Bayern Munich will look to capitalise on their strong start under Hansi Flick when they travel to Esprit Arena to face Fortuna Dusseldorf on Saturday.
It has been a dream start for interim Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick. The 54-year-old replaced Niko Kovac earlier this month after the Croatian mastermind was fired following a difficult start to the campaign. Since his dismissal, however, Bayern have managed to win both their matches against Olympiacos and Borussia Dortmund respectively.
The 4-0 triumph over Dortmund, in particular, could play a pivotal role in revitalising Bayern’s campaign. The Bavarians are currently third in the Bundesliga table, four points behind league leaders Borussia Monchengladbach. And despite the victory in the last game, Bayern are still running the risk of being overtaken by Dortmund if they fail to win against Fortuna Dusseldorf.
The Bundesliga minnows, who raised a lot of eyebrows last season, have been below par this campaign. They are currently 13th in the league table with 11 points on the board. Only the bottom three clubs in Mainz, Koln and Paderborn have lost more matches than Dusseldorf so far this campaign.
Having said that, the Flingeraner are coming on the back of a strong display against Schalke, notably drawing 3-3. They also secured a 2-0 win over Koln and are undefeated in their last three fixtures in all competitions. And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two teams ahead of their important match-up in the Bundesliga this weekend.
Tactics & Team News
It won’t be surprising to see Friedheim Funkel name an unchanged eleven from the side that drew with Schalke in the last game. Rouwen Hennings is set to lead the attack once again after scoring a hat-trick against the Royal Blues. The former Burnley forward will be partnered by Dawid Kownacki.
Funkel is likely to persist with a five-man backline, with Kaan Ayhan starting at the heart of the defence. The former Manchester City defender’s commitment and doggedness at the back could be critical against the mighty attack of Bayern. He will, however, receive additional defensive support from Kasim Adams and Andre Hoffmann.
These three are likely to employ a deep-defensive line, meaning the main objective will be to contain the pressure from the Bayern attackers and try to frustrate them with the solid shape and rigidity at the back.
Key midfielder Kevin Stoger has been ruled out along with Aymen Barkok and Thomas Pledl. However, it will be redundant for Dusseldorf, who are expected to employ a defensive approach against Bayern. Hence, the likes of Adam Bodzek and Alfredo Morales are more likely to start.
Probable Lineup (5-3-2): Steffen; Zimmer, Ayhan, Hoffmann, Adams, Gießelmann; Zimmermann, Bodzek, Morales; Kownacki, Hennings
Flick has taken some important decisions since taking over charge, notably benching both Thiago Alcantara and Philippe Coutinho against Dortmund. He is unlikely to revert those changes, meaning Thomas Muller could once again start as the number ten, just behind the main striker, Robert Lewandowski.
Thiago’s absence in midfield, meanwhile, will pave the way for Joshua Kimmich to operate as the number six. Leon Goretzka will continue to feature as the number eight in the double-pivot, which will look to provide transition and dominate possession.
Bayern, however, are a little shorthanded in defence. Niklas Sule and Lucas Hernandez have already been ruled out with their respective injuries while Jerome Boateng is still serving his suspension. Flick, therefore, will once again be forced to deploy David Alaba at centre-back alongside Javi Martinez.
Both the players have performed extremely well and fans will be hoping for the same time this around. They will be supported by the wide-defensive duo of Benjamin Pavard and Alphonso Davies.
And in attack, Serge Gnabry is a guaranteed starter at right-wing. Kingsley Coman is likely to get the nod ahead of Ivan Perisic on the opposite flank, though the latter may feature in the Champions League fixture against Crvena Zvezda.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Martinez, Alaba, Davies; Kimmich, Goretzka; Gnabry, Muller, Coman; Lewandowski
- Rouwen Hennings scored his first-ever hat-trick in the 3-3 draw with Schalke.
- Only Union Berlin’s Rafal Gikiewicz (46) has saved more shots on his goal than Fortuna’s Zack Steffen (43).
- Dusseldorf have not beaten Bayern in their last eight attempts since a 3-1 triumph in the DFB Cup second round back in September 1995.
- Lewandowski’s 16 goals after the first 11 games is a new Bundesliga record. He needs one more to match Gerd Muller’s record of 17 after 12 matchdays but the Pole has never scored against Düsseldorf.
- Since succeeding Niko Kovac, Flick has overseen victories over Olympiacos and Dortmund. Bayern have not conceded a single shot on target in those 180 minutes of football.
Player to Watch
Davies moved one step closer to making a breakthrough at Bayern Munich by providing a brilliant display against Borussia Dortmund in the last game. He was initially deployed at left-back, as a deputy for the injured Hernandez, whose absence forced Alaba to play in central defence.
Davies was dealt with the mammoth task of keeping Jadon Sancho at bay. But, the Canadian was up to the challenge, often leaving his marker devoid of time and space. As a result, Sancho struggled to make runs in behind the backline or run with freedom after receiving the ball.
Davies keeping Sancho in his pocket was critical behind Bayern’s success. And with the youngster set to receive another first-team opportunity this weekend, it will be interesting to see whether or not he can make an even bigger impact against Dusseldorf this weekend.
Fortuna Dusseldorf 1-2 Bayern Munich
Fortuna Dusseldorf have always proved themselves to be a difficult team to beat, especially for giants like Dortmund and Bayern. They have hard-working players, who execute a deep, rigid defensive shape quite well. And we could expect more of the same this weekend and given Hennings’ form, they might even be able to score a goal or two. But at the end of the day, the Bavarians are the clear favourites to seal all three points.