Bayern Munich will seek to return to winning ways as they travel to Piraeus to face Olympiacos in the UEFA Champions League.
Bayern Munich are in absolute control of Group B in this edition of the UEFA Champions League. They have won their first two matches, one of which ended in an incredible 7-2 triumph over last season’s finalists Tottenham Hotspur. Yet, there are tensions brewing in the air ahead of their travel to Piraeus on Tuesday.
It is mainly because of the fact that the Bavarians have failed to win their last two matches. A shocking 2-1 defeat to TSG Hoffenheim was followed by an even more disappointing 2-2 draw with neighbours FC Augsburg. As a result, the defending champions are dawdling in the third position in Bundesliga, having already dropped nine points.
Olympiacos, on the other hand, have enjoyed an excellent start to their domestic campaign. The Attica outfit are leading the Greek Super League table with 19 points in seven matches, two points ahead of second-placed PAOK Salonika. However, a shocking defeat to Crvena Zvezda in Europe sees them right at the bottom of Group B.
Hence, the primary objective for the Greeks would be salvage at least a point against a Bayern side, who have looked susceptible at the back. And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of this enticing encounter in the Champions League this midweek.
Tactics & Team News
Olympiacos are coming on the back of a narrow 2-1 win over Crete, with El Arbi Hilal Soudani scoring a brace. However, the former Nottingham Forest star might have to settle for a place on the bench as manager Pedro Martins is likely to take a more defensive approach.
That means Miguel Angel Guerrero will start as the lone forward, though he will be provided optimal creative support from Mathieu Valbuena. Youngster Maximiliano Lovera was given a start against Crete but the Argentine may have to make way for Giorgos Masouras at right-wing, with Daniel Podence starting on the opposite flank.
Club captain and key midfielder, Konstantinos Fortounis has been ruled out for the rest of the year with an ACL injury. Therefore, Guilherme and Andreas Bouchalakis will once again form the double-pivot in Olympiacos’ 4-2-3-1.
And finally, in defence, veteran Vasilis Torosidis will be replaced by Omar Elabdellaoui at right-back while Leonardo Koutris could continue on the opposite flank. The central defensive pairing will comprise of Ruben Semedo and Yassine Meriah, with Jose Sa starting in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Sa; Elabdellaoui, Semedo, Meriah, Koutris; Bouchalakis, Guilherme; Masouras, Valbuena, Podence; Guerrero
Bayern Munich were blessed with the return of Lucas Hernandez, David Alaba and Leon Goretzka last week. But at the same time, they also lost Niklas Sule while Jann Fiete Arp has also failed to make the trip. Sule will likely be replaced by Hernandez. The former Atletico Madrid star will be partnered by Benjamin Pavard at the heart of the Bayern backline.
Alaba is tipped to start as well in his customary left-back slot, with Joshua Kimmich also returning to his right-back duties.
Kovac will have a selection dilemma in midfield, especially after Javi Martinez performed well against Augsburg. That means he will have to choose only one among Goretzka, Corentin Tolisso and the Spaniard, with Thiago Alcantara a guaranteed starter.
Given Martinez’s age, we expect the Croatian to opt Goretzka, who made his first Bundesliga start on the weekend against Augsburg.
In attack, Ivan Perisic is tipped to replace Kingsley Coman while Thomas Muller might finally receive a rare opportunity, in place of Philippe Coutinho. Serge Gnabry is guaranteed inclusion in the starting lineup along with top scorer Robert Lewandowski.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Kimmich, Pavard, Hernandez, Alaba; Thiago, Goretzka; Gnabry, Muller, Perisic; Lewandowski
- Olympiacos have lost all four of their European meetings against Bayern Munich, losing twice in the 1980-81 European Cup and twice in 2015-16 Champions League.
- Bayern’s 100% win-ratio in four European Cup/Champions League meetings with Olympiacos is their joint-best, also winning all four games against Besiktas and CSKA Moscow.
- Bayern Munich are unbeaten in all 11 of their UEFA European matches against Greek opponents, keeping clean sheets in their last eight meetings with teams of that nation.
- Olympiacos have lost eight of their last ten Champions League matches, drawing the other two. They are winless since November 2015, when they secured a narrow 2-1 victory over Dinamo Zagreb.
- Bayern registered their 12th Champions League victory by 5+ goals in their 7-2 win at Spurs on MD2, joint-most by any team along with Barcelona; only four teams have won by 5+ in back to back games, with one of those Bayern themselves on March 2009, beating Sporting CP twice.
Player to Watch
Lewandowski is more than a guaranteed starter against Olympiacos as Bayern have no alternatives at all, especially with Fiete Arp failing to make the trip to Greece. The Polish international has been in sensational scoring form throughout this calendar year.
He has already netted 16 goals in all competitions this season, with three of them coming in the Champions League. And the ex-Borussia Dortmund star will certainly look to add to his tally against an Olympiacos side, who have often appeared susceptible when dealing with top-quality opponents.
Lewandowski has the chance of becoming the most prolific scorer in Europe’s top-five leagues in 2019, ahead of players like Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi. And scoring against the Greeks will help a lot in that regard.
Olympiacos 0-4 Bayern Munich
European matches often appear as excellent opportunities for Bayern to recover their winning form and this week could be no different. The Bavarians are coming on the back of a two-game winless streak but will have an excellent chance of sealing a comprehensive victory against the Greeks. Expect them to score a lot of goals this week.