The international breaks this season have not been to friendly to Bayern, but the matches before the international break surely have.
Bayern have gotten to play all three of these matches at home – previously against Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund – and they have given their crowd a good show. Both of the results in their two previous before-break matches were statement wins, resulting from the high-powered momentum from the weeks before.
Now they take on VfB Stuttgart, a longtime rival from the Oberliga Süd days of German football. Stuttgart has been a favorable fixture for Bayern in recent years, and their relegation prospects make them a tasty opponent once again. A victory against Stuttgart may not be a big result, but it will nonetheless be a great sendoff for Bayern's international stars.
The Match (135th Meeting)
Location: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Head: Bastian Dankert
FC Bayern: 6 W, 1 D, 0 L – 10 YC, 1 RC
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Bundesliga: 60 W, 19 D, 17 L
DFB Pokal: 9 W, 0 D, 1 L
Ligapokal: 3 W, 1 L
Largest Victory: 6-1 (Bundesliga: September 9, 2012, Munich, Germany)
Largest Defeat: 0-3 (Bundesliga: April 4, 1968, Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion, Stuttgart, Germany; March 15, 1969, Stuttgart, Germany; November 14, 1987, Stuttgart, Germany; DFB Pokal: November 9, 1989, Stuttgart, Germany)
Though they struggled to keep their momentum going in October, Bayern showed in their return to the Allianz Arena at midweek there is no place like home. Only one of their matches this season in the Allianz Arena had a victorious goal differential less than three goals, and that was the one against their neighborhood adversaries Augsburg.
To spice up matters even more, Pep Guardiola faces a legitimate squad selection dilemma, something Bayern has probably dreamed to provide him since he took over two and a half years ago. Only at Bayern could Arjen Robben and Arturo Vidal come on as substitutes and nobody question Guardiola with José-Mourinho-like fervor.
Robben should get another nod as he continues his form progression after missing a month due to injury, though it will be hard for Guardiola to see his exuberant young Kingsley Coman on the bench. Vidal and Joshua Kimmich also provide Guardiola with a good tactical alternative, and their respective defensive presences will give Bayern the lion's share of possession once again. Douglas Costa could also get rotated out, but the bench would probably vibrate with all of his pent-up energy.
Medhi Benatia could also be in line to pick up his first start since his injury, an aerial presence Bayern have lacked in central defense in recent weeks. Guardiola has several center back alternatives now too, and that may include one Holger Badstuber, who made the team sheet at midweek. Stuttgart will not be able to play with much width either, which could mean David Alaba and Philipp Lahm have more of a central midfield presence than one on the flanks.
Bayern's approach to the Bundesliga has remained pretty consistent no matter who they play, and the home crowd will push them back to their winning ways domestically.
Projected Lineup (4-1-4-1):
Douglas Costa – Arturo Vidal – Thomas Müller – Arjen Robben
David Alaba – Jérôme Boateng – Medhi Benatia – Philipp Lahm
Bench: Sven Ulreich, Holger Badstuber, Javi Martínez, Rafinha, Xabi Alonso Thiago Alcântara, Kingsley Coman
Out/Suspended: Juan Bernat (groin), Mario Götze (groin), Franck Ribéry (ankle), Sebastian Rode (hamstring)
The lights have not gone out in Stuttgart, but they are pretty dim. Their Bundesliga status faded over the past few years, and their record in the Bundesliga so far has put them back into the relegation picture.
What is more troubling is the players they were hoping to rely on are now on the shelf with knee injuries: Daniel Ginczek and Martin Harnik. Daniel Didavi is enough of a spark to light up the attack, but Stuttgart's attack is now lacking a finishing touch.
Alexander Zorninger has kept Stuttgart as organized as he can, hence why he has not been canned after Stuttgart's poor start. Having Geoffrey Serey Dié certainly helps, for he is someone who has undertaken a strong leadership presence on the pitch. A center back pair of a 19-year-old and an inexperienced top-level defender is a combination that would keep any manager up at night, and the fullback pair has not showed they are more than average fullbacks.
Stuttgart will do their best to keep Bayern out of the penalty area, including playing defender Daniel Schwaab in midfield. Their skill level is ultimately not high enough to get more than a sympathy goal.
Projected Lineup (4-4-2 Diamond):
Timo Werner – Filip Kostić
Christian Gentler – Geoffrey Serey Dié
Emiliano Insua – Timo Baumgartl – Toni Sunjić – Florian Klein
Bench: Odysseus Vlachodimos, Philip Heise, Adam Hloušek, Carlos Gruezo, Mart Ristl, Alexandru Maxim, Jan Kliment
Out/Suspended: Daniel Ginczek (knee), Martin Harnik (knee), Robbie Kruse, Mitchell Langerak (knee)
Bayern has played down to a few opponents this season, but most of those performances have happened away from home. High quality and a home crowd are two ingredients to a dominant recipe, and the one-on-one abilities of Douglas and Robben will be way too much for Insua and Klein to handle. Tyton has fished a lot of goals out of his own net this season, and his back may hurt from bending down so much after playing in the Allianz.
The Other Action
Hannover vs. Hertha Berliner SC (Friday, 2:30 PM ET)
Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs. 1. FC Köln (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. FC Ingolstadt 04 (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim vs. Eintracht Frankfurt (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
1. FSV Mainz 05 vs. VfL Wolfsburg (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
Borussia Dortmund vs. FC Schalke 04 (Sunday, 9:30 AM ET)
FC Augsburg vs. Werder Bremen (Sunday, 11:30 AM ET)
UEFA Champions League Opponents
Olympiacos vs. Iraklis (14:00 AM ET)
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Istra 1961 (Sunday, 9:00 AM ET)
Arsenal vs. Tottenham (Sunday, 11:00 AM ET)
SV Darmstadt 98 vs. Hamburger SV (Saturday, 12:30 PM ET)
|FC Schalke 04||6||2||3||14||13||+1||20|
|Hertha Berliner SC||5||2||4||14||14||0||17|
|Bayer 04 Leverkusen||5||2||4||13||14||-1||17|
|FC Ingolstadt 04||4||3||4||7||9||-2||15|
|1. FC Köln||4||3||4||13||17||-4||15|
|1. FSV Mainz 05||4||1||6||16||19||-3||13|
|SV Darmstadt 98||3||4||4||12||15||-3||13|
|SV Werder Bremen||3||1||7||11||18||-7||10|
|TSG 1899 Hoffenheim||1||4||6||12||19||-7||7|