Bayern Munich will be hoping to build a winning momentum when they play hosts to 1.FC Koln at the Allianz Arena on Sunday.
A midweek triumph over Borussia Dortmund to win the DFL Supercup might just prove to be an ideal headstart Bayern Munich had wanted, ahead of their important home game against 1.FC Koln on Sunday.
The Bavarians certainly haven’t had the best of starts to the season, notably being held to a 1-1 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach in their opening fixture. That coupled with their poor pre-season has mounted a lot of pressure on new coach Julian Nagelsmann.
Fortunately for him, a convincing 3-1 victory over Dortmund in midweek, which was also the first trophy of his managerial career, should give the Bavarians some much-needed confidence heading the clash.
In what will be Nagelsmann’s first game in charge at the Allianz Arena, he will have the backing up of a large contingent of local Bayern supporters. But in 1.FC Koln, they have a tricky opponent that started their 2021/22 Bundesliga campaign with a resounding 3-1 victory over Hertha Berlin.
The Billygoats have indicated that they are ready to take the Bundesliga by storm and are more than capable of producing an upset, especially against a Bayern team that is undergoing a transitional phase. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look at their chances of doing so in this exciting Bundesliga matchup this weekend.
Tactics & Team News
Bayern Munich were dealt with a massive blow this week after it was revealed that Manuel Neuer had picked up a knock on his ankle. He potentially joins Kingsley Coman, Lucas Hernandez, Benjamin Pavard and Marc Roca in the list of absentees for the hosts, thus paving the way for Sven Ulreich to make an appearance in between the sticks.
🗣️ @J__Nagelsmann: "Sven is doing well. @Manuel_Neuer has not trained. It's nothing major, he just needs a rest. At the moment, I don't think he will play, but we'll keep checking every day. Today, he wasn't in training, but Sven did well."#KOEFCB pic.twitter.com/gI4CwsdmEJ
— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) August 20, 2021
Nageslmann is unlikely to make any other defensive changes, with Josip Stanisic continuing at right-back. The young Croat has shone for Bayern in these early stages, showcasing excellent tactical awareness and has been often seen operating in a central role to counteract the opposition press.
He and Alphonso Davies remain critical elements in Bayern’s build-up play, while Niklas Sule and Dayot Upamecano are hoping to keep their first clean sheet under the Nagelsmann era.
Options are limited in midfield as well, so the Bavarians could continue with the double-pivot of Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka. While these two offer excellent stability, they are also a threat in the attacking department, with Goretzka, in particular, boasting the ability to drive forward into the box.
Corentin Tolisso could make a second-half appearance to provide a breather for any of these two individuals. But largely, Nagelsmann should opt for the creative trifecta of Leroy Sane, Thomas Muller and Serge Gnabry, with Robert Lewandowski spearheading the attack.
Jamal Musiala is an option on the bench and may play a more prominent role this weekend. The same can be said for new signing Omar Richards and the young Chris Richards in the defensive department.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ulreich; Stanisic, Sule, Upamecano, Davies; Kimmich, Goretzka; Sane, Muller, Gnabry; Lewandowski
Koln head coach Steffen Baumgart is likely to continue with the 4-1-3-2 formation that worked like a charm against Hertha. But given the quality of the opposition, he might opt for more support for defensive midfielder Ellyes Skhiri.
🎙 Baumgart on @FCBayernEN: They always have the will to win. There are players in every position who are amongst the best in the world. We want to learn from such games. #FCBKOE #effzeh pic.twitter.com/njd7Ca5QnP
— 1. FC Cologne (@fckoeln_en) August 20, 2021
Dejan Ljubicic could thus operate in a deeper role, almost alongside Skhiri in the double-pivot. The two will play a key role in breaking Bayern’s momentum in the middle of the park and providing cover for the central defensive duo of Rafael Czichos and Jorge Mere, who should slot in place of the injured Timo Hubers.
As for the full-back positions, Benno Schmitz and captain Jonas Hector remain guaranteed starters, with the former enjoying a prominent role in the starting eleven due to the summer departure of Ismail Jakobs.
In attack, Koln boast the services of some talented players including the homegrown prodigy Jan Thielmann. Ondrej Duda, too, is pushing for a start but may have to settle for the bench once again due to Florian Kainz’s sensational brace last time out that should be enough for him to retain his place in the side.
Thielmann and Kainz remain two of Koln’s main sources of creativity out wide. But in central areas of the park, the onus will be on Mark Uth to offer creativity and catch the opposition on the counter. He will operate just behind the target man Anthony Modeste.
Probable Lineup (4-2-2-2): Horn; Schmitz, Mere, Czichos, Hector; Skhiri, Ljubicic; Thielmann, Kainz; Uth, Modeste
- Julian Nagelsmann is winless in four Bundesliga matches (D2, L2), dating back to 25 April 2021.
- Bayern Munich are on the longest unbeaten home run of any current Bundesliga club (W22, D5).
- Jonas Hector is set to make his 168th Bundesliga appearance. The Koln skipper has faced Bayern eight times, losing seven and drawing one.
- Anthony Modeste scored his first Bundesliga goal since June 2020 last time out. He has netted twice in nine previous games against Bayern, but like Hector is winless in all of them (D2, L7).
- Koln are above Bayern in the Bundesliga standings for the first time in seven years but have taken one from a possible 42 points in their last 14 Bundesliga meetings with the record champions.
Player to Watch
Alphonso Davies has been one of Bayern Munich’s best players in these early parts of the campaign. After struggling with injuries for the most part of last season, the Canadian international has made a quick comeback, becoming a lynchpin in Julian Nagelsmann’s versatile defensive backline.
The 34-year-old tactician’s fluidic system seems to bring the best of Davies. His raw pace, combined with dribbling prowess and ability to find players with long forward passes have combined well with the club’s more dynamic attackers like Sane, Gnabry and Coman.
What has truly impressed the onlookers, however, is the left-back’s improvement in the defence. He is marking players much better and will be hoping to produce yet another clinical display against Koln this weekend.
Bayern Munich 3-0 1.FC Koln
Bayern Munich are the undisputed favourites heading into this encounter despite their indifferent form. The midweek win over Dortmund will be enough to break the shackles for the Bavarian outfit, who will be ready and energized, as they look to get back to winning ways in the Bundesliga and start putting early pressure on the fellow title challengers.
Koln, meanwhile, may struggle defensively while creating very little chances going forward. Their main forward Modeste must prevail against Upamecano if they are to have any chances of scoring any goal in this fixture, with The Hard Tackle predicting a comfortable 3-0 win for the hosts.