Preview: FC Bayern vs. 1. FC Nürnberg

Alexander Hassenstein

For the last time in a long time, FC Bayern's players had a week off (though some stayed active in a test match or in international duty). Now, the club faces off against The Club on Saturday's derby match, the beginning of a grueling spell of 9 matches in 32 days. Climb aboard as week look into ...

Match Week 12 of the 2012-2013 Bundesliga season. Bayern remains atop the table, with the only blemish on our (league) record a frustrating loss to Leverkusen. With so many tough matches on tap, it wouldn't be a surprise to see a little rotation this weekend. Nürnberg looks like a tempting opponent to take a breather against; a closer look at their record, however, reveals they can be a tough opponent if taken lightly.

The Line-Up

First, the injury report: Jerome Boateng is definitely out for the next few matches, and probably until the end of the month. Mario Gomez has returned from his long layoff, and is ready to go if needed (if we don't see him Saturday, we certainly will in the upcoming week or so). Holger Badstuber is facing a race to fitness, but hasn't returned to training yet, from what I can ascertain.

Here's my guess:

Mandzukic

Ribery - Kroos - Müller

Tymoschuk - Schweinsteiger

Alaba - Dante - van Buyten - Lahm

Neuer

Striker is a huge question mark, but I have a hunch Heynckes would prefer to bring on Gomez for the last 20 minutes or so. Let him get a good ovation from the crowd and make sure everything feels good, then he can start next week vs. Valencia. Badstuber may or may not be ready, but DvB and Dante is not a bad combo at CB, especially against a Nürnberg squad that, honestly, is not very threatening offensively. And rushing Holger back too soon only to see him get hurt again would be a nightmare at this point.

Tymoschuk? Just a hunch. He played the second half only in the Ukraine friendly yesterday, which means he's fit but not exhausted. I actually wouldn't be shocked to see Rafinha or Contento start, either, but already used up my "wild guess" on Tymo.

The Opponent

Interesting bit of trivia: 1. FC Nürnberg were Germany's rekordmeister before Bayern overtook them in the 1980s. Their current incarnation is not a championship threat, although they have spent 8 of the past 10 years in the top division. Last year was a mostly forgettable mid-table finish for Der Club. They were never in danger of relegation, being completely unable to match the putritude of Koeln and K'slautern, but were not terribly close to any European spots, either. This year portends a little more excitement, as Nürnberg might have to hustle just to stay up: they currently sit in 15th, out of the relegation playoff spot only thanks to goal differential.

FCN is not without any skill, though. So far this season, they secured their first win over Hamburg in over a decade, held Dortmund to a 1-1 draw (and nearly beat them, with Weidenfeller saving a late tight-angle shot), and two weeks ago, they defended well in their 1-0 win over VfL.

Der Club can be expected to play defensively, but their defensive set is not a 9-men-in-the-box fortress. They mainly run a 4-1-4-1, almost like Jogi was doing with the national team for a while, but with the attacking middie line held further back (often basically straddling the center line). Bayern's CMs can expect to find it (relatively) easy to win possession, but then to be set upon immediately, before any chance to work the ball upfield. The advantage for us, though, is that our wings may have some space to operate down either flank.

Also, FCN's joint-leading scorer this year, with a single goal, is nine different dudes. I guess there's something admirable in that. We should probably just find their handful of guys who HAVEN'T scored yet, and mark them.

Elsewhere in the Competition

Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt have relatively easy matches (SpVgg GF and Augsburg, respectively), but Schalke doesn't get a pass: Die Blau und Scheiss travel to Leverkusen, who are unbeaten at home. Also, quietly-competitive Mainz takes on Hamburg SV in an interesting match. Sunday's slate is pretty boring, with no teams in the top-8 active. If you ever wanted to take a day off, that might be it.

Final Notes

- The match will be carried live on Gol! TV, and will kick off at 3:30 PM local time. To check ... come on, you know the rest:

Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com

- An interesting article on the club's official site about Bernd Rauch and Dr. Fritz Scherer, team VPs who are preparing to step down after over 30 years. I'd never known much about Rauch, but apparently he's the team's architect and engineer, and helped with several projects (including the Allianz).

- We may or may not have some video fun in the offing for tomorrow night. So check back a few minutes before game time on Saturday, if you can spare the time. Thanks for reading.

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