The Allianz Arena is a fortress, the curved walls encasing Bayern Munich's dominance and bunkering outside forces. The club has once again ravaged any team that has come to the stadium's battlefield, but the success has not translated when they go on the road.
All but two of Bayern's dropped points this season have come on the road, and some of the victories away from home were not convincing either. Some of their performances have elicited the same feelings one gets when forgetting to wear a watch one day. Teams are expected to present worse showings on the road, but the perfection of Bayern over the past two seasons raised some eyebrows at some underwhelming efforts.
Their trip to Paderborn will not be easy either. Although the recently promoted club is struggling to sustain their place in the Bundesliga, their grind against Hannover 96 proved that they can still get the necessary results. The match is sandwiched between two midweek matches, which presents a trap-game situation for the mighty club in red.
The Match (3rd Meeting)
Location: Benteler-Arena, Paderborn, Germany
Head: Bastian Dankert
FC Bayern: 3 W, 1 D, 0 L – 7 YC
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Bayern Munich (4-0) SC Paderborn 07 | Bundesliga (Allianz Arena)
FCB: Mario Götze (8’, 78'), Lewandowski (14’), Thomas Müller (85')
Paderborn This Season
Paderborn This Season
Bundesliga: 1 W, 0 D, 0 L
DFB Pokal: 1 W, 0 D, 0 L
Largest Victory: 5-1 (DFB-Pokal: August 27, 2001, Paderborn)
Throughout his career at Bayern, Pep Guardiola received fortunate squad injuries, the word fortunate referring to the squad decisions he did not have to make. That luck has run out in 2015, with fullback injuries unbalancing his squad and midfield personnel not fitting together the way he had hoped.
The personification of this new wrinkle is Xabi Alonso, once the player that Bayern could rely on in midfield but now slowly evolving into a liability. The dream combination of him and Schweinsteiger has not worked in the way many had hoped it would, and trying to factor David Alaba into the mix is making more of a tactical mess. Guardiola has also tried to squeeze as many of his attacking players on the field, a formula that might work against a conservative side like Paderborn but one that struggles to build up the play.
Guardiola's emphasis on the midfield will never change, but his experiments with one center back were largely unsuccessful. Part of that is due to more fitness issues, but the manager will now have Holger Badstuber, if not Medhi Benatia, to fill the vacuum in defense. Just having one of those players in the side will take the onus off of Alaba or Schweinsteiger in midfield, allowing them to build up the play and contribute to attack.
Bayern do face Eintracht Braunschweig at midweek, but Bayern do not have many rotation options for Guardiola to exploit at the moment.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1):
Franck Ribéry – Thomas Müller – Arjen Robben
David Alaba – Bastian Schweinsteiger
Juan Bernat – Holger Badstuber – Jérôme Boateng – Mitchell Weiser
Bench: Pepe Reina, Dante, Rafinha, Xabi Alonso, Sebastian Rode, Mario Götze, Claudio Pizarro
Out/Suspended: Gianluco Gaudino (illness), Philipp Lahm (ankle), Javi Martínez (knee), Thiago Alcântara (knee)
Cinderella's chariot is starting to turn into a pumpkin, and Paderborn are trying to get home before they get trapped in the relegation zone before midnight. Their win in Hannover at the weekend was their first of 2015. Once in the mid-table, they are now staring relegation in the face.
Paderborn's saving grace is their ability to grind out matches, though their defense has not been solid as it once was. Nonetheless, when they get knocked down they have found a way to get back up this season.
Manager André Breitenreiter has maintained a conservative philosophy, one which a 44.2 percent average possession numerates. Paderborn throws the ball forward when they win the ball, and though they are not a counterattacking team, their ability in the air creates the chances and breakthroughs they need. He has rotated his squad at automobile engine speed, one that has partly compromised cohesion when trying to go forward.
Paderborn are about to undertake a very difficult three-match stretch, and how they are able to beat the count-out will set the tone for their survival bid.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1):
Alban Meha – Mario Vrančić – Süleyman Koc
Marvin Bakalorz – Lukas Rupp
Daniel Brückner – Uwe Hünemeier – Rafa López – Jens Wemmer
Bench: Daniel Lück, Florian Hatherz, Michael Heinloth, Marc Vucinović, Moritz Stoppelkamp, Stefan Kutschke, Srdjan Lakić
Out/Suspended: Fin Bartels (heel)
Despite beating Paderborn 4-0 earlier this season, this is a club Bayern cannot take for granted. Their focuses might be elsewhere, but the players have rebounded decently well from unsatisfactory performances. The Rekordmeister will get the result they need, but it will not be the dominant destruction of Hamburg.
Projected Score: SC Paderborn 07 (0-2) Bayern Munich
The Other Action
Borussia Dortmund vs. VfB Stuttgart (Friday, 2:30 PM ET)
FC Schalke 04 vs. SV Werder Bremen (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
1. FSV Mainz 05 vs. Eintracht Frankfurt (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
FC Augsburg vs. Bayer 04 Leverkusen (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
SC Freiburg vs. TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
1. FC Köln vs. Hannover 96 (Saturday, 12:30 PM ET)
Hamburger SV vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (Sunday, 9:30 AM ET)
VfL Wolfsburg vs. Hertha Berliner SC (Sunday, 11:30 AM ET)
Eintracht Braunschweig vs. Rasen Ballsport Leipzig (Monday, 2:15 PM ET)
|FC Schalke 04||10||4||7||31||23||+8||34|
|Bayer 04 Leverkusen||8||8||5||34||27||+7||32|
|TSG 1899 Hoffenheim||8||5||8||33||34||-1||29|
|SV Werder Bremen||8||5||8||35||43||-8||29|
|1. FC Köln||6||6||9||19||24||-5||24|
|SC Paderborn 07||5||8||8||23||35||-12||23|
|1. FSV Mainz 05||4||10||7||27||30||-3||22|
|Hertha Berliner SC||6||3||12||26||40||-14||21|