Bayern Munich will aim to inch closer to their ninth successive Bundesliga title when they take on Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.
It has been a turbulent week for Bayern Munich, whose 3-2 win over Wolfsburg might have helped them extend their lead at the top to seven points, but it was followed by news of Hansi Flick’s departure at the end of the season.
The announcement came shortly before 12 clubs in European football dropped a bombshell this week by confirming their proposal of breaking away from the UEFA Champions League to form the European Super League.
The list did not include any German or French teams and even though Bayern were heavily linked to join the “founding members”, Borussia Dortmund’s official statement seemed to suggest that both the Bundesliga giants not willing to participate in the proposed competition and stand in favour of a potential reform of the UEFA Champions League.
On Tuesday, though, the Bavarians will look to shift their attention back to football as they take on Bayer Leverkusen. A win could help them maintain their seven-point lead that could even potentially increase to ten, should Leipzig lose their game against 1.FC Koln on the same day.
As for Leverkusen, they are hoping to make a late push for the top four places, having kick-started Hannes Wolf’s temporary spell in charge on a positive note, with two wins in three matches. Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their vital encounter at the Allianz Arena this midweek.
Team News & Tactics
📸 Robert Lewandowski increases the intensity of his training today as he closes in on his comeback pic.twitter.com/zoBpZodZ9U
— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) April 19, 2021
Bayern Munich superstar Robert Lewandowski is making a quick recovery, although this midweek encounter against Bayer Leverkusen could come a little too soon for the forward. As such, we are once again expecting Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to spearhead the Bayern attack, with Thomas Muller operating in his preferred Ramdeuter role.
The Bavarians, unfortunately, are still missing most of their key players, with Leroy Sane becoming the latest player to suffer a bruised shoulder that could keep him out of this game, thus joining Serge Gnabry and Douglas Costa on the sidelines.
It could, however, pave the way for Jamal Musiala to retain his place in the starting eleven while Kingsley Coman should replace Sane, in the wider attacking positions. The Frenchman’s crossing prowess could be useful as he looks to find Choupo-Moting inside the box.
David Alaba could be set for another start in midfield, alongside Joshua Kimmich, in light of Leon Goretzka and Corentin Tolisso’s absence through injury. The duo is likely to enjoy a lot of possession, so the onus will be on them to make use of it and offer better transition.
Defensively, Bayern Munich are likely to remain unchanged as Hansi Flick continues to deal with the absence of Niklas Sule and Goretzka’s whose injury has forced the German to deploy Alaba in midfield.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Boateng, Hernandez, Davies; Kimmich, Alaba; Musiala, Muller, Coman; Choupo-Moting
It will be interesting to see how Bayer Leverkusen approach this game. Hannes Wolf’s men have so far exhibited an intense style of play, but his team simply cannot take too many risks up against the pacy attacking duo of Kingsley Coman and Jamal Musiala.
That said, Leverkusen are likely to revert to a back three consisting of Jonathan Tah, Sven Bender and Edmond Tapsoba. Tah made the defensive error in the reverse fixture that changed the course of this Bundesliga campaign and the German simply cannot afford to replicate a similar performance this time around.
— Bayer 04 Leverkusen (@bayer04_en) April 19, 2021
Nevertheless, a back three could offer Leverkusen better security in possession, allowing the likes of Exequiel Palacios, Charles Aranguiz and Nadiem Amiri to find more passing options, especially as both the wingbacks in Jeremie Frimpong and Daley Sinkgraven are likely to be given the freedom to move forward.
Amiri could be a vital cog in Leverkusen’s creative game, though, especially with Florian Wirtz being a doubt heading into this game. The onus, therefore, will be on the attacking trio of him, Leon Bailey and Lucas Alario to test the Bayern backline on the counter.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Hradecky; Tah, Bender, Tapsoba; Frimpong, Palacios, Aranguiz, Sinkgraven; Amiri, Bailey; Alario
- Robert Lewandowski has notched more Bundesliga goals this season (35) than Bayern’s next five top scorers combined: Thomas Müller (10), Serge Gnabry (9), Jamal Musiala (6), Leon Goretzka (5) and Leroy Sane (4).
- Lewandowski has netted 10 times in 21 career meetings with Bayer Leverkusen, including a brace in this season’s reverse fixture (2-1).
- Bayern Munich have by far and away the best attack in the Bundesliga this season (83 goals scored), although they only boast the fifth-best defence (38 conceded). Bayer Leverkusen have the third-best defensive record.
- Leon Bailey scored twice as Bayer Leverkusen claimed a 2-1 victory on their last visit to the Allianz Arena, on 30 November 2019.
- Lucas Alario is Leverkusen’s top scorer in the Bundesliga this season with 10 goals, and the Argentine has netted twice in his last three league meetings with Bayern.
Player to Watch
Jamal Musiala in tight spaces. 🥰
Musiala in the Bundesliga:
What a talent! pic.twitter.com/sjfEKYD5s1
— Football Talent Scout – Jacek Kulig (@FTalentScout) April 17, 2021
Jamal Musiala is the man of the moment for Bayern Munich right now, having starred in the club’s last two matches. The youngster was sublime especially in the game against Wolfsburg, showing excellent footwork, skill and confidence on the ball that helped the Bavarians see out the rather difficult challenge.
This time around, Musiala will be up against a high pressing Bayer Leverkusen side who are very good when it comes to applying pressure on ball carriers. His physicality and decision-making, therefore, will be tested and with major players still missing, there is no doubt that Musiala could indeed end up as one of Bayern’s key players this midweek.
Bayern Munich 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Bayer Leverkusen have shown some spine after the arrival of Wolf and are likely to trouble Bayern, especially during the early stages of the game before adopting a more conservative approach later on. We expect the Bavarians to concede at least one goal, but with Jamal Musiala, Thomas Muller and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting in relatively good form, they are likely to prevail in this encounter.