Bayern Munich will be aiming to extend their lead at the top of the Bundesliga table when they take on Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday.
After a shocking 2-1 defeat to FC Augsburg in the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich appear to have lost a bit of ground in the Bundesliga title race. They are still leading the table with 28 points on the board, but rivals Borussia Dortmund are breathing down their necks.
There is just a one-point gap between the sides going into Matchday 13. Considering the fact that they face each other next weekend, this matchweek could be extremely important for the two German giants, with Bayern, in particular, looking to restore the four-point lead they had prior to the loss to Augsburg.
The Bavarians did return to winning ways with a victory over Dynamo Kyiv in the UEFA Champions League earlier this week. They hold a hundred per cent winning record in the competition, but it has been a different story in the Bundesliga.
Indeed, the German Rekordmeister have appeared susceptible against bottom-half teams. And after dropping points to Eintracht Frankfurt and Augsburg, they will be keen on avoiding another mishap this weekend when they welcome Arminia Bielefeld.
The club from North-Rhine Westphalia is currently 17th in the league table, three points away from the safe zone. The visitors have secured four points in their last two matches, but morale won’t be high after giving away a 2-0 lead to Wolfsburg on the last matchday.
Nevertheless, Frank Kramer’s men certainly know how to fight, and given the way Bayern have performed against certain relegation-threatened teams this season, the minnows have a considerable chance of coming away with something from this game.
Team News & Tactics
Personnel situation for tomorrow:
• Lucas & Goretzka fit to start
• Sabitzer, Nianzou & Sarr out with injuries
• Süle & Stanišić are available but won't start
• Gnabry, Musiala & Cuisance out of quarantine but won't start
• Kimmich & Choupo-Moting remain in isolation
— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) November 26, 2021
Bayern Munich were given a major blow this week after it was revealed that Joshua Kimmich has tested positive for COVID-19. Due to being unvaccinated, he will have to remain in quarantine for two weeks and is set to miss out on the upcoming games against Arminia Bielefeld and Borussia Dortmund.
For others who were already isolated, Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala and Michael Cuisance could all make the matchday squad. The two players who tested positive for COVID-19 in Niklas Sule and Josip Stanisic are also back available, although they aren’t expected to start. Meanwhile, after picking up recent injuries, Marcel Sabitzer, Tanguy Nianzou and Bouna Sarr have all been ruled out.
Julian Nagelsmann, therefore, is facing a major crisis, and it will be up to him to properly replace the missing players. Fortunately for the Bayern Munich boss, Leon Goretzka is fit to start and will occupy one of the two central midfield spots alongside Corentin Tolisso.
Defensively, the injury of Nianzou, as well as the unlikeliness of Sule getting a starting spot, should see Bayern continue with the central defensive combination of Dayot Upamecano and Lucas Hernandez. The French wave moving through the Bayern defence will continue at right-back, with Benjamin Pavard remaining a guaranteed starter.
Alphonso Davies should retain his spot at left-back, but the Canadian international will majorly feature alongside the wide attackers in Leroy Sane and Kingsley Coman. The onus will be on them and the number ten Thomas Muller to supplement Robert Lewandowski upfront this weekend.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Upamecano, Hernandez, Davies; Goretzka, Tolisso; Coman, Muller, Sane; Lewandowski
Arminia Bielefeld head coach Frank Kramer won’t have to deal with too many injuries heading into this game. As things stand, Vladislav Cherny and Arne Schulz remain the only guaranteed absentees for the visitors, who are likely to preserve their 4-2-3-1 shape.
Kramer will be taking notes from other sides that have succeeded against Bayern this season by deploying a physically strong forward in Fabian Klos. He can be a handful with his imposing presence upfront, while he is also one of the best in the league when it comes to aerial duels.
Behind the number nine, Arminia will put their faith in the creative trifecta of Masaya Okugawa, Alessandro Schopf and Patrick Wimmer. They offer excellent speed and mobility in the final third, making them a major threat on the counter. Thanks to their hard-working approach to the game, they can also prove to be useful in the first line of press.
The Arminia back four, led by the two central defenders in Joakim Nilsson and Amos Pieper, will be protected by Manuel Prietl and Sebastian Vasiliadis in the engine room. Both the midfielders are among the best in the league when it comes to covering the ground, and the return of Vasiliadis, in particular, has served as a major boost for Kramer this season.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ortega; Brunner, Pieper, Nilsson, Laursen; Prietl, Vasiliadis; Wimmer, Schopf, Okugawa; Klos
- Bayern Munich have scored an astonishing 101 times in the 2021 calendar year and can set a new Bundesliga record with a goal here.
- Despite last week’s defeat by Augsburg, Bayern still have more points now (28) than they have had at this stage of the season in any of the last three years.
- Fabian Klos and Masaya Okugawa have accounted for six of Arminia’s nine team goals so far this term. Only Greuther Furth have scored fewer (eight).
- Bielefeld midfielder Manuel Prietl has covered more ground (91.77 miles/147.7 kilometres) than any other Bundesliga player this season.
- Freiburg (five) are the only side to have conceded fewer goals on their travels than Bielefeld (six) this season.
Player to Watch
It is apparent that Corentin Tolisso does not have any future at Bayern Munich. His current contract in Bavaria expires at the end of the season, and the player will most likely be offloaded in the January transfer window.
However, at a time when the club is missing Joshua Kimmich and Marcel Sabitzer, Tolisso could do Bayern one last service by producing a memorable display in the upcoming games against Arminia Bielefeld and Borussia Dortmund.
The Frenchman has never really lived up to his potential since joining Bayern almost five years ago. But he will be aware that strong performances in the upcoming games could help him build a good rapport prior to his expected departure in January.
Bayern Munich 3-0 Arminia Bielefeld
Despite their absences of key players, Bayern Munich are unlikely to be stopped anytime soon, especially up against an Arminia team that is dawdling at the bottom end of the league table. Although the visitors can always produce a surprise, they simply do not have the quality to stop Bayern in their tracks and may end up as the second-best team this weekend.