Bayern Munich will resume their UEFA Champions League campaign with a trip to Serbia to face Red Star Belgrade, with a point making them Group B winners.
Champions League action will be back for the first time since the international break and Bayern Munich will travel to Serbia to take on Red Star Belgrade on Matchday 5 of their Group B clash at the Rajko Mitic Stadium.
The Bavarians have already qualified for the Round of 16 and a point here will make them the group winners. Bayern, apart from PSG, are the only team to have maintained a perfect record from their first four group games. Hansi Flick’s men have been in tremendous form ever since his arrival and are coming to this game on the back of 4-0 win over Fortuna Dusseldorf in the Bundesliga.
On the other hand, Red Star Belgrade will look to secure something from this game and with their passionate home supporters in tow in addition to Bayern having already secured qualification to the knockout stages, it opens the door slightly for Vladan Milojevic’s side. Red Star will be eyeing a positive result out of this clash as it can help them secure a Europa League berth.
In the reverse fixture between the two sides, played at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Bayern Munich had a few hiccups, although the scoreline of 3-0 would not suggest so. However, that time they were under Niko Kovac and the transformation from Kovac to Flick has been very noteworthy.
Team News and Tactics
Red Star Belgrade
Vladan Milojevic will miss the likes of Milan Pavkov and Branko Jovicic in attack and midfield, respectively. Other than that, the Red Star Belgrade boss has a fit squad to chose from. He will look overturn the last two results against Tottenham and try and salvage a point against Bayern.
Milojevic is expected to start with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Canadian custodian, Milan Borjan being the first-choice between the sticks. Marko Gobeljic and Milan Rodic will take up the right and left-back spots, respectively, with Nemanja Milunovic and Milos Degenek forming the central defensive pairing.
The experienced former Swansea City midfielder Jose Canas will provide stability in the middle of the park, with Jovancic playing beside him in a double pivot. Former Chelsea and Werder Bremen midfielder, Marko Marin will be the man with the creative impetus, looking to venture forward and capitalise on the space in behind the Bayern defence.
Argentine youngster, Mateo Garcia and Dutch winger, Rajiv van La Parra will provide width to their play on either flank with Tomane leading the lines for the Serbian outfit.
Predicted Lineup (4-2-3-1): Borjan; Gobeljic, Degenek, Milunovic, Rodic; Jovancic, Canas; Garcia, Marin, Van La Parra; Tomane
Hansi Flick does not have any fresh injury concern to deal with ahead of the trip to face Red Star Belgrade, with Jann-Fiete Arp, Niklas Sule and Lucas Hernandez out with long-term injuries, while Jerome Boateng is likely to return after serving a suspension. David Alaba has not travelled with the squad, as the Austrian defender is awaiting the birth of his child.
Things have worked really well under Flick and, therefore, the Bayern Munich board has decided to carry on with him at least till Christmas. Flick is expected to field a strong lineup and may opt for a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Manuel Neuer keeping his place in goal.
Jerome Boateng will walk into the squad in place of David Alaba in central defence, while Javi Martinez keeps his place. Benjamin Pavard will continue as the right-back and Canadian youngster, Alphonso Davies can also expect his name on the starting lineup after a string of impressive performances.
Joshua Kimmich will slot in midfield alongside Leon Goretzka. Both players have been in great form in national colours and will look to replicate that here as well. Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman will continue to feature on the wings, with Thomas Muller playing off Polish goal machine, Robert Lewandowski.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Boateng, Martinez, Davies; Kimmich, Goretzka; Gnabry, Muller, Coman; Lewandowski
- Bayern Munich and Red Star Belgrade have met six times in European competitions, with Bayern winning thrice (D1 L2). But, Die Roten have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of the six matches.
- Red Star Belgrade lost their last two matches in the Champions League against Tottenham by margins of 4-0 and 5-0. If they continue that tradition then they will only be the third side to lose by 4 or more goals in three successive matches after Dinamo Zagreb in the 2011-12 season and Malmo FF in 2012-13 season.
- Bayern Munich, under Hansi Flick, have had a tremendous start with 3 wins and 13 goals scored while conceding just one shot on target.
- Bayern Munich are 11 UEFA Champions League away matches without defeat (W8 D3), their longest ever unbeaten run on the road in the competition.
- Red Star Belgrade have lost only two of their last 15 European matches in Belgrade (W7 D6) and only three of their last 22 (W11 D8).
Player to Watch
Muller has been heavily criticised for his lack of goals in the last few seasons and he also struggled for minutes under Niko Kovac. But, the 30-year-old has always delivered when needed and under Flick, he has developed a different level of understanding to his play, which has improved him as a player. With seven assists in the Bundesliga this season, Muller has shown his worth as a player.
However, his quest to find his shooting boots is still on and with Flick’s presence in the Bayern dugout the experience midfielder will get enough chances to prove himself. Muller scored a last-minute goal in the reverse fixture after coming on from the bench and he will look to repeat that feat this time away from home.
Red Star Belgrade 0-4 Bayern Munich
Red Star Belgrade have failed to produce any surprise element till now in the Champions League group stage. They lost back-to-back matches against Tottenham by good margins in a period where Spurs were struggling to no end. Although they managed to beat Olympiacos, pulling off a positive result against an in-form Bayern Munich will be a monumental task for Vladan Milojevic’s men.
The difference in quality is staggering and considering the compactness in Bayern’s defence nowadays, Red Star will hardly get a sneak in. The Hard Tackle predicts a comfortable 4-0 win for visitors, making them the Group B winners ahead of Tottenham Hotspur.