Bayern Munich are aiming to maintain their stunning run of form as they take on Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.
Bayern Munich will look to move one step closer towards securing their tenth successive Bundesliga title when they lock horns with Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday. Thanks to Borussia Dortmund’s disappointing draw with Augsburg last weekend, the Bavarians are now leading the table by eight points.
While a lot could still change given that there are ten games remaining until the end of the season, Bayern will be hoping to put an end to Dortmund’s hopes of a late comeback with a win this weekend. It could temporarily extend their lead to eleven points as Dortmund’s game against SC Freiburg this weekend was postponed due to a Covid crisis in the Freiburg camp.
However, in Leverkusen, Bayern face one of the most challenging teams in Germany. Currently sitting pretty in third place, Die Werkself have impressed onlookers with their attacking performances in recent weeks, having won five of their last six matches. The run even included a 5-2 victory over Borussia Dortmund, which played a vital role in shifting the dynamic of the title race.
Leverkusen’s current objective is to secure Champions League qualification. With RB Leipzig, TSG Hoffenheim and SC Freiburg breathing down their necks, there should be no room for complacency, with Gerardo Seoane’s men hoping to win at least a point on Saturday.
Team News & Tactics
Leon Goretzka has had his best week of rehab since his injury. The player completed a 45-minute session today with passing drills, dribbling, sprints and slalom runs. The knee is barely causing him problems anymore. Return to team training expected in 1-2 weeks [Bild] pic.twitter.com/eBQelxZaSR
— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) March 4, 2022
Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann provided updates on the injured players ahead of the game. Leon Goretzka and Manuel Neuer are doing well and should be back soon, with the latter expected to make his return in the midweek Champions League game against RB Salzburg. Alphonso Davies, though, could take longer and is unlikely to return this month.
Davies’ continued absence has created a major selection dilemma for Nagelsmann, with the German often having to deploy a back three that has appeared far too vulnerable. Given the attacking firepower Leverkusen have, it would not be surprising to see Nagelsmann opting for a back four, with Lucas Hernandez occupying the left-back slot.
Thomas Muller, meanwhile, is back in contention after missing the last game due to COVID-19. He should occupy the number ten role, with Leroy Sane also making his return at the expense of Serge Gnabry. Robert Lewandowski remains the undisputed leader of the Bayern frontline, as the Pole hopes to maintain his superb run of form.
Another key area is the midfield. While Joshua Kimmich is a guaranteed starter in the number six slot, it will be interesting to see who starts alongside him in the number eight role. With Goretzka still not fully fit, Jamal Musiala is the likeliest candidate as Naglesmann continues to groom him into a competent number eight.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ulreich; Pavard, Upamecano, Sule, Hernandez; Kimmich, Musiala; Coman, Muller, Sane; Lewandowski
Bayer Leverkusen head coach Gerardo Seoane is missing a few key players of his own, including the influential frontman and top goalscorer Patrik Schick. The Czech international’s absence could create a major void in Leverkusen’s attacking unit, though his backup Lucas Alario has done an excellent job so far.
— Bayer 04 Leverkusen (@bayer04_en) March 1, 2022
Seoane is expected to make a few changes to the starting eleven, with Amine Adli tipped to make a return to the starting eleven. The youngster is a more technical replacement for Paulinho and can effortlessly slot into a more central role, partnering with Alario.
It could ultimately unlock the ability to shift into a 4-4-2 with Florian Wirtz moving out wide. However, that remains unlikely as Seoane persists with a 4-2-3-1 setup designed to maximise the threat on the counter.
The other change in the side could come in midfield, with Kerem Demirbay tipped to replace Exequiel Palacios. The former Hoffenheim starlet is familiar with Nagelsmann’s tactics and can offer variety in midfield, alongside the combative and hard-working Charles Aranguiz.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Hradecky; Frimpong, Tah, Tapsoba, Bakker; Aranguiz, Demirbay; Diaby, Wirtz, Adli; Alario
- Robert Lewandowski has only failed to reach double figures for goals against three of the 18 Bundesliga clubs he has faced at least 10 times. Leverkusen are one of them (eight goals in 19 appearances).
- The game marks Nagelsmann’s 335th in all competitions as a first-team coach (including U19s level). His record is W185, D77, L72.
- Bayern Munich have won their last four league meetings with Leverkusen in a row and have only lost four of the previous 28.
- Moussa Diaby is enjoying career-best form with 12 goals and seven assists in the ongoing Bundesliga season.
- Bayer Leverkusen have claimed 16 points compared to Bayern’s 15 in seven Bundesliga games in 2022. Only Leipzig have more (18) this calendar year.
Player to Watch
Leroy Sane has 13 goals and 13 assists in all competitions this season.
But keep sleeping on him 🤫 pic.twitter.com/GCQTS6c11N
— GOAL (@goal) February 27, 2022
Leroy Sane is certainly the one to watch out for after playing a vital role in helping Bayern Munich secure a narrow win over Eintracht Frankfurt last time out. The winger has been quite influential in the last few matches, and it was his creativity in the second half that shifted the momentum back into his team’s favour.
Sane will be hoping for a similar influence when his side takes on Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday. The return of Muller could alter his role to an extent, but the German international remains a major threat due to his ability to cut inside and test the opposition goalkeeper. It is something Lukas Hradecky needs to be wary of.
Bayern Munich 3-2 Bayer Leverkusen
This promises to be an entertaining encounter given the raw attacking quality possessed by both sets of teams. Despite their good form, Leverkusen have always historically underperformed against Bayern Munich. It was evident in the reverse fixture when they were beaten 5-1 or even in the Hinrunde last season when they succumbed to a crucial defeat that turned their season upside down.
Leverkusen have improved significantly since, but the solidity and big-game mentality are still missing within the current set of players. As such, we are expecting Bayern to claim all three points, albeit in a closely fought encounter that could witness their defence once again getting annihilated.