Bayern Munich shift their attention back to the Bundesliga when they lock horns with Arminia Bielefeld on Monday.
Bayern Munich concluded their week on a perfect note thanks to a 1-0 win over Tigres UANL that saw them become only the second European team to secure the Sextuple – after former head coach Pep Guardiola led Barcelona back to unprecedented success in 2009.
On Monday, it’s business as usual for the Bavarian giants as they look to resume their Bundesliga campaign against Arminia Bielefeld. They currently do have a four-point lead over RB Leipzig at the top of the league table, but three points in this encounter could extend that gap back to seven.
Although there is still a chunk of the season left to be played, Bayern Munich have been slowly eliminating the chasing pack with their consistent run of form in the Bundesliga. The likes of Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach have already drifted out of the title race while it remains unlikely that Eintracht Frankfurt will manage to mount a late surge despite their current form.
While Bayern have had a congested fixture list that became even more hectic due to the FIFA Club World Cup, their opponents Arminia Bielefeld, thanks to their postponed game against Werder Bremen last weekend, have had a solid 15-day break heading into this game – almost unthinkable even in a normal campaign.
It has given Uwe Neuhaus’ men time to prepare themselves for a tough challenge ahead as they drift further into the relegation scrap. Although the Bundesliga newcomers do have a three-point leader over relegation-threatened Mainz, they will be well aware of their opponent’s recent surge in the league table, following the appointment of Bo Svensson.
It leaves them with very little room for complacency, especially with Hertha Berlin also showing positive signs in recent weeks. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look at these two sides ahead of this important Bundesliga encounter on Monday.
Team News & Tactics
Bayern players out of tomorrow's game:
• Thomas Müller (quarantine)
• Leon Goretzka (calf)
• Tanguy Nianzou (rehab)
• Alexander Nübel (ankle)
• Jérôme Boateng (private reasons)
• Javi Martínez (lack of training)
• Serge Gnabry (thigh muscle tear)#FCBDSC
— Sextuple winners 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 (@iMiaSanMia) February 14, 2021
The return of Corentin Tolisso in the Bayern Munich camp has been somewhat shadowed by the Covid-19 diagnosis of Thomas Muller that rules the attacker out for the time being.
Hansi Flick does have viable alternatives, with Tolisso apparently the favourite to operate in the number ten role, ahead of Jamal Musiala. Bayern have a few other players out injured including Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnabry and Tanguy Nianzou while Javi Martinez lacks training, thereby being ruled out of Monday’s fixture.
The absence of Gnabry should guarantee a spot for Leroy Sane in the starting eleven, with the German international hoping to showcase his talents against newly-promoted Bielefeld. He and Kingsley Coman should operate out wide, looking to provide the supply for Robert Lewandowski, who looks to continue his pursuit of Gerd Muller’s record of scoring 40 goals in a single league campaign.
The Pole currently has 24 goals to his name, but after failing to find the back of the net in the last league match against Hertha, he will be requiring better support from the creative trifecta. It will be interesting to see how the introduction of Tolisso, who is much more passing-oriented when compared to the movement-oriented nature of Muller, makes a difference in Bayern’s approach play on Monday.
In midfield, Joshua Kimmich remains a guaranteed starter and could be partnered by David Alaba, in the absence of Goretzka and Martinez. Alternatively, Flick could opt for a 4-1-4-1, with Musiala and Tolisso operating in the advanced midfield slot. Marc Roca is also an option, but Flick has had trust issues with the Spanish newcomer.
Bayern Munich will continue to miss out on the services of Jerome Boateng due to personal reasons, in the defensive unit. Devoid of options, Flick could persist with the defensive partnership of Lucas Hernandez and Niklas Sule. Elsewhere, Benjamin Pavard and Alphonso Davies should operate as the full-backs looking to supplement the depleted midfield and creative unit while Manuel Neuer retains his place in between the sticks.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Sule, Hernandez, Davies; Kimmich, Alaba; Sane, Tolisso, Coman; Lewandowski
Unlike Bayern, Arminia Bielefeld have no injury concerns whatsoever and are heading into this game with their full squad. Whether that would inspire Neuhaus to adopt a more courageous approach remains to be seen, but after conceding eight goals in the last two matches, the general instinct will be to avoid a humiliation especially at a time where goal difference could become critical.
Fabian Klos will continue to spearhead the attack for Arminia, with additional creative support from Ritsu Doan and Marcel Hartel. Doan, in particular, remains the creator-in-chief for the away side, having been involved in six goals so far this campaign. His sharpshooting ability makes him a lethal weapon for Arminia going forward.
— DSC Arminia Bielefeld (@arminia) February 11, 2021
Neuhaus also has a bunch of alternatives to Klos in the number nine role. In fact, he might call on the services of Sergio Cordova, who has been in great form recently while Sven Schipplock offers a more traditional approach.
Hartel, meanwhile, is likely to operate in a more conservative role. The German may even occasionally drop in to support the central midfielders in Manuel Prietl and Fabian Kunze.
And finally, Arminia are likely to persist with the same defensive unit that started the last game against Koln, with Amos Pieper and Joakim Nilsson operating at centre-back, partnered by the two full-backs in Cedric Brunner and Jacob Barrett Laursen.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ortega; Brunner, Pieper, Nilsson, Laursen; Kunze, Prietl; Doan, Hartel, Cordova; Klos
- Manuel Neuer has kept a clean sheet in 200 of his career 425 Bundesliga games. He is now just four matches away from equalling Oliver Kahn’s all-time record.
- Kingsley Coman is enjoying his most productive Bundesliga season ever, with three goals and nine assists already.
- Arminia Bielefeld’s Matchday 20 game against Bremen was cancelled due to heavy snowfall, Neuhaus’ side have had a full 15 days of rest since their Matchday 19 defeat to Koln – longer than the 13 days they had over the winter break.
- Goalkeeper Stefan Ortega has had more touches of the ball (1,116) than any other Arminia Bielefeld player this season.
- Sergio Cordova has scored both of Bielefeld’s most recent goals, coming in defeats to Koln and Eintracht Frankfurt. They were his first goals this season.
Player to Watch
Robert Lewandowski is the one worth keeping an eye on for multiple reasons. While it is obvious that the Pole will attract the spotlight due to his incredible scoring run in the Bundesliga this season, it will be interesting to see how he fares without Muller or Gnabry in the final third.
The absence of these two individuals means there could be a lack of those intelligent movements that used to allow the additional freedom for the Bayern Munich forward in the final third. It could essentially force Lewandowski to become more expressive in regards to his overall movement in this game.
At the same time, the former Dortmund superstar will be closely watched by the two Arminia defenders – making things quite difficult for him as he looks to return to his scoring form after failing to score in the narrow win over Hertha.
Bayern Munich 2-0 Arminia Bielefeld
Bayern Munich are the undisputed favourites heading into this game, having been on an excellent run of form recently. They do have certain injuries that could minimise their effectiveness, especially in the offensive department, but have more than decent alternatives, who can not only fill in but also add another dimension to their game.
Arminia, in contrast, have drifted away slightly after making a decent recovery during the midway point of the campaign. They have also appeared quite leaky in defence, which is a cause for concern especially against a frontline that is led by Lewandowski. Hence, we are expecting a comfortable 2-0 victory for the Bavarians.