Already with a victory in the home fixture, Bayern head to Hannover trying to maintain their pace over second place Wolfsburg. A Champions League match at midweek, Bayern Munich can use this final match in this soft stretch of fixtures to gear up for another midweek clash.
Bayern have swatted away their last three Bundesliga opponents, but second tier Eintracht Braunschweig humbled the Rekordmeister a bit in the cup at midweek. Facing a team who plays ugly matches, the outcome may not look good in the end, and a half-hearted effort may punish them if they are not careful.
For all their successes this season, Bayern have a distinguishable set of results away from home. Fortunately, other top Bundesliga sides have scoffed at whatever home-field advantage Hannover could have, and a Bayern clinic could buck their negative road trend like it did in Paderborn.
The Match (55th Meeting)
Location: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Head: Tobias Welz
FC Bayern: 7 W, 1 D, 1 L – 8 YC
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FC Bayern: WWWDW
Bayern Munich (4-0) Hannover 96
FCB: Robert Lewandowski (6', 36'), Arjen Robben (13', 79')
Bundesliga: 34 W, 8 D, 9 L
DFB Pokal: 3 W, 0 D, 0 L
Largest Victory: 7-0 (Bundesliga: April 17, 2010, Munich)
Largest Defeat: 1-3 (Bundesliga: September 22, 1973, Hannover; March 5, 2011)
Since the German schedule is not as taxing as other countries, Pep Guardiola has only occasionally taken the next match into account when selecting his team. Throughout his career, the Spaniard has taken a match-by-match approach, at least until a title is firm in his grasp. He may have to stow away that tendency this weekend.
Bayern of course face a must-win match against Shakhtar Donetsk at midweek, especially with away goals counting against them. As much as Guardiola and his side want to focus on rattling their Roten counterparts, the match at midweek will be in the back of their minds. That said, his attempts to rotate the squad ahead or following a big match were largely unsuccessful, meaning he will probably need to stick with his bread and butter in order to come away with a positive result.
The one player he may be forced to play, rotated squad or not, is Xabi Alonso, a player suspended at midweek. His form has not been at the divine levels it was in the first half of the season, but he will be important with the space he will get as a deep-lying player.
Guardiola may be tempted to outnumber the defense like he did against Köln, sticking five attackers on the field to overwhelm the Hannover defense. However, like Braunschweig, Hannover is not very astute in possession, and the numbers game may not be necessary. With defenders that can win the ball in the penalty area, Guardiola will need both Lewandowski and Müller in the penalty area in order for Bayern to finish its chances.
Bayern has a deeper squad for Guardiola to play around with, which opens the possibility for him to submit another team sheet we have not seen before.
Projected Lineup (4-1-4-1):
Franck Ribéry – Thomas Müller – Arjen Robben
David Alaba – Xabi Alonso
Juan Bernat – Holger Badstuber – Jérôme Boateng – Mitchell Weiser
Bench: Pepe Reina, Medhi Benatia, Rafinha, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sebastian Rode, Mario Götze, Claudio Pizarro
Out/Suspended: Javi Martínez (knee), Philipp Lahm (ankle), Thiago Alcântara (knee)
Putting together a convincing string of results at the beginning of the season, Hannover 96's form in 2015 has dragged them into the relegation conversation. They have collected three points from five matches in the Rückrunde, which has allowed several teams to leapfrog them as European contenders.
Joselu remains isolated at the top of the formation, and manager Tayfun Korkut has not shown confidence in anyone else to pair with the Spaniard. Even with the acquisition of João Pereira, the defense has turned into a pumpkin since their 0-4 result from Bayern, and they seem as if they are hanging on by a thread whenever they take the field.
As with several teams who have faced Bayern recently, Hannover will need to take a conservative approach in order to have a chance. They will be without their captain Lars Stindl after his second yellow against Stuttgart, so the leadership will have to come from deeper in midfield.
Bayern bring a storm with them when they come to town, and hopefully for their sake, they can bring more than a raincoat.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1):
Edgar Prib – Hiroshi Kiyotake – Jimmy Briand
Ceyhun Gülselam – Manuel Schmiedebach
Miiko Albornoz – Nico Schulz – Marcelo – João Pereira
Ron Robert Zieler
Bench: Timo Königsmann, Salif Sané, Hiroki Sakai, Leon Andreasen, Yannick Schulz, Leonardo Bittencourt, Artur Sobiech
Out/Suspended: Andre Hoffmann (knee), Markus Miller (knee), Lars Stindl (red card)
Korkut will have to show some real tactical engineering in order to fair better than his managerial peers in recent weeks. Ribéry and Robben will take on fullbacks that are not familiar with their play, which will create several opportunities for Müller and Lewandowski in the penalty area. Hannover are going to need a break or two in order to find the back of the net, something that not many teams have done this season against Bayern.
The Other Action
VfB Stuttgart vs. Hertha Berliner SC (Friday, 2:30 PM ET)
FC Schalke 04 vs. TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
FC Augsburg vs. VfL Wolfsburg (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
SC Freiburg vs. SV Werder Bremen (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
Hamburger SV vs. Borussia Dortmund (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
1. FSV Mainz 05 vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (Saturday, 12:30 PM ET)
1. FC Köln vs. Eintracht Frankfurt (Sunday, 9:30 AM ET)
SC Paderborn 07 vs. Bayer 04 Leverkusen (Sunday, 11:30 AM ET)
UEFA Champions League Opponent
Metalist vs. Shakhtar Donetsk (Saturday, 10:00 AM ET)
|Bayer 04 Leverkusen||9||9||5||37||29||+8||36|
|FC Schalke 04||10||5||8||32||27||+5||35|
|TSG 1899 Hoffenheim||9||6||8||36||35||+1||33|
|SV Werder Bremen||8||6||9||39||49||-10||30|
|1. FSV Mainz 05||5||10||8||30||33||-3||25|
|1. FC Köln||6||7||10||21||29||-8||25|
|Hertha Berliner SC||7||3||13||28||42||-14||24|
|SC Paderborn 07||5||8||10||23||43||-20||23|