Bayern München has set numerous records this season already. More will perhaps fall as the German champions take on a Freiburg side which is stuck in a dilemma.
Christian Streich's motivation and tactical nous changed a contender for relegation into a contender for a Champions League spot. Freiburg impressed many by their fast transitional play and their discipline in defense throughout the season. Inconsistency crept in in the mid part of the second half of the season. However, otherwise, they have been well rewarded for their work. They sit a single point behind fourth placed Schalke and this game means a lot more to them than it does to Bayern.
The question that one has to ask about Freiburg will surprise many of you: should they intentionally not qualify for the Champions League? Freiburg's good performances has brought the vultures to town. Max Kruse has already announced that he will move to Mönchengladbach at the end of the current season. Daniel Caligiuri is heading to Wolfsburg. Jan Rosenthal is meanwhile heading to Frankfurt.
Freiburg's squad, following these departures, will simply not be able to cope with the demands of the Champions League. Also, even the current squad would not be able to compete too well perhaps as most of their game is based on discipline and the talents of Kruse. Qualifying for the Europa League meanwhile could grant the club some extra money to move forward.
It is indeed a shame to see such a hard working unit being torn apart. Freiburg played some amazing matches this season, including a 3-0 demolition job of Stuttgart. They are breathtaking on the counter attack. Against Bayern, they lost 0-2. Thomas Müller's early goal allowed Bayern to start off positively. There were a few nervy moments in the second half until Anatoliy Tymoshchuk came on and struck the killer goal with just over ten minutes remaining. Freiburg is coming into this match on the back of a loss to Stuttgart, 2-1.
The German Champions
Bayern must move forward from a historic semifinal victory over Barcelona as they have the second leg to play next week. Jupp Heynckes will be keen to avoid any injuries in this one and is sure to rotate his squad ahead of next week's decider. A few records are still up for grabs as mentioned above. The all time record of most goals scored in a single season currently stands at 101, achieved by none other than the Bayern of 1972/1973. Bayern currently has 89 goals and needs 12 goals to equal the record. However, those 12 must be scored in just four matches. The other records up for grabs are all away records.
The Bavarians have had a fantastic season away from home. They have had a great home season but not a stellar one with 12 wins, two draws and a solitary loss to their name. As far as injury news is concerned for this one, Bayern will not be able to count on Holger Badstuber and Toni Kroos. Kroos just had a knee surgery and hopes to be back for the DFB Pokal finale in June. Otherwise, Heynckes has a full squad to choose from, including Mario Mandzukic who has recovered from a hamstring problem.
For Freiburg, captain Julian Schuster is suspended due to collecting too many yellow cards in the campaign. Jan Rosenthal could be back from injury for this one. Pavel Krmas is set to remain out due to calf problems. Sebastian Freis is still in rehabilitation after getting injured in December last year.
So, who will be given a chance to impress in this one? While, I am not very good at doing this, here is a probable lineup:
Rafinha- Daniel Van Buyten- Dante- Diego Contento
Anatoliy Tymoshchuk- Emre Can
Arjen Robben- Thomas Müller- Xherdan Shaqiri
I feel Dante might not start against Barcelona in case Heynckes is eying a potential final berth. Of course, nothing is decided until the last second of the tie as Bayern has so cruelly often found out in the past. Hence, Dante might start in midweek. One of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Javier Martinez and Luiz Gustavo will not start in midweek. If one starts this match, the other two will start the other. Can nonetheless played well last week and Tymo deserves a shot on the pitch. Robben could be taken off after 45 minutes with Franck Ribery coming onto the pitch. Mandzukic is a bit short on match practice. He might get the nod in midweek; hence playing him in this one could be useful.
Finally, before signing off, congratulations are in order (or were in order two days ago) for Mario Gomez. He became Bayern's highest scorer in the Champions League with his goal against Barcelona. His tally rose to 23, eclipsing Giovane Elber's tally of 22.
As always, thanks for skimming through or reading!