Bayern Munich brace themselves for yet another tough challenge ahead as they face FC Augsburg in the Bavarian derby on Wednesday.
Bayern Munich’s win over SC Freiburg on the weekend was a vital one in the course of Bundesliga’s title race this season, especially with Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig all dropping points in the corresponding matchday. As a result, they have now extended their lead to four points at the top of the league table
This midweek, the Bavarians will have the opportunity to further increase their advantage, especially with fellow league giants Borussia Dortmund facing a tricky test against Bayer Leverkusen. But, head coach Hansi Flick will be well aware of his side’s shortcomings in recent weeks, and the focus will remain on outperforming Augsburg as they hope to create a winning sequence.
Augsburg, on the other hand, are coming on the back of successive defeats to VfB Stuttgart and Werder Bremen. The two losses mean that they are still stuck on the wrong end of the league table, Although Die Fuggerstadter are seven points clear of safety, failing to salvage at least a point in this fixture could potentially see them getting overtaken by the likes of Hertha Berlin, Bremen and TSG Hoffenheim.
Given Bayern’s recent form, it won’t be surprising to see Heiko Herrlich’s men gunning for a victory. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this crucial encounter in the Bundesliga this midweek.
Tactics & Team News
— FC Augsburg (@FCAugsburg) January 18, 2021
Augsburg barely managed to create any chances against Bremen in their last game, so Herrlich could be tempted to make a few changes in his starting eleven. The former Leverkusen head coach could recall Florian Niederlechner, in particular, at the expense of Alfred Finnbogason in the number nine position.
Niederlechner’s dynamic presence in the final third could be useful against the high defensive line of Bayern. Similarly, Herrlich could also Daniel Caligiuri in the starting eleven, as the ex-Wolfsburg star is a much better outlet than Andre Hahn on the counter. He could partner Michael Gregoritsch and Ruben Vargas in Augsburg’s creative trifecta as they look to provide the supply for Niederlechner.
A more practical change for Augsburg should see the return of a four-man backline in order to mirror Bayern Munich’s preferred 4-2-3-1. First choice right-back Raphael Framberger is missing, so there could be a rare start for new signing Robert Gumny while Mads Pederson will continue to deputise for the injured Iago on the opposite flank.
The shift to a four-man backline could also see Reece James getting sacrificed from the starting eleven. It should pave the way for Jeffrey Gouweleeuw and Felix Uduokhai to form the central defensive partnership. They have the provide the solidity necessary in order to cover goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz.
Perhaps the most important cog in Augsburg’s setup, however, are the two central midfielders in Carlos Greuzo and Tobias Strobl. These two are highly known for their ability to press the opposition, so it will be interesting to see how they deal with the technically astute nature of the Bayern Munich stars in the middle of the park this midweek.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Gikiewicz; Gumny, Gouweleeuw, Uduokhai, Pedersen; Strobl, Gruezo; Caligiuri, Gregoritsch, Vargas; Niederlechner
Hansi Flick was dealt with a massive blow on the weekend when Serge Gnabry picked up a hamstring injury and had to be substituted around the half-hour mark. Leroy Sane made an impression after replacing him, meaning he remains the favourite to start alongside Thomas Muller and Kingsley Coman in Bayern’s creative trifecta.
Sane’s pace and trickery could be useful for the Bavarians, especially considering the fact that Augsburg are having to make do without their two premier fullbacks. The same cannot be said for Robert Lewandowski, who is bracing himself for some rough treatment by the likes of Gouweleeuw and Uduokhai.
Flick is unlikely to ring in any changes in midfield despite the congested fixture list going forward. The German tactician did take Joshua Kimmich off in the 75th minute of the last game, giving him a slight breather. The midfielder could play a key role alongside Leon Goretzka in the middle of the park, as Bayern look to navigate through FCA’s second line of press.
Kimmich’s deliveries from set-pieces could also be influential, especially with Jerome Boateng emerging as a target. The veteran may have a bigger role to play in defence, however, as he and David Alaba looks to avoid conceding an early goal once again. It will be interesting to see how these two deal with the pacy Augsburg attack consisting of players like Niederlechner, Vargas and Caligiuri.
There might not be any changes in defence either, even though the likes of Niklas Sule and Lucas Hernandez were naturally expected to start this game.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Boateng, Alaba, Davies; Kimmich, Goretzka; Sane, Muller, Coman; Lewandowski
- FC Augsburg have not won any of their last 10 league games against Bayern Munich, but have claimed a point in two of their four most recent encounters with the record Bundesliga champions.
- This top-flight fixture has never ended goalless.
- Robert Lewandowski has 21 goals after 16 matchdays, which is a new league record for a Hinrunde and four more than the entire FC Augsburg squad have managed.
- Bayern Munich haven’t lost to Augsburg since Raul Bobadilla scored the only goal of the game on 9 May 2015. It’s one of only two defeats to Augsburg, both of which came after Bayern had already been crowned league champions.
- Bayern Munich are on an 11-game unbeaten run against Augsburg (10x Bundesliga, 1x DFB Cup).
Player to Watch
Thomas Muller was by far Bayern Munich’s best performer in the last game against Freiburg. And the German could make a similar impact this week, especially if Heiko Herrlich does switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation that should allow FC Bayern to create a potential numerical superiority in the final third.
Muller, in that regard, could be an ideal player to take full advantage of the situation, thanks to his ability sniff goalscoring chances and a brilliant positioning sense. It was evident in his performance against Freiburg as he was involved in both the goals, including a delightful assist for Lewandowski’s opener.
FC Augsburg 1-3 Bayern Munich
It is hard to imagine FC Augsburg salvaging anything from this game due to multiple reasons. The Bavarian outfit is coming on the back of two back to back defeats and has lacked the inventiveness going forward, notably mustering an xG tally of 0.5 in their last game against Werder Bremen.
Bayern Munich, on the other hand, produced an improved display in their last game that saw the likes of Muller, Davies and Sane return to full form. Hence, we predict a fairly comfortable 3-1 victory for the Bundesliga giants in this one.