Bayern Munich are aiming to continue their fantastic run of form when they travel to RheinEnergieStadion to face 1.FC Koln on Saturday.

Bayern Munich are looking to extend their winning run to eight games in all competitions when they face 1.FC Koln on Saturday. The Bavarians are coming on the back of a tight 2-1 win over Lokomotiv Moscow in the midweek Champions League fixture, in what was their worst performance over the past four weeks.

Hansi Flick will be hoping that his side can avoid a similar display as the record German champions look to put pressure on league leaders RB Leipzig, who face a tricky test against Borussia Monchengladbach. On the other hand, securing all three points will be imperative, with Borussia Dortmund breathing down their necks by also securing 12 points in the opening five matches.

Fortunately for Bayern Munich, their weekend opponents 1.FC Koln, have been one of the worst-performing teams in the Bundesliga so far this campaign. The cathedral club are one of four teams yet to secure a single win in the league and are coming on the back of a 1-1 draw with VfB Stuttgart last weekend, in what was the battle of the traditional heavyweights.

Markus Gisdol has already become the first Koln head coach to record a 15-game winless streak in the club’s history. And the ex-HSV boss will be aware of the fact that his side has very little chance of putting an end to that tally this weekend, up against the most in-form teams in European football.

Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of this enticing match-up in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

Team News & Tactics

1.FC Koln

epa04997245 FILE - A file picture dated 12 December 2014 shows Hoffenheim coach Markus Gisdol during the German Bundesliga football match between TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Eintracht Frankfurt at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena in Sinsheim, Germany. Hoffenheim dismissed Gisdol on 26 October 2015. EPA/UWE ANSPACH

Can Gisdol put an end to his side’s dismal record? (Photo via EPA/UWE ANSPACH)

Koln conceded an early goal against Stuttgart, with coach Markus Gisdol describing it as “colossally annoying”, claiming it had a huge effect in their overall performance. So this weekend, the hosts’ main objective will be to avoid conceding an early goal and hand the game over to Bayern Munich.

Timo Horn’s performance against Stuttgart was positive for the Billygoats in the last game. But, the back four consisting of Kingsley Ehizibue, Sebastiaan Bornauw, Rafael Czichos and Jannes Horn could be important in providing cover for their goalkeeper. They will be looking to frustrate Bayern by employing a deep defensive line, much like what Lokomotiv did in midweek.

In midfield, club captain Jonas Hector remains a doubt heading into this game. But, Marco Hoger is back and should get the nod ahead of Elvis Rexbecaj. The experienced midfielder is expected to partner Ellyes Shkiri at the base of Koln’s 4-3-3, with Ondrej Duda operating in the slightly advanced role, where he will be in charge of providing the creativity going forward.

In attack, Gisdol might persist with Marius Wolf at right-wing. The on-loan Dortmund attacker, along with Ismail Jakobs on the opposite flank, will be looking to cause havoc on the far side with their direct runs. Their primary objective will be to provide direct crosses to the towering striker Sebastian Andersson.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Horn; Ehizibue, Bornauw, Czichos, Horn; Shkiri, Hoger, Duda; Wolf, Andersson, Jakobs

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Bayern Munich

Hansi Flick fielded a relatively strong lineup against Lokomotiv Moscow in the midweek fixture and fans could expect a stronger team this weekend, following the return of Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane.

Both the players started on the bench in midweek, but Gnabry, at the very least, is expected to make his way into the starting lineup, most likely at the expense of Corentin Tolisso. It essentially means that Thomas Muller is set to return to his preferred number ten role, with Gnabry and Kingsley Coman operating as wide attackers.

As for Sane, Flick may not rush him back into the starting lineup as the ex-Manchester City ace has just recovered from a short injury layoff. Sane and Douglas Costa could appear as second-half substitutes. They will all look to provide the creative support to Robert Lewandowski in the number nine role.

We are not expecting any changes in midfield so Leon Goretzka, after being subbed off at half-time in against Lokomotiv Moscow, should retain his place in the double pivot, alongside Joshua Kimmich.

Flick, however, might be tempted to make one little change in defence, with Jerome Boateng coming in for Niklas Sule. He will feature alongside David Alaba at the heart of the four-man backline, with Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez occupying the two full-back positions.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Boateng, Alaba, Hernandez; Kimmich, Goretzka; Gnabry, Muller, Coman; Lewandowski

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Key Stats

  • Robert Lewandowski has scored 12 goals in 14 Bundesliga games against Koln, winning 13 times and drawing once.
  • Bayern Munich have won 13 of their last 15 league visits to Koln (one draw, one defeat), including each of the last six.
  • 1.FC Koln’s last win over Bayern Munich was on 5 February 2011, when they fought back from 2-0 down to win 3-2.
  • Timo Horn, Marco Hoger and Anthony Modeste have never been on the winning side against Bayern Munich, despite nine attempts.
  • Koln are without a win in 15 Bundesliga games; only Schalke are on a longer wait for all three points in the competition (21). The Billy Goats have taken just six points from these 15 matches, which is half as many as Bayern Munich have from five games in 2020/21.

Player to Watch

Serge Gnabry

Gnabry has arrived. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Gnabry loves playing against Koln. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Bayern Munich will be greatly boosted by the return of Serge Gnabry after the winger was quarantined due to COVID-19, only to be later assessed that it was, in fact, a false positive. As a result, the winger is back into the setup and even appeared as a substitute against Lokomotiv Moscow in midweek.

This weekend, the German international will be looking to resume his business and Koln could be an ideal opponent. Gnabry already has a remarkable record against the Billy Goats, netting six goals in five outings. His presence on the right flank, therefore, could be key for Bayern Munich, especially with the inexperienced Jannes Horn featuring as the left-back.

Prediction

Bayern Munich 2-0 1.FC Koln

Koln did create more clear cut opportunities in the last game against Stuttgart. Unfortunately, they might find it difficult to replicate that performance against the much more competent defenders of Bayern Munich, who, meanwhile, have been strengthened by the return of Sane and Gnabry. So we are expecting a 2-0 win for the Bavarians this weekend.

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