Preview: FC Bayern vs. Bayer Leverkusen

Alexander Hassenstein

After a wild week, Bayern heads back to domestic play. This week, we're on the road to face the one team that has beaten us in the Bundesliga this season. I don't know if it qualifies as a "revenge" game, but it's always a good match-up, and also a chance for Bayern to restore some confidence and inch closer to the Bundesliga finish line. We have the prime-time Saturday slot in ...

Match Week 26 of the 2012-2013 Bundesliga season. The past 8 days have been busy; if you need to get caught up, you can click through any of these links to read about Boateng netting a match-winner with his first Bayern goal, Arsenal beating us in the CL second-leg game but Bayern still managing to advance, a host of other wild games in the CL leading to the field narrowing to 8 quarterfinalists, and this morning's draw matching Bayern against Juventus in the next round.

In the league, Bayern currently holds a 20 point lead over Dortmund and a 21-point lead over tomorrow's opponents. After tomorrow, we will have only 8 matches to play and hopefully a lead of 20 points or more. In fact, there's a good chance we could clinch the title before the end of March. But let's worry about tomorrow first.

The Line-Up

Ribery is still out. The Frenchman has resumed running and individual drills, but hasn't participated in a full practice yet, and will be held back. Additionally, Jupp Heynckes has promised some rotation, with Mueller, Mandzukic and Lahm all not making the trip. Sounds like a wise plan (I'd almost want to give Kroos a rest, too, bust I guess then we'd have nobody left to play forward).

Here's my guess:

Gomez

Shaqiri - Kroos - Robben

Martinez - Schweinsteiger

Alaba - Dante - Boateng - Rafinha

Neuer

Contento and Pizarro might also figure. I was hoping Emre Can could start getting some action now that we have such a huge lead, but he's still not over his earlier illness.

The Opponent

Other than the fact that I always mistakenly write "Bayern" when attempting to write "Bayer," Leverkusen is a pretty respectable opponent. Most Bayern fans don't seem to have any negative feelings towards them, despite their earlier win over us in the fall. Stefan Kießling, the tall, mop-headed striker, has been their star this year. His 16 goals are one off the league lead, and it was his strike that gave Leverkusen the lead in their 2-1 victory over Bayern (though it was Sidney Sam who netter the late winner).

Perhaps lesser known, but in my mind maybe equally important to Leverkusen, is Andre Schürrle. The German wing-slash-attacking middie doesn't have quite the goal-scoring pop that Kießling brings, but his 9 goals and 7 assists across all competitions this year have been big, and he at least keeps Leverkusen's opponents from double- and triple-marking Kießling. Surprisingly, Leverkusen get a good variety of contributions in general: even though Kießling has 16 goals, they have 3 other guys who have at least 3 goals and at least 3 assists, and even their defenders can threaten the goal (Wollscheid has 2 goals in the league and 1 in Europa). So it's not just about shutting down one guy - Bayern's defenders need to keep a tight formation, clear loose balls as quickly as possible, and, above all, not get caught flat footed staring at the ball when a Leverkusen player sets up camp in a dangerous spot.

Elsewhere in the Competition

Dortmund vs. Freiburg is a somewhat interesting match-up, though mainly from the Freiburg end (they're 1 point off a Europa League spot). But perhaps the biggest game (other than ours) is the Sunday match between Borussia Monchangladbach and Hannover 96. Both have looked, at various times this season, like they might make some interesting moves and threaten for a European spot. But both are coming off lackluster draws last week, and sit mid-table (BMG in 9th on 14 points, H96 one spot and one point behind, though with a superior goal differential). This is pretty much an elimination game for the continental hopes of both sides: the winner gets a big boost and is set up for a chance at a late season push into the top 7, while the loser starts to fade from relevance.

Final Notes

- WatsonCrick has a nice FanPost regarding squad rotation and depth, if you want to check it out.

- We have the late game Saturday, starting at 6:30 local time. Click below to check the time where you currently reside:

Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com

- I might be a bit late with the post-game recap, so if it's not up right after the match, check back Saturday night. In the meantime, Gilly will hopefully post goal .gifs in a FanShot, so check down in that right-hand corner soon after the wrap. Thanks for reading.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Bavarian Football Works

You must be a member of Bavarian Football Works to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bavarian Football Works. You should read them.

Join Bavarian Football Works

You must be a member of Bavarian Football Works to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bavarian Football Works. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9353_tracker