Bayern Munich will be hoping to extend their winning run to seven games in all competitions when they take on VfL Bochum on Saturday.
The idea of fan culture and fan friendship is seemingly waning as the modern era holds its grip on European football, but Bayern Munich will revive one of the oldest Fanfreundschaft in Germany when they play hosts to VfL Bochum at the Allianz Arena.
It all started in the early 1970s when Bayern fans were attacked during an away game at Bochum. Members of the Bochum group called “Bochumer jungen”, one of the oldest fan groups in Germany, shortly came to their rescue and later shared drinks in a pub. Since then, a few ups and downs included, the two set of supporters have enjoyed an excellent relationship with one another.
Unfortunately, Bayern and Bochum were mostly apart for the past decade or so. But that changed last season when Die Unabsteigbaren won 2.Bundesliga title to secure top-flight football for the first time in 11 years. The two clubs meet on Saturday, a fixture that could yield both cultural and sporting significance.
For Bayern, it is about maintaining their push at the top of the Bundesliga table. They are currently in second position thanks to VfL Wolfsburg’s incredible start to the season. But the ravenous Wolves face a tricky test against Eintracht Frankfurt this weekend, giving the hosts an ideal opportunity to potentially pip them for the top spot.
The Bavarians are coming on the back of a thumping 3-0 win over FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League. They are expected to don a special kit designed by Adidas in the wake of the incoming Oktoberfest.
Bochum, meanwhile, have endured a rather unfortunate start to the campaign, securing three points from four matches. They were quite wasteful in their previous game against Hertha Berlin, losing 3-1 despite creating more chances.
Thomas Reis’ men will need to be much more clinical if they are to have any hopes of salvaging anything against a club like Bayern. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their exciting match-up at the Allianz Arena this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
Kingsley Coman was already undergoing heart tests last week. Last Friday, he was spotted training with ECG electrodes glued to his stomach and chest. Coman still traveled to Barcelona and took part in the game [📸 Bild] pic.twitter.com/ehxA0afV8D
— Bayern & Die Mannschaft (@iMiaSanMia_en) September 17, 2021
Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann is set to make some alterations from the side that faced Barcelona in midweek. Kingsley Coman is a confirmed absentee and has been ruled out for two weeks, but it does not guarantee a spot for Jamal Musiala, who had started in the last game.
It is Serge Gnabry who is likely to step up, as he slots into the creative trifecta alongside Leroy Sane and Thomas Muller, just in behind the main forward Robert Lewandowski. The two wide players really need to step up their game if they are to retain their place in the starting eleven, especially with Musiala seemingly becoming a force to be reckoned with.
In midfield, Bayern Munich are set to persist with Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka, who has recently signed a contract extension until 2026. It is reported that Kimmich’s presence in the team played a vital role in convincing the former Schalke prodigy to extend his future at Bayern, which is not a surprise as the two complements each other perfectly in the middle of the park.
As for the defensive department, there are some issues that need to be settled as Bayern Munich have looked quite vulnerable on the counter. Fortunately, Dayot Upamecano was in top form in midweek and should marshall the Bavarian backline, alongside Lucas Hernandez as they protect Manuel Neuer in goal.
Josip Stanisic, meanwhile, could come in for Benjamin Pavard at right-back. The young Croat is a tactically astute fullback who can shift into a central role in order to counteract the opposition press. Nagelsmann could opt to make a rotation at left-back, but it might be a foolish thing to do given the current form of Alphonso Davies.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Stanisic, Upamecano, Hernandez, Davies; Kimmich, Goretzka; Gnabry, Muller, Sane; Lewandowski
VfL Bochum are missing some key players heading into this game including Simon Zoller, Cristian Gamboa, Paul Grave, Luis Hartwig and Maxim Leitsch.
Zoller’s absence is a big one as it devoids coach Reis with a viable goalscoring option upfront. While Sebastian Polter will continue to spearhead the Bochum attack, they will miss that experience and productivity upfront.
— VfL Bochum 1848 (@VfLBochum1848EN) September 17, 2021
Former Eintracht Frankfurt starlet Danny Blum is expected to replace Zoller out wide, forming Bochum’s attacking unit alongside Polter and the exciting dribbler Gerrit Holtmann.
Reis favoured Eduard Lowen in the number ten slot last weekend, but given the quality of the opposition, he might opt for a more experienced, defensive figure of Robert Tesche, alongside Elvis Rexbecaj and captain Anthony Losilla in Bochum’s second line of press that will play a crucial role in offering cover to the backline.
Speaking of which, Bochum’s defence is not the sharpest. But in Armel Bella Kotchap, they have one of Germany’s exciting young talents, who will hope to shut the gates for Lewandowski and Co. with the help of Vasilios Lampropoulos. Konstantinos Stafylidis and Danilo Soares are set to provide additional support as fullbacks, covering Manuel Riemann in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Riemann; Stafylidis, Bella Kotchap, Lampropoulos, Soares; Tesche, Losilla, Rexbecaj; Blum, Polter, Holtmann
- Robert Lewandowski has scored in each of his last 12 home games in the Bundesliga. He will become the first Bundesliga player in history to score in 13 if he finds the target against Bochum.
- Jamal Musiala has been involved in a goal every 42 minutes on average this season. A better return than both Lewandowski or Erling Haaland.
- Bayern have won each of their last six competitive outings, scoring 30 goals in the process. The defending Bundesliga champions are unbeaten in their last 29 games at the Allianz Arena.
- VfL Bochum forward Simon Zoller has scored 13 times in 80 Bundesliga games, compared to Lewandowski’s 283 in 354.
- Bochum have won only one of their last 30 competitive games against Bayern, more than 17 years ago on 4 February 2004, under head coach Peter Neururer in a 1-0 win at home.
Player to Watch
112 – Most goals in all competitions for clubs in Europe's big five leagues since the start of 2019-20:
112 – Lewandowski
76 – Mbappé
76 – Ronaldo
73 – Haaland
69 – Messi
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 14, 2021
Robert Lewandowski is one of the most talked-about in world football right now and arguably the best-performing individual over the past two seasons. His brace against FC Barcelona in midweek further depicted his goalscoring pedigree, with the forward currently enjoying an 18 scoring streak in all competitions.
VfL Bochum could become the latest casualty for the Polish international, having previously faced him just twice over the past decade. Both came in Bayern Munich colours, with the 33-year-old notably netting a brace in the 2015/16 DFB Pokal quarter-final. He failed to score in the second round of the DFB Pokal tie during the 2019/20 campaign, though.
Nevertheless, given the current form of Lewandowski, it will be a difficult job for Bochum to escape the wrath of Bayern Munich forward, who himself will be keen on finding the back of the net, especially with Erling Haaland breathing down his neck with four goals.
Bayern Munich 4-0 VfL Bochum
VfL Bochum are an interesting outfit that should not be taken tightly, as Mainz figured out earlier in the campaign. But with Zoller and many other key players missing, it is hard to forecast anything other than a comfortable win for Bayern Munich, whose current form may even see them score at least four goals past Reis’ men this weekend.