mid-table status and could once again give Bayern a run for their money.
That being said, Niko Kovac’s men are in astounding goalscoring form, having scored 23 goals in their last five domestic matches, including wins over Dortmund and Wolfsburg.
And here, at the Hard Tackle, we take a look at both the sides ahead of this highly anticipated encounter in the Bundesliga on Sunday.
Team News & Tactics
Friedhelm Funkel will be dealt with a lot of injury-related absentees this weekend, with Jaroslav Drobny nursing a hand injury while Niko Gieselmann and Oliver Fink are also ruled out due to their respective injuries. In addition, key right-back Jean Zimmer could miss out with an ankle problem.
With Zimmer out, Matthias Zimmermann is guaranteed to start on the right-back, with Markus Suttner deployed on the opposite flank. Both of these full-backs will play a key role in stopping Bayern’s threat from wide areas of the pitch as well as providing additional defensive cover for the central defenders.
Speaking of central defenders, Funkel will resort to the trusted duo of Kaan Ayhan and Marcin Kaminski at the heart of Dusseldorf’s four-man backline.
With Fink missing out, Dusseldorf are likely to employ a classic 4-4-2, which will pave the way for Kevin Stoger and Adam Bodzek to form the double pivot. The two midfielders will look to neutralize the threat provided by the technically astute Bayern Munich playmakers.
Dodi Lukebakio, on the other hand, will occupy the wide midfield role along with Marcel Sobottka, who is likely to operate in a deeper role when compared to Lukebakio on the right flank, in order to provide additional protection against the runs of Joshua Kimmich.
And finally, the Dusseldorf attack will be spearheaded by Benito Raman, who is the club’s top scorer with nine goals this season. He will be partnered by David Kownacki, whose physical prowess could be useful against the Bayern defence.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Rensing; Zimmermann, Ayhan, Kaminski, Suttner; Lukebakio, Stoger, Bodzek, Sobottka; Kownacki, Raman.
Franck Ribery is suffering from an illness while Corentin Tolisso is continuing his recovery from a knee injury. But, on a positive note, coach Niko Kovac hasn’t been dealt with any fresh injuries going into this game. Therefore, we can expect the Croatian mastermind to opt for a similar lineup he used in the win over Dortmund last weekend.
Minimal changes are expected in defence, where the likes of Joshua Kimmich, David Alaba, Niklas Sule and Mats Hummels will all retain their place in the starting eleven. Hummels, in particular, was the most influential player in the last game and his imposing presence at the back will surely help Bayern keep the tricky Dusseldorf at bay this weekend.
Thiago Alcantara is a guaranteed starter alongside Javi Martinez at the base of Bayern’s 4-2-3-1. Martinez will be tasked with the responsibility of providing defensive cover for the backline while Thiago will operate as the ball-carrier in half-spaces. His distribution could also be useful as Bayern look to dominate proceedings.
Kovac is unlikely to make any notable changes to the side which secured a 5-0 win over Dortmund, meaning the attacking trifecta of Kingsley Coman, Thomas Muller and Serge Gnabry are all expected to retain their place in the starting lineup.
They will be deployed just in behind central striker Robert Lewandowski, who is currently the league’s top scorer with 21 goals. James Rodriguez will provide an additional option to Kovac in the attacking department.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Kimmich, Sule, Hummels, Alaba; Martinez, Alcantara; Gnabry, Muller, Coman; Lewandowski.
- Promoted Dusseldorf are on track for a second successive season of Bundesliga football for the first time since 1996.
- Fortuna have taken 28 points from their last 14 matches. Only three teams have fared better in that time.
- Dodi Lukebakio became the first Bundesliga player to score a hat-trick past Manuel Neuer in the reverse fixture. The Watford loanee is on eight goals for the campaign.
- Bayern were fifth in the table, nine points behind Dortmund, following their 3-3 draw with Fortuna on Matchday 11. The Bavarians have won the title on 23 of the 25 occasions in which they have topped the table after Matchday 28.
- Robert Lewandowski has plundered eight of his 21 Bundesliga goals so far this season in his last five matches. Fortuna are the only current Bundesliga club against whom he is yet to score.
Player to Watch
All eyes will be on Lukebakio as he looks to repeat his antics against Bayern Munich in the reverse fixture earlier this season. The Belgian attacker, who is on loan from Watford, scored an impressive hat-trick to salvage a point for his side in what was one of the best performance by an individual against Bayern in recent years.
Lukebakio was the leading attacker for Dusseldorf in that game but we expect the 21-year-old to operate in a wider midfield role. He can inject more pace and dynamism into the Dusseldorf, which could be useful as they are likely to employ a counter-attacking approach whilst employing a deep-block defensive system.
Therefore, the general plan will be to create turnovers in midfield through excessive pressing, after which, Dusseldorf will look to free Lukebakio on the far side. Bayern have often looked susceptible against pacy attackers this season, making the Belgian one of the players to keep an eye on in this enticing fixture.
Fortuna Dusseldorf 0-3 Bayern Munich
Despite the poor result in the reverse fixture, Bayern Munich have significantly improved under Kovac during the second half of the campaign. In addition, the Bavarians have done remarkably well in front of goal, of late, making them the clear favourites going into this clash. We expect a comfortable 3-0 win for the visitors.