Form has not been Bayern München friend in April, a month where the German champions fell from supreme to sub-par. The 11 goals in seven matches is a scoring rate far below the pace they have set for themselves throughout the season. Whatever spark previously present is no longer there, unable to light the inferno of months past.
Saturday's match against Werder Bremen could bring it back.
Although clawing their way to mid-table, the Werderaner surrender the fourth most goals in the Bundesliga, a stigma stuck to them as they have slowly slipped down the standings in recent years. Recent results have given hope to a bit of a bounce-back, but every step forward has come with a step back.
Bayern planted seven goals on Bremen back in December, the worst home lost in history in the Weserstadion, so what better way to kick-start a stagnant attack than a tune-up match in Allianz Arena
The Match (107th Meeting)
Location: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Head: Guido Winkmann
FC Bayern: 5 W, 0 D, 0 L – 9 YC, 1 Y-R
Assistants: Jan Hendrik Salver, Patrick Ittrich
Fourth Official: Stefan Trautmann
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Television and Streaming
US: GolTV, MyGermanTV +
: WDR 2, Sky Go, Sport1.FM
SV Werder Bremen (0-7) FC Bayern München | Weserstadion (Bundesliga)
FCB: Assani Lukimya (OG 21'), Daniel van Buyten (27'), Franck Ribéry (38', 82'), Mario Mandžukić (60'), Thomas Müller (68'), Mario Götze (90')
1. Gerhard "Gerd" Müller, FCB – 18
2. Dieter Hoeneß, FCB; Franck Ribéry, FCB – 9
4. Carsten Jancker, FCB – 8
5. Claudio Pizarro FCB/SVW; Wynton Rufer, SVW; Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, FCB – 7
Biggest Victory: 7-0 (August 12, 1980, Munich, Germany; December 12, 2013, Bremen, Germany)
Biggest Defeat: 2-5 (September, 20, 2008, Munich, Germany)
There is no latent agenda: Pep Guardiola has is sights firmly set on Real Madrid, for if he did not, then the questions he fielded on the Champions League would have different answers.
Just because the second leg is the focus does not mean that players have to rest. Although they were held scoreless at midweek, Bayern had more continuity than in previous weeks, something Guardiola probably does not want to change.
"We got our team-play back in Braunschweig and at Real," said Guardiola in his pre-game presser. "We need to come back there like we did for a majority of the season, that we played like a team. Back with passion like Madrid.
"I will rotate, but minimal players."
Rafinha is in the midst of a three game suspension, while Xherdan Shaqiri (thigh) and Thiago Alcântara (knee) remain out with injuries – Tom Starke (elbow) and Holger Badstuber (knee) are also out. Daniel van Buyten and Diego Contento (ankle) will talk with Guardiola about a possible team sheet return, although neither will likely start.
Pep Guardiola also revealed that Javi Martinez, who has endured long absences with groin and foot injuries, "has many injury problems." Martínez has started three consecutive Bundesliga matches, coming off the bench against Kaiserslautern and Real Madrid in between. The right approach might be to sit him at the weekend, preparing him for another appearance off the bench in the second leg.
A good shellacking could best prepare Bayern for the all-important second leg, giving the home fans tangible hope for a comeback against Real Madrid.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1)
Franck Ribéry – Mario Götze – Arjen Robben
The motivation for Werder Bremen is easy at this point in the season: get a point to ensure their Bundesliga survival. Four points in three matches against top-half sides have lifted the Grün-Weißer back into the mid-table.
That being said, the style in which Robin Dutt has organized his team has not changed. A four-man midfield has left a suitable back four vulnerable, unable to consistently hold onto the ball. They are also the most undisciplined defending team in the Bundesliga, already penalized with 69 yellow cards and 3 red cards on the season.
Dutt has not found a suitable replacement for the dynamic Kevin de Bruyne, mixing a combination of Franco Di Santo, Eljero Elia, and Nils Petersen in attack. All three played in the Bayern steamroll in December, but the trio mustered just three shots. The 11.1 shots per game is second worst in the Bundesliga, and the chances they do get do not often result in goals.
Ludovic Obraniak could add some depth in attacking midfield, but he remains questionable with a left calf strain. That leaves former Bayern reserve Mehmet Ekici and Aaron Hunt as the only forward options
This is not a formidable side by any means, and their struggle in Munich is predetermined.
Projected Lineup (4-1-2-1-2)
Franco Di Santo – Eljero Elia
Cedrick Makiadi – Zlatko Junuzovic
Santiago Garcia – Sebastian Prödl – Luca Caldirola – Theodor Gebre Selassie
Bench: Sebastian Mielitz, Assani Lukimya, Lukas Schmitz, Aleksandar Ignjovski, Felix Kroos, Mehmet Ekici, Nils Petersen
To give an idea of their inconsistency, Werder Bremen has won back-to-back matches just twice, mostly involving bottom of the table sides. Bayern will have space to roam unlike before, and the personnel will once again determine the amount of goals scored. Bremen has collected just once score in the past two seasons, and the man who scored it, de Bruyne, is no longer at the club. How well Bayern plays could determine how the second leg of the Champions League goes.