Bayern Munich will be aiming to leapfrog RB Leipzig at the top of the table when they travel to Benteler Arena to face Paderborn on Saturday.
Bayern Munich enjoyed a good time last week. After a draw with RB Leipzig almost a fortnight ago, the Bavarians were convincing 3-0 winners against Crvena Zvezda in the UEFA Champions League. Die Roten followed that up with an equally impressive 4-0 triumph over 1.FC Koln last weekend.
Not only that, but Bayern were also boosted by Borussia Dortmund’s draw against Eintracht Frankfurt. As a result, they now have a one-point lead over their rivals. The defending champions are still trailing table-toppers RB Leipzig by two points. But, with the Roten Bullen facing a tricky test against Schalke this weekend, Bayern could potentially overtake them with a win at Paderborn.
The newly-promoted Bundesliga outfit, Paderborn, have not done quite well since securing top-flight status. They are the only side in the league yet to secure a single victory. As a result, Steffen Baumgart’s men are dawdling right at the bottom of the table, with just one point on the board.
In fact, the last time Paderborn had won a ninety-minute match came way back in May, which is quite a disturbing fact for a fan. 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.
Team News & Tactics
Paderborn head coach Steffen Baumgart has appeared pretty stubborn as far as sticking to his 4-4-2 shape is concerned. It is unlikely he is going to change anytime soon, meaning we can expect the hosts to employ a deep defensive block and a narrow midfield unit, which will operate as a second line of press.
Sven Michel and Ben Zolinski will lead the line for Paderborn. But most importantly, they will be expected to put pressure on the two central defenders. Streli Mamba, however, is also pushing for a start, having already netted two goals this term.
Sebastian Vasiliadis is a guaranteed starter in midfield. The German will be partnered by Klaus Gjasula and the duo will operate in a compact shape, trying to isolate the Bayern Munich midfielders as much as they can.
Elsewhere, Paderborn have Cauly and Christopher Antwi-Adjei as the two wide midfielders. The pair will more or less join the central midfielders, thus forming the second block of four, with two strikers upfront.
But, the only difference in this formation is that the two full-backs Mohamed Drager and Jamilu Collins are not expected to move forward at all. Instead, they will contain the pressure from the Bayern Munich wingers.
The experience of Uwe Hunemeier and Christian Strohdiek could be vital in this encounter. But, at the same time, their lack of pace could potentially make them liabilities against a pacy Bayern Munich attack. Drafting youngster Luca Kilian into the first-team might not be a bad option.
Prediction Lineup (4-4-2): Huth; Drager, Strohdiek, Hunemeier, Collins; Cauly, Vasiliadis, Gjasula, Antwi-Adjei; Zolinski, Michel
Niko Kovac will have a serious selection dilemma, especially with the Croat having one eye on the important Champions League fixture against Tottenham Hotspur next midweek.
David Alaba has returned to training but is not expected to feature this weekend. That means Lucas Hernandez will once again deputise for the Austrian at left-back, while Benjamin Pavard will also retain his role on the opposite flank. Bayern do not have many options in the defensive department, meaning Jerome Boateng and Niklas Sule should once again form the central defensive pairing.
It is the midfield department where changes may occur. Joshua Kimmich will retain his role as the holding midfielder. But, we may see Mickael Cuisance earning his full debut for his new club, having featured on as a substitute last weekend.
In attack, Serge Gnabry is the only reliable option on the right wing. But, Philippe Coutinho might be given a breather along with both Ivan Perisic and Kingsley Coman, meaning Canadian sensation Alphonso Davies is poised to earn a start here, on the opposite flank.
Robert Lewandowski will lead the Bayern Munich attack. It would have been much easier for Kovac if Jann-Fiete Arp was fit. Nonetheless, Lewandowski will look to extend his scoring tally in the Bundesliga and will be supported by Thomas Muller, just in behind. The German international will replace Coutinho in the no. 10 role.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Sule, Boateng, Hernandez; Kimmich, Cuisance; Gnabry, Muller, Davies; Lewandowski
- Bayern Munich have won each of their four competitive meetings with Paderborn with a goal record of 21-1.
- Despite picking up just one point so far, Paderborn have scored in each of their five Bundesliga games this season.
- 71% of Bundesliga teams who were without a win after five matchdays, as Paderborn currently are, have eventually avoided relegation at the end of the season.
- Paderborn have lost both of their opening two Bundesliga home games this season. Fellow promoted side Koln are the only other team without a home point so far this season.
- Robert Lewandowski has scored three goals more (9) than Paderborn have in the Bundesliga this season (6).
Player to Watch
It could be a great opportunity for Cuisance to make an impression Niko Kovac, after joining from Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer. The Frenchman is yet to receive a single start for his new club and has featured in only 30 minutes of Bundesliga action so far.
But, against a lowly Paderborn side, Cuisance could thrive, especially alongside the composed figure of Joshua Kimmich at the base of Bayern Munich’s 4-2-3-1. The 20-year-old’s ability to carry the ball across the half-spaces would be tested while he will also be expected to create chances for his team, especially with neither of Thiago Alcantara and Philippe Coutinho expected to play.
Corentin Tolisso has not been able to perform as brightly as fans had expected. And Cuisance should take full advantage of that situation to gain a more prominent role in the first-team.
SC Paderborn 0-4 Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich have been in an excellent scoring run, of late. And they are expected to continue that form against a Paderborn side whose dearth of quality among their ranks could lead to their demise not just in this game but in this entire season as well. A 4-0 win for the visitors is what we are predicting.