Bayern Munich are set to lock horns with Arminia Bielefeld on Sunday, with the Bavarians looking to bounce back from a defeat to Villarreal.

Bayern Munich’s shock exit from the UEFA Champions League at the hands of Villarreal has put immense pressure on Julian Nagelsmann as well as the board members including Hasan Salihamidzic and chairman Oliver Kahn.

Speaking ahead of the game, Nagelsmann has admitted he has even received death threats from fans after his side lost to Villarreal 2-1 on aggregate in the quarter-final of Champions League. The Bayern coach has received a lot of heat throughout the year for his tactical decisions, with many questioning his player management skills.

With nothing left to play for, Bayern Munich’s focus will shift to the Bundesliga when they take on Arminia Bielefeld on Sunday. A win for the Bavarians could help them move one step closer towards securing a tenth successive league title.

Bayern currently have a nine-point advantage at the top of the Bundesliga table, with very little chance of late-season collapse. But in Arminia, they are facing a daunting challenge against one of the most hard-working teams in the division.

The minnows are currently hovering around the relegation play-off spot, but a surprise could potentially help them drive out of the drop zone. At the same time, a loss can drag them back to the direct relegation spots, so it is imperative for Frank Kramer’s men to remain resolute and snatch at least a point against the Rekordmeister this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

Arminia Bielefeld

Arminia Bielefeld are missing two key players heading into this contest, including Cedric Brunner and the legendary Fabian Klos. Their absence could prove to be critical in the defensive and offensive departments, though Kramer has no shortage of alternatives for their respective options.

Nathan de Medina, for one, has deputized for the injured Brunner at right-back in the past and do so once again this weekend. He should accompany Amos Pieper, Joakim Nilsson and Andres Andrade in Arminia’s back four, with Stefan Ortega starting in between the sticks.

In midfield, Kramer could potentially recall Fabian Kunze in the double-pivot given the quality of the opposition. Kunze’s defensive traits could be useful alongside the hard-working Manuel Prietl.

The introduction of Kunze should see Alessandro Schopf moving into an advanced role, thus forming the creative trifecta alongside Masaya Okugawa and the exciting Patrick Wimmer, who is often labelled as the “Jack Grealish of Bundesliga”.

As for the goalscoring department, the onus will be on Janni Luca Serra to bury the limited opportunities that will be handed to Arminia this weekend. Arminia do not have too many alternatives so it is imperative that the former BVB youngster plays to his potential against Bayern.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ortega; de Medina, Pieper, Nilsson, Andrade; Kunze, Prietl; Wimmer, Schopf, Okugawa; Serra

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Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich have been boosted by the return of a majority of their injured players in recent weeks, including Alphonso Davies and Leon Goretzka, though neither of them has been able to hit the ground running.

Davies was hugely criticised for failing to mark Gerard Moreno for the late Villarreal equaliser in midweek. But the Canadian international will have the opportunity to make amends by producing a strong attacking display at left-back this weekend.

Davies’s inclusion in the side could come at the expense of Lucas Hernandez, although Nagelsmann is most likely to adopt a three-man backline. It could, in turn, see Davies operate as a left wing-back, whereas Hernandez may appear at centre-back alongside Dayot Upamecano and Benjamin Pavard.

The midfield should remain unchanged, with Joshua Kimmich and Goretzka occupying the double-pivot. But it will be interesting to see if Nagelsmann opts for Kingsley Coman at right wing-back, especially when Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane are also options.

Centrally, Jamal Musiala is a favourite to start despite his underwhelming display against Villarreal. It will be imperative that he and Thomas Muller perform to their potential and offer creative support to Robert Lewandowski, who might be playing his last few matches for Bayern Munich amid reports linking him to a move to FC Barcelona.

Probable Lineup (3-2-4-1): Neuer; Pavard, Upamecano, Hernandez; Kimmich, Goretzka; Coman, Muller, Musiala, Davies; Lewandowski

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Key Stats

  • Masaya Okugawa is Bielefeld’s eight-goal top scorer. He’s also previously scored against Bayern for Red Bull Salzburg in last season’s UEFA Champions League.
  • Arminia as a team lead the division for challenges contested (224 per game) and have covered the most distance (74.1 miles/119.2 km).
  • Bielefeld have just won two of their 14 home games this term but have also only lost four.
  • Robert Lewandowski has scored three goals in as many career meetings with Bielefeld.
  • Only five of Bayern’s 27 Bundesliga wins against Bielefeld have been by more than a two-goal margin. The victory in Munich this season was only 1-0.

Player to Watch

Thomas Muller

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Thomas Muller has faced fierce criticism from Bayern Munich and Germany fans for his underwhelming performances since the turn of the year. He performed badly even in the midweek game against Villarreal, missing two glorious second-half opportunities to put his side in front and potentially kill the tie.

There is no secret that Muller has lost his goalscoring touch ever since the departure of Pep Guardiola. But this year, the German international has struggled to even create chances on a consistent basis.

While the playmaker still leads the charts for assists in the Bundesliga with 16, he hasn’t created a single goal in the last five matches. It is a cause for concern for Bayern Munich, though the player will have the opportunity to put an end to his drought with a strong showing against Arminia Bielefeld this weekend.

Prediction

Arminia Bielefeld 0-1 Bayern Munich

Arminia Bielefeld are a sturdy team, that know how to remain resolute at the back and offer minimum goalscoring opportunities to their opponent. But they have a poor attacking lineup and are often far too reliant on the goalscoring prowess of Okugawa or the creativity of Wimmer. With Klos out injured, it is hard to imagine the hosts managing to find the back of the net.

However, they could make life difficult for the Bayern Munich attackers, who have not been in great form in recent weeks. And judging by the historic trend of results between these two sides, it won’t be surprising to see Bayern win by a slender one-goal margin.

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