Flash back four and a half months, three days before FC Bayern München was to match up with Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup. The Rekordmeister needed to travel due west to play a pre-scheduled match against Europa League surprise SC Freiburg before traveling south to the Czech Republic.
FC Bayern manager Pep Guardiola elected to sit five regulars – Alaba, Boateng, Mandzukic, Robben, and Ribéry – to throw the kitchen sink at his former nemesis, Jose Mourinho. After a lackluster 85 minutes from the defending champions, Nicolas Höfler equalized for Freiburg, making a mere draw seem like a deflating loss.
After the drama that followed, the dropped two points have minimal impact on what looks like a consecutive Bundesliga title for the Stern des Südens.
Now FC Bayern are faced with a similar scenario. The club will take on SC Freiburg, out of the Europa League after the group stage, four days before another UEFA match. The biggest difference this time? The match will be on home turf.
Guardiola will now have to make a choice: put out a weaker side as before, bargaining a few points for a full arsenal (get it?) of players for the Champions League, or field a full-fledged side, avenging FC Bayern's misfortune in Freiburg.
The Match (31st Meeting)
Location: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Head: Guido Winkmann
FC Bayern: 4 W, 0 D, 0 L – 6 YC, 1 Y-R
Assistants: Christian Bandurski, Guido Kleve
Fourth Official: Dr. Jochen Drees Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com
Television and Streaming
US: GolTV USA, MyGermanTV +
Germany: Sky Bundesliga 1 | HD
FC Bayern: WWWWW
SC Freiburg: DLWLW
Meetings in 2013/14
D, 1-1 (FCB: Shaqiri 33' / SCF: Höfler 86')
Bundesliga: 20 W, 6 D, 3 L
DFB Pokal: 1 W, 0 L
1. Mario Gómez, FCB – 6
2. Carsten Jancker, FCB; Claudio Pizarro, FCB, Roy Makaay, FCB – 4
5. Giovane Elber, FCB; Jürgen Klinsmann, FCB; Franck Ribéry, FCB, Mehmet Scholl, FCB, Uwe Wassmer, SCF – 3
Biggest Victory: 7-0 (Bundesliga: September 10, 2011, Munich, Germany; DFB Pokal: March 2, 2005, Freiburg, Germany)
Biggest Defeat: 1-5 (August 23, 1994, Freiburg, Germany)
With so many matches in a short amount of time, it would not be a revelation for Guardiola to rest some regulars. However, that might not be an option.
Collecting a yellow card against 1. FC Nürnburg, Mario Mandzukic will have to watch from the stands with a yellow card suspension. Daniel van Buyten is still not fit enough, and Guardiola revealed that Pierre-Emile Højbjerg is having "slight pain."
Mandzukic's absence could be another opportunity for Claudio Pizarro to start. The Peruvian's last start came against Hannover 96 in the DFB Pokal last September, and his last league start came against SC Freiburg during the Hinrunde.
With Arjen Robben back at full fitness, Guardiola will have to find an effective way to get Mario Götze, Thomas Müller, Robben and Xherdan Shaqiri pitch time. With one less mouth to feed, three of those players can play on the pitch at the same time. Müller can get another start up top as well, for he has already started four matches there.
Bastian Schweinsteiger will likely start with a pinny on the bench, despite his triumphant return at midweek. On whether it was too early for the vice captain to make a start, Guardiola said, "Oh I think so, still a little too soon."
With the 1-1 draw in the back of their minds, the FC Bayern players will hopefully have a stronger mindset going into this match.
Projected Lineup (4-1-4-1)
Götze – Kroos – Thiago – Robben
Alaba – Dante – Boateng – Rafinha
Bench: Starke, Contento, Martínez, Schweinsteiger, Shaqiri, Weiser, Pizarro
Crashing out of the Europa League might have been the best thing to happen to SC Freiburg. Without the extra workload, the club's head has resurfaced above the relegation zone, despite playing three teams in the top half of the table.
Manager Christian Streich has his club playing with belief, the players putting everything they have on the pitch. Last week the players may have pushed a little too hard, allowing TSG 1899 Hoffenheim Anthony Modeste to equalize late in the match. They are putting teams under pressure in all aspects of the game, and their relentlessness has gotten the Rückrunde off to a good start.
Admir Mehmedi has filled in nicely for the injured Sebastian Fries, with Vladimir Darida getting more of a look from Streich in behind. The player with the biggest boom since the restart of the Bundesliga is Jonathan Schmid, who has two goals in three games.
The defense has been porous all season, but much better with Matthias Ginter as a holding midfielder rather than a central defender. Ginter played in the pivot against FC Bayern in August, and it would be a good bet for Streich to do so again.
A motivated young team facing relegation is always dangerous.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1)
Klaus – Darida – Schmid
Fernandes – Ginter
Sorg – Höhn – Krmaš – Mujdža
Bench: Schwolow, Günter, Diagne, Schuster, Coquelin, Zulechner, Hanke
Guardiola brought up VfB Stuttgart in his pre-match press conference, a team that pushed FC Bayern to the brink two and a half weeks ago. SC Freiburg will likely provide a similar task for the Rekordmeister, not providing any wiggle room to work with. The match being at home increases the likelihood of a victory, but it will not come easy.
Projected Score: FC Bayern München 2-0 SC Freiburg
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