Preview: FC Bayern vs. Fortuna Düsseldorf

Dennis Grombkowski

After an international break that lasted 2 weeks and felt even longer, the German Bundesliga is back in action. Bayern Munich, undefeated and sitting atop the table, goes on the road to face a defensively stout Fortuna club in ....

Match Week 8 of the 2012-2013 Bundeliga season. Bayern still maintains a perfect record in league play, although the 1 loss we sustained in Champions League action was enough to raise eyebrows and ensure that no one takes any opponent lightly. We've now got a tough stretch of matches, with multiple matches a week for the next several weeks. Luckily, the club will be bolstered by ...

The Line-Up

RETURN OF ALABASTER!

David Alaba got hurt during training camp, in a July 20 friendly/scrimmage vs. Napoli. At the time, the recovery period was unclear, but I think they estimated 6 or 8 weeks. It's been almost 15 weeks, but it appears he's (finally) fully fit: Alaba had a goal and 2 assists yesterday, as Austria thrashed Kazakhstan. I know Kazakhstan isn't the toughest opponent, but they held Austria to a tie not long ago. With Alabaster back in the line-up and in control, Austria looked a different team, dominating possession and threatening almost every time they got forward.

In other roster news: Robben is still bothered by a muscle injury and Mario Gomez has yet to give any timetable on his return. Ordinarily, I might suspect that a guy coming off a long layoff might be likely to get action from the bench, but Alaba looked good for Austria and we really did play better last year with him at LB, so I have a hunch we might throw him out there right away:

Mandzukic

Ribery - Kroos - Müller

Schweinsteiger - Martinez

Alaba - Badstuber - Dante - Lahm

Neuer

Only things that could be different would be Shaqiri in at one of the wing spots, or Boateng instead of one of the CBs. Again, this is just my guess.

The Opponent

All 3 of the newly-promoted 1. Bundesliga sides are giving it a go through the first 7 weeks. Greuther Fuerth is having the toughest time, mired at the bottom of the table. But they've looked halfway decent at times, beating a respectable Mainz squad a fighting to a draw vs. Wolfsburg. Eintracht Frankfurt, of course, has been the story of the young season, sitting in 2nd place ahead of Schalke, Dortmund and Hannover.

Well, Fortuna Düsseldorf is nestled somewhere between these 2. They aren't quite lighting the league on fire, but they certainly are earning some respect and look they they belong at the highest level. GK Fabian Giefer has been carrying this team for much of the season, especially in the early going, when he opened 1. Bundeliga play with 5 straight clean sheets. He's looked a little more human since then, but Fortuna D still presents a tough nut to crack for opposing offenses, with veteran Jens Langeneke anchoring the defense in front of Giefer. I dare say they haven't seen anything like what Bayern can throw at them, though.

In the middle and front of the formation, Fortuna has a little less experience. But they can't be completely ignored, as Dani Schahin and Robbie Kruse are both capable of cashing in if Bayern makes a mistake. But the strength of this club is definitely towards the back, and they will probably be sitting back in a defensive set, despite the fact that they'll be playing at home.

Elsewhere in the Competition

So, hey, how about FC Augsburg picking up their first win right before the international break? The Auggies go for 2 straight when they visit Nürnberg on Sunday. But first, there's a Revierderby on Saturday, as Schalke travels to Dortmund. Eintracht Frankfurt will host H96 in another interesting match-up.

So, in fact, 6 of the top 7 are in action against each other. In college football, they would describe it like this: (7) Fortuna at (1) Bayern, (5) Hannover 96 at (2) Eintracht Frankfurt, and (3) Schalke at (4) Borussia Dortmund.

Only 6th-place Leverkusen gets a (relatively) easier time, hosting Mainz. Also, Hoffenheim and SpVgg kick off in a few hours. Neither is threatening the top of the table, but Hoffenheim has looked decent recently and SpVgg actually does better on the road, so this could be a not-horrible match.

Final Notes

- The match will be carried live on Gol! TV. Later on Saturday, they will replay the S04-BVB match, so there's a pretty good menu of football if you're free on Saturday.

- The match kicks off at 3:30 Munich time on Saturday - click below to see the time in your (current) zone

Time zone converter at worldtimebuddy.com

- Anyone still having tech/loading/access problems? The new set of fixes and software updates have been rolled out by the tech crew. On my mobile and my laptop, the site now loads quickly and I can access all features (comments, video, log-in is pretty easy). But if you're having trouble and you can't get something to work or can't access something, PLEASE email me at bayern.offside@yahoo.com or tweet me at http:twitter.com/BavarianFBWorks and let me know. The big bosses up top want everyone to know that we're taking all tech problems very seriously and we don't want anyone to get left behind.

- I will be watching the match, and I'll have the Match Day Thread up during. But, I may or may not have time to do a recap and video highlights. Saturday afternoon, I'm travelling to Flatbush to watch my favorite boxer, Erik "El Terible" Morales, christen the new Barclays Center. If I don't have time for a recap, I'll be back by Sunday evening with something new at that point. Thanks for reading.

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