After being crowned champions last week against Werder Bremen, Bayern Munich are set to host SC Freiburg at the Allianz Arena.

The inevitable finally happened last week as Bayern Munich took on Werder Bremen in a less than thrilling encounter at the Weserstadion. The Bavarians were crowned champions of the Bundesliga for the eighth time in a row with two matches to spare. This was far from possible without Hansi Flick, who has taken them on a 23-game unbeaten run in all competitions after losing to Borussia Monchengladbach in the first week of December.

The manager has not only been able to take the team on an unbelievable streak, but he has also managed to make several career turnarounds for players like Thomas Muller, Leon Goretzka and David Alaba among others. Muller’s 16 assists since his appointment and 20 overall this season is proof of the same.

Meanwhile, things are far from over for SC Freiburg, who are looking to end the season in a European spot, currently sitting in 8th place right now after a roller-coaster of a season. They are a point adrift of VfL Wolfsburg and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in 6th and 7th, respectively.

Screenshot 2020-06-19 at 12.52.30 PM

What a ride! (Courtesy: Transfermarkt)

Freiburg played hosts to Hertha Berlin earlier this week, registering a 2-1 win courtesy of a winner from super-sub Nils Petersen. Vincenzo Grifo was also on target for the Breisgau-Brasilianer, taking his tally to four for the season.

The reverse fixture did not go as planned for Freiburg as Bayern registered a 3-1 win after being held at 1-1 for nearly half an hour. Freiburg’s tremendous defensive work was undone thanks to two stoppage-time goals from Joshua Zirkzee and Serge Gnabry. The Hard Tackle now takes a closer look at this fixture ahead of the two clubs’ latest meeting.

Team News & Tactics

Bayern Munich

His first red in the Bavarian shirt. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Alphonso Davies misses out after being sent off for the first time at Bayern Munich. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

There are no fresh injury concerns for Hansi Flick, but he will be without the services of Alphonso Davies after the Canadian picked up a red card during their last outing against Werder Bremen. Davies got his big break under Flick and has quickly become one of the best full-backs this season under the current manager.

The Bavarians will also still be without Corentin Tolisso (ankle), Philippe Coutinho (ankle), Javi Martinez (stomach bug) and Niklas Sule (lack of match fitness).

Thiago Alcantara made his return to the team against Bayer Leverkusen on Matchday 30, but sustained an injury to his groin once again during the build-up of the game against Borussia Monchengladbach last week and will have to watch from the sidelines on Saturday as well.

Joshua Zirkzee might get the chance to lead the line now that Bayern have been crowned champions, with Mickael Cuisance starting in attacking midfield and playing off of the young striker. They will be aided by Kingsley Coman on the right and Ivan Perisic on the left in a 4-2-3-1.

Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka are expected to retain their partnership in the midfield double pivot, primarily because Flick does not have any other fit central midfielders in his squad right now.

David Alaba will keep his spot at the heart of the Bayern defence, but it should be noted that his usual partner Jerome Boateng might be replaced by Benjamin Pavard. Alvaro Odriozola and Lucas Hernandez will provide the width from the back. That said, Flick may shift Alaba back to his preferred left-back spot as Hernandez is more than capable of playing in the centre.

The defence will be screening club captain Manuel Neuer, who will hold the fort in the six-yard goal.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Odriozola, Pavard, Alaba, Hernandez; Kimmich, Goretzka; Coman, Cuisance, Perisic; Zirkzee 

SC Freiburg

Compared to Bayern Munich, Christian Streich has considerably fewer fitness concerns. SC Freiburg will be missing first-choice centre-back Manuel Gulde, who picked up an injury in training. Gulde’s partner in defence, Robin Koch, too, is a doubt for this fixture due to a back injury, while Lukas Kubler is expected to watch from the sidelines as he recovers from a knee injury.

Streich will have to do some desperate reshuffling in front of star goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow. Jonathan Schmid and Christian Gunter will provide the width from the defence, playing on either side of Philipp Leinhart and Nico Schlotterbeck.

Freiburg’s four-man midfield will feature Nicolas Hofler and Janik Haberer in a double pivot, flanked by Kwon Chang-hoon on the right and Vincenzo Grifo on the left.

Top scorer Nils Petersen could get the nod ahead of Luca Waldschmidt, who has been rather underwhelming this season, with his last goal coming against Hoffenheim more than 4 months ago. Lucas Holer will retain his position as the twin striker in the 4-4-2.

Predicted Lineup (4-4-2): Shwolow; Schmid, Leinhart, Schlotterbeck, Gunter; Kwon, Hofler, Heberer, Grifo; Petersen, Holer

Key Stats

  • Bayern Munich have only lost one of their last 33 Bundesliga meetings with SC Freiburg – on Matchday 33 of the 2014/15 season, when they had already been crowned champions.
  • The record champions are unbeaten in their last 16 Bundesliga matches.
  • Robert Lewandowski has scored 15 goals in as many games against Freiburg, including five braces.
  • Freiburg have not won away to Bayern Munich in 19 attempts. They have also conceded more goals against Bayern than against any other Bundesliga club (52).
  • Christian Streich has won just one of the 14 games he has managed against Bayern Munich, losing 9 fixtures (D4).

Player to Watch

Joshua Zirkzee

Joshua Zirkzee came through the Bayern Munich academy last year in the absence of Robert Lewandowski, and has already made a name for himself in the Bundesliga. The 19-year-old came on for Philippe Coutinho in the 90th minute for his Bundesliga debut and eventually scored the equaliser a minute later against none other than SC Freiburg in mid-December.

The Dutchman is expected to start over Lewandowski, who is chasing Gerd Muller’s 40-goal record for a single Bundesliga campaign. The Pole is nine goals adrift of the record and might have to make peace with his current 31-goal tally.

Zirkzee last featured for Bayern last week against Borussia Monchengladbach, scoring the opener after capitalising on Yann Sommer’s misplaced pass. This goal took his tally to four for the season in eight appearances, out of which he has recorded just three starts. One for the future.

Prediction

Bayern Munich 3-1 SC Freiburg

Even though SC Freiburg will be way more motivated than Bayern Munich as they tackle the record champions, the hosts’ form over their visitors in the Bundesliga under Hansi Flick is too good to ignore. On top of that, Joshua Zirkzee will be motivated to impress the coach in just his fourth start of the season.

The pressure might be off for the newly crowned champs, but with the star-studded squad they boast, the result might turn out to be a mere formality and a mirror image of the reverse fixture.

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