In its sixth year, the Telekom Cup may just be a glorified promotional event for T-mobile, but hit has turned into a staple of Bayern Munich's preseason. They have participated five times and have won once, but it is a good way for both managers and fans to see the state Bayern's squad is in.
With the World Cup ending just two weeks ago, many star players will be absent from all four participating clubs. Nevertheless, it will be an action-packed weekend with goals worth waiting for.
The tournament is two games for each team over two days. The matches are 60 minute friendlies. The winners go on to the final and the losers go to play in a third-place match.
12:00 PM EDT – Hamburger SV vs. VfL Wolfsburg
2:00 PM EDT – Bayern München vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach
10:30 PM EDT – Third-Place Match
12:15 PM EDT – Final
The Telekom Cup will be a chance for the public to evaluate the progress of Franck Ribery, who the club reported will travel to Hamburg with the team. Having missed the chance to suit up for France in the World Cup, Ribéry is still progressing from his back injury, and Guardiola may limit his action this weekend.
"He’s in good shape," Guardiola told the club website. "I think he’ll be able to get a few minutes under his belt."
Javi Martínez, who is the first Bayern player to partake in preseason training, is also set to participate, as is recently injured Sebastian Rode (ankle) and Claudio Pizarro (calf). Julian Green and Xherdan Shaqiri rejoined the team on Thursday, but there is no word yet whether the two will suit up just yet.
The new revelation that has surfaced in the preseason is Guardiola's utilization of a back-three. Holger Badstuber, returning from his knee troubles over the past two seasons, has played as a sweeper, with Diego Contento, David Alaba and Rafinha taking turns flanking him on either side. Whether that is a full tactical shift or a result from the lack of personnel is still uncertain, for Jerome Boateng and Dante are still on their post World Cup vacation. Martínez's return might pop the thought bubbles of many who have monitored the preseason.
With so many absences due to the World Cup, a significant amount of youth players will get to play in the side once again. The reserve match this weekend will remove options in previous friendlies, but youngsters such as Lukas Scholl and Giancula Gaudino should still get a shot to play.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1):
Franck Ribéry – Lukas Scholl – Claudio Pizarro
David Alaba – Pierre-Emile Højbjerg
Juan Bernat – Javi Martínez – Holger Badstuber – Rafinha
Bench: Ivan Lucic, Diego Contento, Sebastian Rode, Philipp Walter, Patrick Weihrauch, Giancula Gaudino, Michael Eberwein
The Fohlen will get to showcase half of their investments from the transfer window, both André Hahn and Ibrahim Traoré expected to play this weekend. Manager Lucien Farve has stuck with his 4-4-2 formation in the preseason, occasionally putting loanee Thorgan Hazard next to Max Kruse. Fabian Johnson, Yan Sommer, and Granit Xhaka just resumed training this week, so they will probably not be available. Mönchengladbach made it to the final a year ago, and they will probably be a tougher opponent for Bayern this time around.
M'Gladbach XI (4-4-2): Christofer Heimeroth – Julian Korb, Tony Janschke, Alvaro Dominguez, Oscar Wendt – André Hahn, Mamoud Dahoud, Hårvard Nordtveit, Ibrahim Traoré – Max Kruse, Raffael
The biggest advantage Wolfsburg has is that a good number of their World Cup players – Vieirinha, Ivan Perisic, and Ivica Olic – have played in a friendly. Their team has a little more depth with the additions of Sebastian Jung and Aaron Hunt, and Dieter Hecking can interchange many of his parts over the course of the two days. Even without Kevin de Bruyne, Luiz Gustavo, and Ricardo Rodriguez, Wolfsburg have recorded many encouraging results in their preseason, although a 1-3 loss to VfL Bochum does not look too good. They will likely make it to the final, which means Bayern could have a preview of their Bundesliga opener.
Wolfsburg XI (4-2-3-1): Max Grün – Sebastian Jung, Naldo, Timm Klose, Marcel Schäfer – Junior Malanda, Slobodan Medojevic – Maximillian Arnold, Aaron Hunt, Daniel Caligiuri – Ivica Olic
Thus far, Hamburg's offseason has consisted of reacquiring their loanees and retaining the hero that rescued them from the abyss, Pierre-Michel Lasogga. The only way they have addressed their defense is by putting holding midfielders Petr Jiráček, Gideon Jung, and Matti Steinmann in the back. Johan Djourou has already returned, but he and Jonathan Tah are going to have their hands full with Wolfsburg's prowess in attacking midfield. The only upside they will have in the Telekom Cup is that the tournament is in their house; beside that, they will have a lot to prove.
Hamburg XI (4-2-3-1): Alexander Brunst-Zöllner – Dennis Diekmeier, Johan Djourou, Jonathan Glao Tah, Marcell Jansen – Gojko Kačar, Tolgay Arslan – Jacques Zoua, Rafael van der Vaart – Pierre-Michel Lasogga
Bayern München (2-1) Borussia Mönchengladbach
Bayern will control most of the match, and the Fohlen will try to fly into the space behind. Having Alaba in midfield will snuff out the counterattack, and Højbjerg and Scholl will combine to give Ribéry, Lewandowski and Pizarro a good chance or two.
Hamburger SV (0-3) VfL Wolfsburg
Having holding midfielders in defense will work for most of the game, but eventually Caligiuri, Hunt, Arnold, and Olic will find a way to use their inexperience against them. Lasogga will give Naldo a good fight, but the midfield behind him will probably not be able to complete the final pass.
Third Place Match
Hamburger SV (0-2) Borussia Mönchengladbach
Even with just two of them, the central midfielders for Mönchengladbach will find a way to keep possession. Hahn will give Jansen a workout, and Kruse will beat Djourou at least once.
Bayern München (3-0) VfL Wolfsburg
With less time to work, Martínez will come up with a big tackle more than once to help Starke keep a clean sheet. A back three will be enough to hold Wolfsburg while Rode and Bernat provide support on the flanks.