A ninth successive Bundesliga title is on the horizon for Bayern Munich when they lock horns with 1.FSV Mainz 05 this weekend.
Bayern Munich could confirm their coronation as the champions of Germany for a ninth season in a row when they face off against Mainz at the Opel Arena on Saturday afternoon.
With just four games left to be played in the 2020/21 Bundesliga season, Bayern Munich have established a ten-point lead at the top over second-placed RB Leipzig, despite a few signs of wobble. Hansi Flick & co. defeated Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 in their most recent fixture and a win this weekend would ensure that the Meisterschale stays at the Allianz Arena for another season.
Mainz, on the other hand, have showed signs of tremendous improvement under Bo Svensson, collecting 25 points from 15 games under the Dane and have gone six games without a loss, most recently beating Werder Bremen 1-0. But the Carnival club are just two points clear of Koln, who occupy the relegation playoff position and will need to keep their current going in order to confirm their safety in the top-flight.
The reverse fixture, played in January earlier this year saw Bayern Munich pull off a sensational second-half comeback after going two goals down to beat Mainz 5-2 with goals coming from Joshua Kimmich, Leroy Sane, Niklas Sule and Robert Lewandowski (2). Ahead of their latest meeting this weekend at the Opel Arena, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
— Sky Sport (@SkySportDE) April 22, 2021
Danny da Costa is likely to miss out again for the home team due to personal reasons while Luca Kilian remains the only other absentee, due to injury. Bo Svensson is likely to set his team up in a 3-4-1-2 setup in front of goalkeeper Robin Zentner.
The three-man backline should comprise of Jeremiah St. Juste, Stefan Bell and Moussa Niakhate who were quite impressive in the last game against Werder Bremen.
With da Costa unavailable, Daniel Brosinski should continue as the right-sided wing-back for the home team while Philipp Mwene slots in out on the left-hand side. The duo will be in charge of providing the width upfield for Mainz given as they lack natural wingers in the current setup.
Leandro Barreiro will have a key role to play in the middle of the park as he will need to provide additional protection to the backline, with on-loan midfielder Dominic Kohr partnering him. Jean-Paul Boetius will have to carry the creative mantle starting as the lone attacking midfielder and will act as the chief supply line for the two strikers in Jonathan Burkardt and Adam Szalai, who scored his first league goal in over a year in the last game.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Zentner; St. Juste, Bell, Niakhate; Brosinski, Barreiro, Kohr, Mwene; Boetius; Burkardt, Szalai
There is some very good news for Bayern Munich heading into the game as Robert Lewandowski is back in full training after missing a chunk of game due to injury. Leon Goretzka is also back in the reckoning for the record champions while Serge Gnabry and Marc Roca are also closing in on a return. Corentin Tolisso, Niklas Sule and Douglas Costa remain sidelined.
🗣️ #Flick on the personnel: "@lewy_official and @leongoretzka_ will both make the squad. We'll have to see how @marcroca21 and @SergeGnabry are in training today. The squad is filling up, which is good."#MiaSanMia #M05FCB pic.twitter.com/UFL1VjL8hM
— 🏆🏆🏆FC Bayern English🏆🏆🏆 (@FCBayernEN) April 23, 2021
Hansi Flick is expected to make a few tweaks to the side that beat Bayer Leverkusen last time out. No alterations are expected in goal, however, with captain Manuel Neuer the undisputed starter. In front of him, Jerome Boateng should start at centre-back but is in line for a change of partners as David Alaba moves back into defence after starting in midfield last time out.
Benjamin Pavard and Alphonso Davies ought to be the full-backs on the right and left sides, respectively, and will look to provide an attacking outlet going forward down their flanks.
Joshua Kimmich will anchor the midfield for the champions while also looking to use his vision and range of distribution to kickstart attacks. The returning Goretzka ought to be his partner, and he will look to push forward and join up in attack. Thomas Muller will continue in his usual ‘Raumdeuter’ role playing off of the main striker.
Leroy Sane did not start against Leverkusen last time and should make a return here while Jamal Musiala continues on the left flank after a couple of mighty impressive displays of late. The fit-again Lewandowski should spearhead the attack for Bayern meaning Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting will have to suffice with a place on the bench against his former club.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Boateng, Alaba, Davies; Kimmich, Goretzka; Sane, Muller, Musiala; Lewandowski
- Bayern Munich have picked up three points from each of their last eight visits to the Opel Arena, scoring at least twice on each occasion.
- Mainz (W4, D2) are enjoying their longest run without loss since November-December 2015 (W3, D3).
- Bayern have scored 20 times across the last four fixtures with Mainz, winning by scores of 6-0, 6-1, 3-1 and 5-2.
- Mainz haven’t beaten Bayern since a 2-1 win at the Allianz Arena in 2015/16, their sole victory from the last 18 meetings between the two (P18, W1, D2, L15).
- Bayern Munich star Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has scored in each of his last three appearances across all competitions. He has only ever managed this once before: in the Bundesliga in March 2014 for Mainz. He could now set a new personal record by scoring against his former employers.
Player to Watch
Robert Lewandowski is back in team training at Bayern Munich.
He needs five goals to match Gerd Muller's record of 40 in a Bundesliga season.
Bayern have four games remaining 👀 pic.twitter.com/cag74M53v5
— Goal (@goal) April 21, 2021
After an agonising spell out on the sidelines with an injury, Robert Lewandowski has returned to full training this week and is set to make his return for Bayern Munich. And, invariably, all the spotlights will once again be on him, as he bears down on Gerd Muller’s legendary record of 40 goals in a single league season.
So far this term, the Poland centre-forward has already plundered 35 goals and if not for the unfortunate injury, could already have overtaken Der Bomber. But now that he has had to sit out a few games, it will be interesting to see whether he is able to find his rhythm instantly and be among the goals, needing six goals from four games to make the record his own.
It bodes well for Lewandowski that he has such an amazing record against Mainz, having scored 18 times in 20 games, including in each of his last four appearances versus the Carnival club. A big game for the 32-year-old.
Mainz 1-2 Bayern Munich
Mainz are one of the form teams in the Bundesliga currently and will certainly take confidence from their first-half performance in the reverse fixture earlier this year, while they have also knocked down some big guns in recent weeks. So, it will be anything but easy for Bayern Munich at the Opel Arena this Saturday.
However, the record champions will be buoyed by the return of both Robert Lewandowski and Leon Goretzka. With them having the chance of wrapping up the season early, expect Bayern Munich to step it up accordingly and eke out a hard-fought victory taking them to their ninth consecutive Bundesliga title win.