Bayern Munich will look to regain their place at the top of the Bundesliga table as they face FC Augsburg in the Bavarian derby.

The Bundesliga will witness its first Bavarian derby of the season as Bayern Munich travel to WWK Arena to face FC Augsburg on Saturday. It will be a must-win game for the visitors, who have slipped to third in the league table following a shocking 2-1 defeat to TSG Hoffenheim, just before the international break.

The defending champions have already dropped seven points in the league so far and the fans will hope to see them bounce back to winning form against their neighbours. A defeat, however, could allow Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig to potentially climb above them in the table.

As for Augsburg, they have had an uneventful start to the campaign. In seven matches, Die Fuggerstadter have claimed only five points. The main reason behind their downfall this season has been the lack of solidity at the back. In fact, only bottom club SC Paderborn have conceded as many goals as Augsburg. They are also one of the lowest scorers in the league.

Therefore, the hosts will mainly be looking to contain the pressure from Bayern and salvage at least one point. And here, the Hard Tackle takes a look at both these sides ahead of this important clash in the Bundesliga this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

FC Augsburg

Augsburg will be boosted by the return of key defender Jeffrey Gouweleeuw. He also featured in the friendly against Austria Lustenau and we can expect him to start against Bayern Munich tomorrow. The Dutchman will be partnered by new signing Felix Udokhai at the heart of Augsburg’s four-man backline.

AUGSBURG, GERMANY - OCTOBER 30: Jeffrey Gouweleeuw of Augsburg runs with the ball during the DFB Cup match between FC Augsburg and 1. FSV Mainz 05 at WWK-Arena on October 30, 2018 in Augsburg, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Can Gouweleeuw’s return solve Augsburg’s defensive problems? (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Elsewhere in defence, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Philipp Max are likely to occupy the full-back slots despite a horrendous display against Borussia Monchengladbach in the last game. They will be in for an even busier afternoon tomorrow.

However, Augsburg have received another injury boost as Daniel Baier is now in contention after returning from an injury. The veteran midfielder is a guaranteed starter in the double pivot, alongside Rani Khedira. Both these midfielders, however, are likely to operate as auxiliary centre-backs during defensive phases. Alternatively, coach Martin Schmidt can employ two blocks of four.

Marco Richter is likely available for the hosts. The young German sensation will get the nod ahead of Iago and the injured Andre Hahn on the right wing, while Ruben Vargas is a guaranteed starter on the opposite flank.

And finally, the Augsburg attack will be led by Iceland star Alfred Finnbogason. The talismanic striker will be partnered by Florian Niederlechner, who has scored some important goals this season.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Koubek; Lichtsteiner, Udokhai, Gouweleeuw, Max; Richter, Baier, Khedira, Vargas; Finnbogason, Niederlechner

Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich have been blessed with the return of Leon Goretzka and Lucas Hernandez. But, none of these two players are likely to be risked by coach Niko Kovac along with David Alaba, who was struggling with an injury as well.

GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 19: Leon Goretzka of Schalke 04 gives an interview before the Bundesliga match between FC Schalke 04 and Hamburger SV at Veltins-Arena on November 19, 2017 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Goretzka is closing in on his return. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

That means Benjamin Pavard could once again play the role of a makeshift left-back. As a result, Joshua Kimmich will continue to operate as a right-back – just like he did the last time out against Hoffenheim. It will be interesting to see if he can integrate into his old slot for the next few matches.

Pavard playing as left-back means Jerome Boateng and Niklas Sule are guaranteed starters in central defence. However, they need to be sharp against an Augsburg side, who are known for their counter-attacking prowess.

With Kimmich playing as a defender, Corentin Tolisso is expected to retain his role in central midfield. He will be partnered by Thiago Alcantara in the double-pivot, with Javi Martinez also an option.

In attack, Thomas Muller is likely to start given his Bavarian heritage. The German international will replace Serge Gnabry, who has been struggling with a muscle injury. Muller will be partnered by Philippe Coutinho and Kingsley Coman in the creative department. The Bayern attack will be spearheaded by Robert Lewandowski.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Kimmich, Sule, Boateng, Pavard; Thiago, Tolisso; Muller, Coutinho, Coman; Lewandowski

Key Stats

  • Augsburg have lost 13 of their 16 Bundesliga meetings with Bayern and are winless in their last eight games against them. Their last victory came in May 2015, at the Allianz Arena.
  • Augsburg have a higher loss percentage(81%) against Bayern than they do against any other Bundesliga side.
  • Bayern average 2.47 points per game in the Bundesliga against Augsburg – more than against any other current Bundesliga team.
  • Augsburg have won just one of their last 12 competitive matches.
  • Augsburg had never conceded more than 19 after goals the first seven games of a Bundesliga season, prior to this campaign. The 31 goals they have shipped in their last nine Bundesliga outings represents a negative club record in such a timeframe this millennium.

Player to Watch

Ruben Vargas

FREIBURG IM BREISGAU, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 21: Ruben Vargas of FC Augsburg looks on prior the Bundesliga match between Sport-Club Freiburg and FC Augsburg at Schwarzwald-Stadion on September 21, 2019 in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. (Photo by Robert Hradil/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Vargas will be looking to make an impact against Bayern. (Photo by Robert Hradil/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Very few would back Augsburg to cause an upset in tomorrow’s encounter. But, if they do, it would be due to their sharpness on the counter. And to that end, new signing Vargas could play an important role, especially with Hahn ruled out due to an injury.

Vargas has impressed the onlookers in the Bundesliga this season, with his speed, skills and goalscoring abilities. He has already netted thrice in seven games. As a result, he won his first cap for the Switzerland national team back in September.

Vargas’ pace on the break coupled with his trickery on the flanks could be crucial in breaking down the vulnerable defensive pairing of Sule and Boateng. Hence, the visitors should keep tabs on the 21-year-old sensation this weekend.

Prediction

Augsburg 0-4 Bayern Munich

Augsburg’s defensive problems are yet to be solved under Schmidt, which is a reason why they have failed to make a turnaround. And while they will be boosted by the return of both Baier and Gouweleeuw, it’s unlikely they will be able to handle the pressure of the mighty Bayern attack. We expect a 4-0 win for the defending champions.

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