Match Week 18 of the Bundesliga season. As we discussed earlier in the week, the second half can be viewed in 4 parts. The first one starts this Saturday, and will last for 5 weeks. Barring anything crazy, we'll finish this period still atop the standings no matter what. But as far as preparing for the rest of the run-in, it would be better if Bayern could win 4 or 5 of the 5, and maintain (or even increase) our position in the league.
Aside from long-term surgery recoverees, Bayern has a full roster to choose from. Gustavo has fully recovered and was able to play a full 45 minutes in the S04 friendly. Both Marios are fully fit and ready to go. I guess I'll predict Heynckes will give the nod to Mario, and I'm also going to go out on a bit of limb at the RW spot. My prediction:
Ribery - Müller - Robben
Martinez - Schweinsteiger
Alaba - Dante - Boateng - Lahm
It almost sounds like a strange thing to say about a squad that's joint-bottom in the league, but I actually don't think SpVgg's first half was all that terrible. A couple of tough 1-goal losses, including a recent 1-0 loss to VfB in which they hit the crossbar late in the second half, make their record appear worse than it is. And even in their 3-0 loss to Bayern in the opener, Fuerth fought pretty hard and kept us off the board for the first 42 minutes.
Offense has been a problem (their 11 goals scored are lowest in the league), but the young Hungarian Zoltan Stieber has been a bright spot. He has 3 goals and has been their most threatening offensive presence. And German U-21 international Lasse Sobiech, on loan from BVB, has had a few good moments, including a dramatic late goal vs. Hoffenheim to earn Fuerth a point.
Despite the presence of these two, expect a defensive side (especially on the road) as SpVgg will do anything to try to earn a point.
Elsewhere in the Competition
A full slate of matches on tap, starting with today's clash between Schalke and Hannover 96. Tomorrow, Dortmund travels to Bremen and Mainz hosts Freiburg in a battle between teams with European ambitions. But the game of the weekend is probably Eintracht vs. Leverkusen, as two of our closest pursuers go head to head from the BayArena. If Eintracht can get even a point from here, they serve notice that they're a real threat to end up in a CL spot.
- The match kicks off at 3:30 local time from the Allianz Arena tomorrow. To confirm the time in your current area, click the button below:
Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com
- We're carried live on Gol! TV, and at 6:30 German time (12:30 PM my time) they'll also be carrying the Dortmund match live. If you've been going through Bundesliga withdrawal, here's a good chance to get your fix.
- It's been an exciting week with the Guardiola news, but it's time to put all that aside for now. This is still Jupp Heynckes' team for the next 5 months, and there's a lot of work to be done. A nice winning streak to start the second half would be out in good shape. Thanks for reading.