Bayern Munich will be aiming to extend their lead atop the Bundesliga standings when they lock horns with 1. FC Koln at the Allianz Stadium this weekend.

Matchday 23 of the 2020/21 Bundesliga kicks off this week and reigning champions Bayern Munich will be in action on Saturday afternoon when they welcome 1. FC Koln to the Allianz Stadium.

Bayern Munich have seen their lead at the top of the table being cut down after their 3-3 draw against Arminia Bielefeld which was followed by a 2-1 defeat to high-fliers Eintracht Frankfurt. This has allowed RB Leipzig to move to within two points of the leaders and Hansi Flick & co. will be aiming to bounce back to winning ways in the league, having built momentum with a 4-1 victory over Lazio in the Champions League.

Koln, meanwhile, are also without a win in their last two league outings, having lost back-to-back games against Eintracht Frankfurt and VfB Stuttgart leaving them just three points clear of the bottom three in 14th place. And Markus Gisdol will be aiming to get things back on track with a positive result in Bavaria this weekend, although it will hardly be an easy task going up against the champions.

The reverse fixture played in October last year saw Bayern Munich pick up a 2-1 win over Koln, with Thomas Muller and Serge Gnabry finding the back of the net. And ahead of their latest meeting on Saturday afternoon, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Bayern Munich

Heading into the game, Bayern Munich manager Hansi Flick has a host of injury problems with the likes Corentin Tolisso, Douglas Costa, Tanguy Nianzou, Alexander Nubel and Benjamin Pavard all set to miss out. Thomas Muller and Serge Gnabry are back in training but Saturday’s game might come too soon for the duo.

Given the number of injuries, Flick could be forced into naming a largely similar side that took the field against Lazio in midweek, with Manuel Neuer starting between the sticks where he will be shielded by the centre-back partnership of Jerome Boateng and David Alaba. Niklas Sule and Alphonso Davies ought to be the two full-backs on the right and left sides, respectively.

Joshua Kimmich, who has been crucial for Bayern Munich since returning from injury, ought to start in the midfield double pivot alongside Leon Goretzka. The former will be pivotal with his composure on the ball and the ability to play incisive forward passes, while the latter provides robust box-to-box presence.

Teenage prodigy Jamal Musiala should once again get the nod in the No. 10 role in the absence of Thomas Muller while the attacking impetus from out wide should come from Leroy Sane and Kingsley Coman, who will pose a major threat with their pace and direct running. There is no looking past Robert Lewandowski in the centre-forward slot.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Sule, Boateng, Alaba, Davies; Kimmich, Goretzka; Sane, Musiala, Coman; Lewandowski

1. FC Koln

Markus Gisdol, meanwhile, will have to make do without Sebastiaan Bornauw and Sebastian Andersson while Florian Kainz also misses out. In addition, Koln are also likely to be without Jonas Hector for the trip to Allianz Arena this weekend.

Koln will set up in a 3-4-2-1 formation in front of goalkeeper Timo Horn. The three-man defensive line of Rafael Czichos, Jorge Mere and Sava-Arangel Cestic, who will have their task cut out against the dangerous Bayern attacking unit.

Kingsley Ehizibue and Ismail Jakobs ought to be the two wing-backs, although it wouldn’t be a surprise to seem them play close to the centre-backs, essentially forming a five-man backline.

Ellyes Skhiri will anchor the midfield for the visitors and look to keep a lid on the output of Jamal Musiala. Support will come from Elvis Rexhbecaj, who will also have the onus to push forward when the visitors do attack.

Ondrej Duda and Marius Wolf ought to be the two attacking midfielders who will play off of Emmanuel Dennis in the centre-forward role. It will be up to the trio make the most of Bayern’s high defensive line on Saturday.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Horn; Czichos, Mere, Cestic; Ehizibue, Rexhbecaj, Skhiri, Jakobs; Wolf, Duda; Dennis

Key Stats

  • Bayern Munich are undefeated in their last twenty home matches in the Bundesliga.
  • FC Koln have failed to score in eight of their last eleven matches in the German top-flight.
  • Bayern have conceded 31 goals after 22 matches in the Bundesliga this term – their worst defensive record at this stage of a campaign in 29 years.
  • FC Koln has taken 15 of their 21 points in the Bundesliga this season away from home. However, they haven’t won in Munich since February 2009.
  • Bayern Munich have scored at least two goals in their last six home matches in Bundesliga.

Player to Watch

Robert Lewandowski

Who else but Bayern Munich’s ace goalscorer who is enjoying a record-breaking campaign thus far. Indeed, Robert Lewandowski’s tally of 26 goals after 22 matchdays is a Bundesliga record, but the Polish centre-forward has his eyes set on other milestones – one of those being breaking Gerd Muller’s long-standing record of 40 goals in a league season.

Needing 14 goals from the remaining 12 games in the season, there is a very good chance that Lewandowski will be able to scale that mountain given his form. After having scored in each of his last three games in all competitions, the 32-year-old will want to carry his form forward on Saturday and take another step closer to Der Bomber’s 49-year-old record.

Prediction

Bayern Munich 3-1 1. FC Koln

Even though Koln have lost their last two games, over the course of the campaign they have managed to take points off of some big teams including the likes of Borussia Dortmund and more recently Borussia Monchengladbach. And with Bayern Munich looking vulnerable at the back in recent matches, Markus Gisdol’s side will back themselves to find the back of the net on Saturday.

However, it does not bode well for them that Robert Lewandowski continues to score goals on a consistent basis for the record champions. The 4-1 win over Lazio will have come as a major boost for Hansi Flick’s men, who should be able to cruise to a victory against the Billygoats this weekend to strengthen their hold at the top of the Bundesliga standings.

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