In the light of the Herbsmeister-defining result against Augsburg, getting up for a match of this nature can be extremely difficult. Bayern Munich are beginning to wind down their Hinrunde, and this fixture is rank with "senioritis."
How fitting that this trap game comes against SC Freiburg, the club that was able to sneak in an equalizer to snatch points from the Rekordmeister before their date with Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup. That result is extremely unlikely to happen in Allianz Arena, where Bayern have dropped points just twice in their last 33 matches.
The Bayern fanatics in the crowd will be singing for a Weihnachts present in the last home match before the Winterpause, while the players are looking to remain the only unbeaten team in Europe's top-5 leagues.
The Match (32nd Meeting)
Location: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Head: Dr. Jochen Drees
FC Bayern: 9 W, 3 D, 1 L – 15 YC, 1 RC
Assistants: Norbert Grudzinski, Christian Gittelmann
Fourth Official: Holger Henschel
Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com
Television and Streaming:
UK: BT Sport 2
Germany: Sky Bundesliga 2 | HD, Sky Go
FC Bayern: WWWWL
SC Freiburg: DDLDW
Bundesliga: 21 W, 6 D, 3 L
DFB Pokal: 1 W, 0 D, 0 L
Largest Victory: 7-0 (DFB-Pokal: March 2, 2005, Freiburg; Bundesliga: September 10, 2011, Munich)
Largest Defeat: 1-5 (Bundesliga: August 23, 1994, Freiburg)
With Bayern firing on all cylinders right now, it feels like Pep Guardiola could field anyone on Tuesday and they would get the result they needed. After all, the second-year manager has fielded lineups with several different complexions – a back-three, a four-man attacking midfield, a two-man front, midfielders acting as fullbacks, fullbacks acting as midfielders – and in the end Bayern have come away with points. That does not mean Guardiola's task will be an easy one.
Bayern's match against Hamburg is the cautionary tale of what happens when a manager over-rotates. Guardiola elected to sit Xabi Alonso, Robert Lewandowski, and Mario Götze, three spark plugs that were integral to their recent run of form, and Bayern could not rekindle enough when the trio came on late in the match. A draw in Hamburg is not the end of the world given their current 9-point advantage, but after beating the Bundesliga's best (Leverkusen, Augsburg, and Wolfsburg to name a few), a point from a Hamburg fixture is like a dribble of hollandaise sauce on a tuxedo.
This time around, some of the players Guardiola may call upon have received opportunities to find their form. Putting Pierre-Emile Højbjerg or Gianluca Gaudino on the lineup card will not be jarring for the teenagers, for each have recent Champions League experience to build from. Guardiola may need to call on a few squad players as it is, especially with Xabi Alonso questionable with a cold. Sebastian Rode would be the first replacement to come, but he suffered a foot bruise against Augsburg, although Guardiola revealed that the injury should not be a big deal.
No matter who plays, Bayern's infrastructure can overcome their opponent on its own. The spine of the team – from a rock-solid defense to a shifty attack – has powered them through this six-match winning streak, to the point where their flank play has almost been superfluous. Even if Guardiola rests a Lewandowski or a Ribéry, the attack is still one of the most formidable in Europe, and their ability to take advantage of space will leave even a conservative Freiburg defense in ruins.
This will be Guardiola's 50th Bundesliga match as manager, and he will put out a team that he think can get him the win he needs to celebrate.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1):
Franck Ribéry – Mario Götze – Arjen Robben
Bastian Schweinsteiger – Sebastian Rode
Juan Bernat – Dante – Mehdi Benatia – Rafinha
Bench: Pepe Reina, Jérôme Boateng, Mitchell Weiser, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Xherdan Shaqiri, Claudio Pizarro, Robert Lewandowski
Out/Suspended: David Alaba (knee), Thiago Alcântara (knee), Holger Badstuber (thigh), Philipp Lahm (ankle), Javi Martínez (knee), Tom Starke (ankle)
A small club like Freiburg, there will inevitably be teams trying to poach the talent away. Clubs farther up the table have been able to weather some of the high turnover of their top players, but Freiburg this season have been sucked dry of the talent that made them a fearful mid-table team.
Over the past four seasons, clubs have poached four key academy talents – Oliver Baumann, Daniel Caligiuri, Matthias Ginter, and Ömer Toprak – and several other frugal acquisitions important to their success – Demba Papis Cissé, Fallou Digne, Gelson Fernandes, and Max Kruse. As a result, Christian Streich's side is paper-thin, to the point where adding Sascha Riether on a free transfer is a major squad transaction.
With limited resources, Streich has created a tactically conservative side whose main purpose is to stay in games. It may be a good skill to have, especially when trying to take advantage of a Schalke 04 side in flux at home, but half of Freiburg's lead-leading eight draws have come as a result of equalizers in the 80th minute or later. Streich can do what he can to allow his club to keep pace with its opponent, but ultimately he is handcuffed to the second-tier talent that Freiburg can afford.
To make matters worse, Vladimír Darida (ribs) and Jonathan Schmid (knee) will not make the trip down to Munich, leaving Streich to possibly rely on joint-leading goalscorer Riether in midfield. Fortunately, Stefan Mitrović will return, although he only has appeared in five matches thus far.
Streich knows his side has a very low chance of winning, so once again he will use his tactical acumen to try to keep his side in the match.
Projected Lineup (4-4-2):
Admir Mehmedi, Karim Guédé
Felix Klaus – Julian Schuster – Nicolas Höfler – Sascha Riether
Christian Günter – Marc-Oliver Kempf – Marc Torrejón – Oliver Sorg
Bench: Sebastian Mielitz, Stefan Mitrović, Pavel Krmas, Mensur Mujdza, Sebastian Kerk, Dani Schahin, Sebastian Fries
Out/Suspended: Vladimír Darida (ribs), Mike Franz (leg), Maximilian Philipp (muscle tear), Jonathan Schmid (knee), Caleb Stanko (knee), Philipp Zulechner (illness)
In order to achieve the inevitable, the two teams have to play the 90 minutes. Perhaps in another circumstance, complacency might play a factor in Bayern's performance, but the players will get up for the final home match of the season. Freiburg can bunker in all they want, but eventually Bayern will find the Trojan horse to reek havoc in the final third.
Projected Score: Bayern Munich (4-0) SC Freiburg
The Other Matches
Hannover 96 vs. Augsburg (Tuesday, 2:00 PM EST)
Hamburger SV vs. Stuttgart (Tuesday, 2:00 PM EST)
Köln vs. Mainz 05 (Tuesday, 2:00 PM EST)
Borussia Dortmund vs. Wolfsburg (Wednesday, 2:00 PM EST)
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Werder Bremen (Wednesday, 2:00 PM EST)
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim vs. Bayer Leverkusen (Wednesday, 2:00 PM EST)
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Hertha Berlin (Wednesday, 2:00 PM EST)
SC Paderborn 07 vs. Schalke 04 (Wednesday, 2:00 PM EST)
Eintracht Braunschweig vs. Fortuna Düsseldorf (Tuesday, 11:30 PM EST)
|Bayer 04 Leverkusen||6||6||3||26||19||+7||24|
|FC Schalke 04||7||2||6||26||20||+6||23|
|TSG 1899 Hoffenheim||6||5||4||24||24||0||23|
|SC Paderborn 07||4||6||5||20||24||-4||18|
|1. FC Köln||5||3||7||16||21||-5||18|
|1. FSV Mainz 05||3||8||4||18||21||-3||17|
|Hertha Berliner SC||5||2||8||20||26||-6||17|
|SV Werder Bremen||3||5||7||23||34||-11||14|