Bayern Munich will be hoping to maintain their place at the top of the Bundesliga table when they lock horns with FC Augsburg in the Bavarian derby on Sunday.
Bayern Munich have had a superb start to 2020, having won eight of their nine matches in all competitions. The only time they failed to secure a victory was against RB Leipzig, who are apparently their closest competitors along with Borussia Dortmund, having also performed well in the Ruckrunde.
Hence, winning the Bavarian derby will be vital for Bayern as they aim to retain their place at the top of the table. They did, however, drop points against Augsburg in the reverse fixture earlier this campaign, when a late goal from Alfred Finnbogason helped FCA seal a late point.
That being said, Augsburg have had a disastrous start to Ruckrunde. They have secured only one victory in seven Bundesliga matches. As a result, they are dawdling at the wrong end of the table.
Augsburg’s leaky defence has been their main problem this season. They notably conceded five goals against Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt earlier this year. And in their last game, they lost 3-2 to Borussia Monchengladbach. Coach Martin Schmidt will be hoping for an improved performance from his defensive outfit this time around.
And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a look at these two teams ahead of their important clash in the Bundesliga this weekend.
Tactics & Team News
Bayern Munich will continue to miss out on the services of top scorer Robert Lewandowski. Thomas Muller hasn’t exactly looked sharp replacing him in the number nine role, which could potentially force Hansi Flick to opt for youngster Joshua Zirkzee this weekend.
Zirkzee’s presence in the team could allow Muller to operate in his favoured attacking midfield slot, with Serge Gnabry and Philippe Coutinho starting in the wide attacking roles. Both Kingsley Coman and Ivan Perisic are not fully fit so Flick doesn’t have too many options either.
In midfield, the trusted duo of Joshua Kimmich and Thiago Alcantara could continue to operate at the base of Bayern’s 4-2-3-1. Their ball distribution could be critical as the home side look to dominate their Bavarian neighbours in the middle of the park.
Flick will have many options in the defensive department this weekend. Javi Martinez is back while Lucas Hernandez is also in contention to start. We expect the latter to replace David Alaba, who could receive a much-needed breather.
Hernandez will partner Jerome Boateng at the heart of the four-man backline with Benjamin Pavard and Alphonso Davies operating as full-backs. Manuel Neuer is a guaranteed starter in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Boateng, Hernandez, Davies; Kimmich, Alcantara; Gnabry, Muller, Coutinho; Zirkzee
Schmidt is unlikely to make too many alterations to the side that lost 2-3 to Borussia Monchengladbach in the last game. However, Finnbogason is pushing for a place in the starting lineup, having scored a goal against Gladbach. He could replace Florian Niederlechner in the number nine slot.
But, not all goalscorers against Gladbach may have the same fortune. Eduard Lowen might actually have to make way for Daniel Baier, who will operate in the holding midfield role, with Rani Khedira and Carlos Gruezo starting alongside him.
Augsburg could employ a deep defensive block which could force the likes of Baier and Khedira to shift into a deeper role and help out the central defenders in Jeffrey Gouweleeuw and Tin Jedvaj. With no Lewandowski, it could be an excellent opportunity for them to keep a clean sheet.
Stephan Lichsteiner and Philipp Max will look to provide additional support from the wider defensive positions. Iago is also an option at left-back, should Schmidt opt for a more defensive approach.
Probable Lineup (4-5-1): Koubek; Lichtsteiner, Gouweleeuw, Jedvaj, Max; Richter, Gruezo, Baier, Khedira, Vargas; Finnbogason
- Bayern are unbeaten in 10 Bundesliga games, winning nine of those. The league leaders have also scored more goals in 2020 than any other team (25) which has given them a total of 71 goals for the season – only Bayern themselves had more goals at this stage of a season before, back in 2013/14.
- Bayern are also unbeaten in their last 9 meetings with Augsburg. However, in two of the last three fixtures between the sides, Augsburg have earned a point in each.
- Since a 4-2 win at Hoffenheim, Augsburg have lost each of their last four games away from home while scoring only once. They have only lost more often away from home just twice before (both 5 games) – most recently between February and April 2015.
- Thomas Müller has scored eight goals and provided seven assists in his 10 Bundesliga meetings with Augsburg.
- Joshua Zirzkee has taken just three minutes longer than Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland to score his first three Bundesliga goals.
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— Home Bayern (@_HomeBayern) December 21, 2019
Zirkzee made quite an impact with his performance against TSG Hoffenheim in the last Bundesliga match. He scored Bayern’s third goal and was directly or indirectly involved in the club’s four goals in the 6-0 rout over TSG.
The young Dutchman impressed the onlookers with his excellent link-up play and fantastic positioning sense. And with Lewandowski once again ruled out and Muller struggling in the number nine role, this could be an ideal opportunity for Zirzkee to make his mark in the first-team.
Indeed, Augsburg have already struggled defensively this year and yet another impressive attacking display might just help the attacker earn a more prominent role in the Bayern Munich team next season.
Bayern Munich 3-0 FC Augsburg
This could turn out to be yet another stroll in the park for Bayern Munich, who have shown immense quality since the turn of the year. The team has learned to work together and there is this energy that could prove too much for Augsburg to deal with. Hence, we expect the hosts to seal a comfortable 3-0 victory.