As one would expect from a team that has not been relegated for nearly half a century, Bayern Munich does not play second tier sides very often. The DFB-Pokal is the only opportunity for them to do so, but even then the Rekordmeister has had to dispatch of the Bundesliga sides instead.
Eintracht Braunschweig is just the sixth 2. Bundesliga team Bayern will face in the past four-and-a-half seasons. The one second-tier opponent that gave them trouble is VfL Bochum, but that was not in the friendly confines of Allianz Arena. The last three 2. Bundesliga opponents who have come to Munich got dispatched with ease, Bayern outscoring their second-tier opponents 15-1 in three matches.
Braunschweig was able to contain Bayern to some degree last season, although they did not counter any jabs the German Champions laid on them. With the departure of some key players, Thorsten Lieberknecht will have to bunker up again in order to have any chance against a Bayern team playing in high form.
The Match (44th Meeting)
Location: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Head: Dr. Jochen Drees
FC Bayern: 10 W, 3 D, 1 L – 16 YC, 1 RC
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Television and Streaming:
US: ESPN Deportes, ESPN 3
UK: BT Sport 2
Germany: TeleClub Sport Live, Sky Go
FC Bayern: WWDWW
Bundesliga: 22 W, 11 D, 5 L
DFB Pokal: 3 W, 1 D, 1 L
Largest Victory: 6-0 (Bundesliga: February 25, 1984, Munich)
Largest Defeat: 2-5 (Bundesliga: April 15, 1967, Braunschweig)
This is the point of the season where it is perhaps the most fun to watch Bayern, even if the opponents are not the elite ones Bayern will eventually have to beat. The 18 goals they have scored in the last three Bundesliga matches have put every Bundesliga club on high alert.
Their success will not stop Pep Guardiola from tactical refrain; after all, he respects the single-elimination nature of the DFB-Pokal too much to not take it seriously. He knows his side will have to attack a small area and defend a big one, and the usual way he goes about it may not work.
Guardiola likes to one-up his opponents in all area of the fields he can – hence why he put five attackers on the field against Köln's back-four. However, with a team that will put as many players behind the ball as possible, the numbers game will not be enough. Bayern will need players able to move in tight areas, as well as ones that can defend large areas.
Bayern can outclass Braunschweig with their talent alone, but as with many results in 2015, it will all depend on if they are up for the occasion.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1):
Franck Ribéry – Thomas Müller – Arjen Robben
David Alaba – Xabi Alonso
Juan Bernat – Dante – Jérôme Boateng – Rafinha
Bench: Pepe Reina, Holger Badstuber, Mitchell Weiser, Sebastian Rode, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Götze, Claudio Pizarro
Out/Suspended: Medhi Benatia (muscle cramps), Philipp Lahm (ankle), Javi Martínez (knee), Thiago Alcantara (knee)
Getting relegated last season did not come as too much of a surprise, and Braunschweig has even come up with a strong follow-up promotion campaign. However, a poor run of results in 2015 – one point in four matches – has brought the Löwen back to second tier mediocrity.
That is not the direction that Lieberknecht, in his seventh season with the club, wants Braunschweig to be heading. The club has done its best to keep up with the improving second-tier clubs, but the financial restraints remain in place. He has done a decent job with what he has, but he has not been able to keep a level of consistency with his side's results.
Lieberknecht has already incorporated his winter signings Emil Berggreen and Nik Omladić, although part of that is because of the injury woes of Håvard Nielsen and Dennis Kruppke. He will likely deploy both as the rest of Braunschweig's midfield tries to coral Bayern as best they can. The manager has also mixed things up in defense as of late, but will likely revert to similar personnel that he has used most of the season.
No matter if Lieberknecht builds his defense with straw or with bricks, eventually Bayern will blow the house down. How Braunschweig is able to recover from an inevitable goal will determine how much of a chance they will have in the match.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1):
Hendrick Zuck – Nik Omladić – Raffael Korte
Damir Vrančić – Mirko Boland
Vegar Eggen Hedenstad – Saulo Decarli – Ken Reichel – Benjamin Kessel
Bench: Marjan Petković, Marcel Correia, Matthias Henn, Norman Theuerkauf, Salim Khelifi, Jan Hochscheidt, Ryu Seung Woo
Out/Suspended: Deniz Dogan, Dennis Kruppke (knee), Håvard Nielsen (muscle tear), Thorsten Oehrl (ankle), Marc Pfitzner (glut)
Anything less than a regulation victory for Bayern will be an unexpected result, but Braunschweig could keep Bayern off the scoresheet for a time. The defending cup champions will be knock hard on Braunschweig's door though, and it will be worth watching what happens when Bayern eventually break the door down. It is not presumptuous to pencil Bayern into the quarterfinals, but there is still a match to play.
Projected Score: Bayern Munich (3-0) Eintracht Braunschweig
The Other Action
Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs. 1. FC Kaiserslautern (Tuesday, 1:00 PM ET)
VfR Aalen vs. TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (Tuesday, 1:00 PM ET)
SC Freiburg vs. Köln (Tuesday, 2:30 PM ET)
Dynamo Dresden vs. Borussia Dortmund (Tuesday, 2:30 PM ET)
RasenBallsport Leipzig vs. VfL Wolfsburg (Wednesday, 1:00 PM ET)
Arminia Bielefeld vs. SV Werder Bremen (Wednesday, 1:00 PM ET)
Kickers Offenbach vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (Wednesday, 2:30 PM ET)