With just four dropped point to their name, Bayern Munich cruise into this Weekend's Matchup at the base of what will be a very steep hill.
The defending German champions have a stretch where they have a date with the Borussias (Mönchengladbach and Dortmund), a double-pack with Serie A steam engine AS Roma, and a win-or-go home match against Hamburg. A match against Bremen seems like a cupcake amongst vegetables, but could this be a trap game?
Bayern has not lost to Bremen since 2008, outscoring the Grün-Weißer 33 to 9 over the past five years in the Bundesliga. With Bremen still searching for their first victory, Bayern will be heavily favored in this tilt as well, but complacency on the team sheet could leave them vulnerable.
The Match (108th Meeting)
Location: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Head: Bastian Dankert
Assistants: Christoph Bornhorst, René Rohde
Fourth Official: Robert Kampka
Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com
Television and Streaming:
US: GolTV, MyGermanTV+
Germany: Sky Bundesliga 3 | HD, Sky Go
FC Bayern: WWWWD
Bundesliga: 45 W, 25 D, 26 L
DFB Pokal: 5 W, 1 D, 0 L
DFL Supercup: 0 W, 0 D, 1 L
Ligapokal: 3 W, 1 D, 0 L
Largest Victory: 7-0 (August 12, 1980, Munich, Germany; December 12, 2013, Bremen, Germany)
Largest Defeat: 2-5 (September, 20, 2008, Munich, Germany)
With the tough stretch ahead, Pep Guardiola's ever-changing team sheet will likely have another different dimension to it. All the tinkering he has done this season have produced the results that Bayern need, but at what point is he getting too cute?
The last time Guardiola put in an "A- squad", the attack could not muster a breakthrough against nearly-relegated Hamburg SV. Doing so again could result in more dropped points, but squad rotation is necessary for any club faced with the three-front battle Bayern is. Xherdan Shaqiri and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg have both voiced displeasure with playing time, and if now is not the time to get it, when is it?
What could help balance Bayern's power with its prospects is the return of Franck Ribéry. The Frenchman has resumed full team activities, and he could feature for just the second time this season. Arjen Robben's might will still be necessary, but other players returning from Euro qualification – Mario Götze, Thomas Müller, and Robert Lewandowski – could receive a breather.
Whatever the team sheet ends up being, it will still be in a different class from what Werder Bremen can field at the moment.
Projected Lineup (4-3-3):
Xherdan Shaqiri – Robert Lewandowski – Arjen Robben
David Alaba – Xabi Alonso – Sebastian Rode
Juan Bernat – Dante – Jérôme Boateng – Philipp Lahm
Bench: Tom Starke, Mehdi Benatia, Rafinha, Mario Götze, Franck Ribéry, Thomas Müller, Claudio Pizarro
Boy, it must be tough to root for Werder Bremen at the moment.
The team's painfully steady decline has continued into their 2014/15 Bundesliga campaign, where they sit at the bottom of the table. A few remarkable comebacks against top teams is the only consolation they have for not having a victory on the season.
The squad Robin Dutt has assembled is static, slow, and unexciting. Their pass percentage is the worst in the Bundesliga, which has hampered any consistent build-up play. Franco di Santo has been the only bright spot, scoring four goals in seven matches, but his contributions have still been few and far between.
The one thing they have going for them is their aerial prowess. Bremen's opponents have not beaten Assani Lukimya and Sebastian Prödl in the air many times, which makes the duo guard towers on set pieces. The two are not the most dynamic defenders, though, and are beaten badly when pulled out of position.
They will be hard-pressed to beat Bayern on the road, so the best they can do is tuck in and keep the game close.
Projected Lineup (4-4-2):
Franco di Santo – Eljero Elia
Zlatko Junuzović – Alejandro Galvez – Cedrick Makiadi – Fin Bartels
Santiago Garcia – Assani Lukimya – Sebastian Prödl – Marnon Busch
Bench: Raif Husic, Luca Caldirola, Clemens Fritz, Izet Hajrović, Felix Kroos, Davie Selke, Nils Petersen
Bayern have not conceded a goal in 658 minutes, so a defensive disaster would need to happen for that to occur again. Bremen will bunker as much as they can, but eventually Bayern's dynamism will find a way through. This is another match that could break open, which would be a pleasant site before going into the wheel fixtures of the Champions League.