A title is already in hand, and with another becoming harder to grasp, Bayern Munich are going to do everything they can to attain it. Ironic, how once again Augsburg could be the beneficiaries of Bayern's Champions League ambitions.
Augsburg are still holding onto a Europa League spot, but the suiters are starting to increase in number. It doesn't help that they have five points in their last seven matches after holding off Wolfsburg at home.
Now another three points against Bayern late in the season could lift the Bavarian neighbors of the Rekordmeister into Europe. With several reserves expected to play for Bayern, it is Augsburg's chance to lose.
The Match (11th Meeting)
Location: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Referee: Sascha Stegemann
FC Bayern: 1 W, 0 D, 0 L
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Television and Streaming
US: GolTV, MyGermanTV +, Fubo TV
Germany: Sky Bundesliga 3 | HD, Sky Go, TeleClub Sport Live
FC Bayern: LLLWW
Bundesliga: 5 W, 0 D, 1 L
DFB-Pokal: 3 W, 0 D, 0 L
Largest Victory: 6-0 (DFB Pokal: October 10, 1983, Augsburg)
Largest Defeat: 0-1 (Bundesliga: April 5, 2014, Augsburg)
Bayern are not going to hide their priorities from the world, and with the title already in hand, the crowd is probably not going to ask him to. That means Pep Guardiola is going to bring the B-team out for another spin.
Who that B-team includes will be a mystery. It is worth noting Philipp Steinart, Patrick Weihrauch, and Lukas Görtler were all left off the Bayern II team sheet in their match against FC Memmingen. The U19 team also only has one match left, with the final round of the U19 Bundesliga beyond reach. That puts Michael Eberwein, Marco Hingerl, and Lukas Scholl in play as well.
In terms of first team players, the spine of Bayern's team will probably include some senior players. Dante and Javi Martínez will get a look to ensure Jérôme Boateng and Mehdi Benatia are ready for midweek action. Gianluca Gaudino will probably get another start, but he will likely need a senior partner, so one of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Xabi Alonso, or Philipp Lahm will play next to him. Unless Guardiola feels confident starting Görtler, Mario Götze will start in behind Pizarro after sitting against Barcelona.
Bayern will undoubtedly look disjointed, but that does not matter. As long as no one else gets hurt, Bayern will be satisfied with the outcome.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1)
Sinan Kurt – Mario Götze – Thomas Müller
Gianluca Gaudino – Philipp Lahm
Philipp Steinart – Dante – Javi Martínez – Mitchell Weiser
Bench: Pepe Reina, Juan Bernat, Jérôme Boateng, Rafinha, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Görtler, Robert Lewandowski
Out/Suspended: David Alaba (knee), Holger Badstuber (thigh), Franck Ribéry (ankle), Arjen Robben (calf), Sebastian Rode (hamsting), Tom Starke (ankle)
The chariot that was carrying Augsburg's Cinderella story has turned into a pumpkin. They might have to wake up from their dream for European competition.
Their biggest issue is the power in attack went out, and Markus Weinzierl cannot find a way to turn it back on. With Ji Dong-Won unable to rekindle his form from last season, Weinzierl has tried Raul Bobadilla up top. He and Tobias Werner are having the best seasons of their careers, but the two of them cannot carry out the attack by themselves.
A major absence from their team is a playmaker, which is why Weinzierl has swapped Dominik Kohr, Markus Feulner, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, and Halil Altintop. He has inverted his midfield triangle in different ways, but it has neither helped with their buildup or shielded the defense.
Augsburg are still well drilled and organized, working as a unit in all parts of the field. That said, they have not been able to mask their drop in form, bringing in a shadow of doubt they are ready for European competition.
They will travel down the road to Munich with a clear goal, and weather or not they can seize it after mixed results against bottom of the table teams is the question they have to answer.
Projected Lineup (4-1-4-1)
Tobias Werner – Halil Altintop – Markus Feulner – Michael Esswein
Abdul Rahman Baba – Ragnar Klavan – Hong Jeong-Ho – Paul Verhaegh
Bench: Alexander Manninger, Christoph Jancker, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Dominik Kohr, Tim Matavž, Ji Dong-Won, Sascha Mölders
Out/Suspended: Caiuby (muscle problems), Raphael Framberger (knee), Jan Morávek (muscle problems), Shawn Parker (muscle problems), Dominik Reinhardt (groin)
The personnel in this match will more even than one would think, so how each team approaches the match will be fascinating to see. It will also be worth watching what Guardiola can get out of his reserve players, for some may be parts of future Bayern squads. With one team wanting it more than the other, and players trying to regain their form, it is hard to see one of these clubs coming out on top.
The Other Action
UEFA Champions League Opponent
Hamburger SV vs. SC Freiburg (Friday, 2:30 PM EDT)
Borussia Dortmund vs. Hertha Berliner SC (Saturday, 9:30 AM EDT)
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Bayer 04 Leverkusen (Saturday, 9:30 AM EDT)
Hannover 96 vs. SV Werder Bremen (9:30 AM EDT)
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Hoffenheim (Saturday, 9:30 AM EDT)
VfB Stuttgart vs. 1. FSV Mainz 05 (12:30 PM EDT)
Paderborn vs. VfL Wolfsburg (Sunday, 9:30 AM EDT)
1. FC Köln vs. FC Schalke 04 (Sunday, 11:30 AM EDT)
|Bayer 04 Leverkusen||16||10||5||59||32||+27||58|
|FC Schalke 04||12||9||10||41||36||+5||45|
|SV Werder Bremen||11||9||11||47||59||-12||42|
|TSG 1899 Hoffenheim||11||8||12||46||49||-3||41|
|1. FSV Mainz 05||8||13||10||43||43||0||37|
|1. FC Köln||8||12||11||30||36||-6||36|
|Hertha Berliner SC||9||7||15||35||48||-13||34|
|SC Paderborn 07||7||10||14||29||59||-30||31|