Julian Nagelsmann will be expecting a strong reaction from his team as they take on VfB Stuttgart on Sunday.

Last weekend’s shocking 3-1 defeat at the hands of 1. FSV Mainz 05, coupled with vacation has left Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann disgruntled with his players.

Although they have secured their tenth consecutive title, Bayern have looked very inconsistent throughout the season and had to largely rely on the mediocrity of Borussia Dortmund to seal the league title. They were eliminated from the DFB Pokal and the UEFA Champions League as well, putting immense pressure on Nagelsmann heading into the summer.

Hence, it is imperative for Bayern Munich to react positively following their loss to Mainz, with Nagelsmann expecting nothing less than a victory that would take their tally to 78 points, equalling last season’s record under Hansi Flick.

Their job won’t be made any easier by Stuttgart, though, with the Swabians fighting for survival after a disastrous campaign, rife with injuries and lack of form. The visitors are currently hovering above the relegation playoff spot and must win this game if they are to have any hopes of not moving up the ladder.

With Hertha Berlin currently on 33 points, Stuttgart also need the capital club to drop points while Arminia Bielefeld are also breathing down their necks, and could potentially move one place up in the league table, which, in turn, could leave Stuttgart dawdling in the direct relegation spots.

Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their crucial encounter at the Allianz Arena this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich have been dealt with a few fresh blows heading into this contest, with Leroy Sane set to be ruled out due to cold. Bouna Sarr is another player missing, meaning Julian Nagelsmann could opt to start Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman on the wings.

There were a lot of changes on offer in the last game against Mainz. We are expecting yet another unpredictable starting eleven against Stuttgart, as Nagelsmann looks to hand some of the lesser-used players the opportunity to perform.

Josip Stanisic is among the players gunning for a start. He could occupy the right-back position, forming the back-four alongside Tanguy Nianzou, Lucas Hernandez and Alphonso Davies.

In midfield, there could be a start for Corentin Tolisso. The Frenchman could be playing his last home game for Bayern as he occupies the double-pivot alongside Joshua Kimmich. Nagelsmann has no shortage of alternatives, though, with Marc Roca, Marcel Sabitzer and Leon Goretzka all pushing for starts.

Bayern Munich’s attack should be spearheaded by none other than Robert Lewandowski. The Pole is likely to be partnered by Gnabry and Coman out wide, whereas Thomas Muller should occupy the number ten slot.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Stanisic, Nianzou, Hernandez, Davies; Kimmich, Tolisso; Gnabry, Muller, Coman; Lewandowski

VfB Stuttgart

Stuttgart have been quite unfortunate throughout the course of the campaign due to injuries. Even heading into this Bayern Munich fixture, they are missing key frontman Silas, along with a few other star performers including Pascal Stenzel, Naouirou Ahamada, Clinton Mola and Roberto Massimo.

Silas’ absence upfront has forced coach Pellegrino Matarazzo to bank his hopes on star striker Sasa Kalajdzic. The Austrian frontman will hope to use his imposing figure inside the box and get his head on crosses from left-back Borna Sosa, while Philipp Forster and Chris Fuhrich should provide additional creativity in the final third.

Moving into midfield, Wataru Endo’s leadership and game-reading abilities could be vital in offering protection for the backline. But the Japanese international would require proper support from midfield partner Atakan Karazor, one of many ex-BVB youth players in the team.

Stuttgart do have some firepower on the right, in the form of Tiago Tomas. But the young Portuguese must be aware of his defensive duties, especially up against the pacy Davies. Defensively, Matarazzo should persist with the back three consisting of Hiroki Ito, Waldemar Anton and Konstantinos Mavropanos, as they look to cover Florian Muller in goal.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Muller; Mavropanos, Anton, Ito; Tomas, Endo, Karazor, Sosa; Forster, Kalajdzic, Fuhrich

Key Stats

  • Robert Lewandowski hit a Bundesliga record 18th away goal of the season in Mainz, taking his tally to a league-leading 34.
  • Bayern have scored 93 times in the league this season. In the Hinrunde, they defeated Stuttgart 5-0 before beating Wolfsburg 4-0 — a repeat of that would see them beat their own Bundesliga record of 101.
  • Bayern suffered their fifth defeat of the season at Mainz last time out — that’s their most losses in a Bundesliga campaign since 2014/15. Having said that, they can still surpass last season’s points tally (78) as they currently sit on 75.
  • After an injury-ravaged season, striker Kalajdzic and centre-back Konstantinos Mavropanos are Stuttgart’s leading Bundesliga goalscorers with four apiece.
  • Stuttgart are in danger of changing division for the fifth time in seven years.

Player to Watch

Robert Lewandowski

Robert Lewandowski headed to Barcelona? (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

One last dance at Allianz Arena? (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

This could possibly be the final home game for Robert Lewandowski as a Bayern player. With his contract expiring at the end of next season, reports suggest the striker wants to leave Bavaria in favour of a new challenge elsewhere, having won almost everything in Germany.

Bayern Munich have no intention to release Lewandowski in the summer, knowing it will be very difficult for the club to find an immediate replacement. Lewandowski, though, will focus on the game ahead as he looks to end the campaign positively and make a case for his potential suitors, including FC Barcelona.

The Polish hitman has netted 34 goals in the Bundesliga this season. Although he may not equal his last season’s tally of 41 goals, we can never rule out the ex-Dortmund star, who does have an excellent scoring record against Stuttgart, effectively making him the number one threat for the Swabians this weekend.

Prediction

Bayern Munich 3-0 VfB Stuttgart

Following the defeat to Mainz, Bayern Munich will be hoping to produce a strong reaction, with Nagelsmann also expected to field a stronger starting eleven. Fortunately for them, they are up against a Stuttgart side that have looked extremely faulty defensively and simply lack the rhythm to stage an upset.

Even in the attacking department, the visitors have lacked consistency and have no real hope of earning a victory in this crucial game in the context of their relegation fight. We are expecting Bayern to dominate this affair and come away as 3-0 victors.

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