After months without action, Bayern Munich will finally get back into action as their preseason kicks into second gear. First up is the annual Telekom Cup, a brief tournament that gives Bayern and its fans a taste of what the 2015/16 season will look like.
This season, Augsburg will join Bayern as the second bavarian team ever to play in the tournament. Tenured participants Borussia Mönchengladbach and Hamburger SV will return to the tournament as well, making for another interesting field of clubs. All of these sides have tactical tweaks and personnel partnerships they will test out, and the finalists are not always clubs one would expect.
Being a two day tournament, the matches in the Telekom Cup are much shorter. This years version will have just 45 minutes of play instead of 45 minute halves, all the matches taking place on July 12. Substitutions are unlimited like any other friendly. If the match is tied after two periods, the two teams decide the match with penalty kicks.
Being the first tournament against Bundesliga opponents, this is where Pep Guardiola reveals the tactical nuances he is trying to implement into Bayern's team. Two years ago, the gaffer tested Thiago in the single-pivot holding midfield role, a setup that stuck for most of the season. Last year, he utilized three at the back, a strategy he used more than once throughout the season.
Some players are still missing from the side after their international duties, but a few critical players will return to the fold. Arjen Robben and David Alaba, both of whom have been training, will be able to strut their stuff after missing the end of last season. Javi Martínez will also have a more prominent role after his fitness issues last season, and where Guardiola decides to utilize his defensive talent will be fascinating to watch.
Jérôme Boateng and Douglas Costa both returned to training on Friday after their vacations, but neither will probably feature in the tournament. Sebastian Rode, dealing with an ankle issue, has returned as well, and Guardiola will probably tread cautiously with his midfielder. Despite those absences, Bayern still have a pretty full squad, a lot of pieces Guardiola can move around over the weekend.
Projected Lineup (3-4-2-1)
Sinan Kurt – Thomas Müller
Juan Bernat – Xabi Alonso – Thiago Alcântara – Arjen Robben
David Alaba – Javi Martínez – Philipp Lahm
Bench: Sven Ulreich, Dante, Jan Kirchhoff, Rafinha, Sebastian Rode, Gianluca Gaudino, Lukas Scholl, Julian Green
Out: Holger Badstuber, Medhi Benatia, Jérôme Boateng, Douglas Costa, Mario Götze, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Joshua Kimmich, Franck Ribéry, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Tom Starke
FC Augsburg – Semifinal Opponent
Preparing for their first European campaign in club history, their team has not changed much in terms of personnel. While Højbjerg elected to return to Bayern, Augsburg were able to secure the services of Dominik Kohr on a permanent transfer. He, Daniel Baier, and Markus Feulner will roam the center of the park. Manager Markus Weinzierl will not field budding Bundesliga star Raul Bobadilla after his participation in the Copa America, but has Nikola Djurdjić back from injury and newly acquired David Spies to take his place.
Out: Jan-Ingwer Callsen Bracker, Raul Bobadilla, Raphael Framberger, Jan Morávek, Shawn Parker, Ji Dong-Won
This is a big preseason for manager Lucien Favre, with several new additions to integrate in preparation for Champions League football. Favre has a new striker leading his line, the Foals exchanging Max Kruse for Josip Drmic in the offseason. Perhaps the most important area is maintaining his top Bundesliga defense, having to somehow include teenagers Nico Elvedi and Andreas Christiansen into his plans. Despite players on international duty, Mönchengladbach has a deep squad, and they tend to meet Bayern in the tournament.
Out: Fabian Johnson, Julian Korb, Amin Younes
After barely surviving another relegation battle, Hamburg will try once again to build momentum in the preseason. The difference between this campaign and last is most of their business is already done. Bruno Labbadia has a new defense to work with, adding Gotoku Sakai form Stuttgart, signing Emir Spahić, and recollecting Jonathan Tah from loan. Conversely, most of the attack is still in tact from last season, only Jacques Zoua the "newcomer" after returning from loan. How Labbadia organizes Hamburg is interesting to watch, for the club is desperate for some kind of continuity.
Out: Jaroslav Drobny, Ashton Götz
Semifinal 1: Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Hamburger SV – 15: 00 CET (9:00 AM EDT)
Semifinal 2: Bayern Munich vs. FC Augsburg – 16:15 CET (10:15 AM EDT)
Third Place Match: Loser of Semifinal 1 vs. Loser of Semifinal 2 – 17:30 CET (11:30 AM EDT)
Final: Winner of Semifinal 1 vs. Winner of Semifinal 2 – 18:45 CET (12:45 PM EDT)
Location: Borussia Park, Mönchengladbach, Germany
Date: July 12, 2015
How to Watch: Matches will stream on ran.de