Bayern Munich will be eyeing a place at the top of the Bundesliga table when they host 1.FC Koln at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.
After a disappointing 1-1 draw with RB Leipzig, Bayern Munich have a had a positive week so far. They secured a hard-fought 3-0 win over Crvena Zvezda in their opening match of the UEFA Champions League Group Stage in midweek.
They will seek to use that momentum when they lock horns with Koln at the Allianz Arena on Saturday. The Bavarians will be desperate for a win, which could potentially help them overtake rivals Borussia Dortmund and Leipzig. The latter are sitting pretty at the top of the league table with ten points on the board.
Koln, meanwhile, have been pretty unlucky in the competition. The newly-promoted Bundesliga outfit are dawdling at the bottom end of the table, having secured only three points in four matches. They are coming on the back of a narrow defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach in their last game, where an early Alassane Plea goal turned out to be the difference between the two sides.
And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of this crucial match-up in the Bundesliga this weekend.
Tactics & Team News
Niko Kovac made quite a few changes against Crvena Zvezda in midweek. He is expected to revert those changes, though Jerome Boateng could come into the side. The ex-Manchester City will accompany Niklas Sule at the heart of Bayern’s four-man backline.
Boateng’s inclusion means Benjamin Pavard will return to his right-back duties while his compatriot Lucas Hernandez will continue to deputise for the injured David Alaba.
Speaking of injuries, Leon Goretzka’s continued absence will once again force Kovac to deploy Joshua Kimmich in a midfield role. The German international will operate as a number six, replacing Corentin Tolisso, who Bayern should really consider selling next summer.
Kimmich will be partnered by the ever-present figure of Thiago Alcantara. The Spaniard starred in the win over Zvezda in midweek and will once again play a key role this time around.
Furthermore forward, Philippe Coutinho will be rewarded as a starting berth, after an impressive display against Red Star. He will be operating as the number ten, with Serge Gnabry and Ivan Perisic operating as wide-attackers. The Bayern attack will be spearheaded by the in-form Robert Lewandowski.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Sule, Boateng, Hernandez; Kimmich, Alcantara; Gnabry, Coutinho, Perisic; Lewandowski.
Koln head coach Achim Beierlorzer was likely to persist with the 4-4-2 setup. But, Birgir Verstraete’s injury means we could witness more of a 4-5-1 or a 4-1-4-1, with Ellyes Skhiri featuring as the holding midfielder. The new signing Montpellier has made a quick impact in the Bundesliga this season.
He will play a critical role as Koln look to nullify the threat provided by the Bayern Munich midfielders. Skhiri will be partnered by Louis Schaub and Marco Hoger, who will deputise for the injured Verstraete.
Schaub, meanwhile, will play a more attacking role, making the Koln shape look like a 4-2-2-2 with Dominik Drexler and Kingsley Schindler being the other attackers. Both Drexler and Schindler are expected to operate as wide attackers. The Koln attack will be led by Jhon Cordoba, though Beierlorzer could later use Anthony Modeste as a substitute.
In defence, Sebastiaan Bornauw could be replaced by Jorge Mere, who was left out on the bench in the last game. The Spaniard could be partnered by Rafael Czichos at the heart of Koln’s four-man backline.
Elsewhere, Kingsley Ehizibue will operate as the right-back, with Jonas Hector featuring on the opposite flank. Timo Horn, meanwhile, will retain his place in between the sticks as the German international looks for his first clean sheet of the campaign.
Probable Lineup (4-5-1): Horn; Ehizibue, Mere, Czichos, Hector; Schindler, Schaub, Skhiri, Hoger, Drexler; Cordoba.
- Bayern have won nine of their last ten Bundesliga meetings with Koln. Their last loss came in Koln in February 2011.
- Bayern’s last home defeat against Koln came in February 2009, with Jurgen Klinsmann as manager.
- Each of the last four matches between these two sides at the Allianz Arean that have taken place during the Oktoberfest have all ended in draws. Bayern’s last home win over Koln during this period came in September 1984.
- No side has won more away games in the Bundesliga against FC Bayern than Koln(9, same as Borussia Dortmund).
- After drawing 1-1 in Leipzig, Bayern sit fourth in the BL table with eight points. The last time they had so few points after four games was in 2014/15 campaign. They still won the league by ten points in the corresponding season.
Player to Watch
Crvena Zvezda gave Bayern Munich quite a run for their money in midweek, despite what the scoreline may suggest. And it won’t be surprising to see Koln doing the same this weekend, having already performed well against Borussia Dortmund.
Should the visitors manage to implement their defensive plan against Bayern, right-back Ehizibue is sure to play a key role. The new signing from PEC Zwolle has already raised quite a few eyebrows so far this campaign.
The 24-year-old’s pace could cause terror for the Bayern defence, especially Hernandez, who lacks the usual speed of David Alba at left-back. Besides, Ehizibue is also a threat from the counter while he can recover a lot of ground as well – making him the one to watch out for in this encounter.
Bayern Munich 2-1 Koln
Koln could give Bayern Munich a run for their money with their pace on the break. Besides, the aggressive nature of their strikers is sure to put pressure on the opposing defenders. But, thanks to the home advantage, we expect Bayern to edge this one out.