Bayern Munich have only had one real Bavarian rival: Nurnberg. With "The Club" in the second division, Augsburg has taken their mantle to provide some interesting results on otherwise dull matchdays.
Having a young coach – Markus Weinzierl – has also helped spice up the narrative. After all, he is the only coach to defeat Pep Guardiola twice, the necessary caveat being Bayern had already won the title and therefore did not bother to fight for a result. This meeting has a little more magnitude, for Bayern are trying to avoid dropping points in consecutive weeks for the first time this season.
Unlike Bayern however, Augsburg may have an extra distraction, one they are not used to having. The Fuggerstädter will be participating in their first European knockout stage, against historic English club Liverpool no less. The upcoming off-week for Bayern could be a big advantage, though the club may have to deal with fatigue from a midweek cup match. These two clubs had a very testy reverse fixture, so this Bavarian derby may be more entertaining than most expect.
The Match (11th Meeting)
Location: SGL-Arena, Augsburg, Germany
Head: Florian Meyer
Bayern: 40 W, 8 D, 14 L – 101 YC, 2 RC
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Television and Streaming:
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Bundesliga: 7 W, 0 D, 2 L
DFB Pokal: 3 W, 0 D, 0 L
Largest Victory: 6-0 (DFB-Pokal: October 7, 1983, Augsburg)
Largest Defeat: 0-1 (Bundesliga: April 5, 2014, Augsburg; May 9, 2015)
Bayern's defense has been the leading narrative of 2016, but not necessarily for negative reasons. Sure, they lost key defensive pieces at the beginning of the year, but they have not allowed a goal since their injury crisis took full affect. The fact Augsburg have struggled to muster a strong attack is only good news for Bayern's scrawny defense.
Guardiola has found an interim solution that has worked, which is playing Joshua Kimmich in central defense and having Xabi Alonso play deeper in midfield in order for Bayern not to be outnumbered in the back. Those tactics were all well and good, but Alonso is suspended after picking up two yellow cards against Bayer Leverkusen. His ban will require Guardiola either to field Rafinha and/or Juan Bernat – both of whom returned in midweek from their injury layoffs – or play Thiago Alcantara and or Arturo Vidal deeper in midfield.
Both options will make it more difficult for Guardiola to deploy a tactic he has been keen on in recent weeks: playing Douglas Costa through the middle. It may not be a tactic he would be inclined to use anyways, admitting after the Leverkusen match using Douglas in such a manner was a mistake. The squad conundrum this situation presents is whether to play the exuberant-but-inexperienced Kingsley Coman or an Arjen Robben who is still rounding into form. Robben's selection at midweek made a big difference against a stubborn Bochum side, but the solution against Augsburg may need to be a little more complex.
Bayern will conclude their one-week mini-tour around Germany, and three more points will add to a relatively successful road trip.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1):
Douglas Costa – Thomas Muller – Arjen Robben
Thiago Alcantara – Arturo Vidal
David Alaba – Holger Badstuber – Joshua Kimmich – Philipp Lahm
Bench: Tom Starke, Rafinha, Juan Bernat, Sebastian Rode, Kingsley Coman
Out/Suspended: Xabi Alonso (red card suspension), Medhi Benatia (thigh), Jerome Boateng (groin), Mario Götze (groin), Javi Martinez (knee), Franck Ribery (calf), Serdar Tasci (concussion)
After the best season in club history, Augsburg have fallen off their newly constructed pedestal. Perhaps they are the latest victims of the Europa League, though playing a match against Liverpool was probably not something they could have forecasted three years ago. Despite their struggles, they still have a solid team that has a good chance to survive.
Their solidity starts in defense, where Ragnar Klavan and Hong Jeong-Ho are one of the more solid pair of center backs in the league. Konstantinos Stafylidis has come on of late, proving to be a better option than homegrown Philipp Max, and Paul Verhaegh's experience has also helped keep Augsburg strong at the back. A big piece missing is Daniel Baier, who will have to miss extended time with a leg injury. Without Baier, the inexperienced Dominik Kohr has to plug the midfield hole, which proved to be a problem late in their match last week against Ingolstadt.
Attacking is where Augsburg dropped off the most. Raul Bobadilla has been a revelation in the Europa League, but only has two goals this season in the Bundesliga. Weinzierl has tried to extract all he can out of his mediocre options, but none of them have enough skill to consistently create scoring chances. Augsburg brought in Icelandic international Alfreō Finbogasson to fix this problem, but he still needs a few weeks to get up to speed.
A point or three against Bayern would go a long way towards their survival, but if they struggle with Ingolstadt at home, Bayern will not be a walk in the park.
Projected Lineup (4-1-4-1):
Caiuby – Jan Movarek – Koo Ja-Cheol – Alexander Esswein
Konstantinos Stafylidis – Ragnar Klavan – Hong Jeong-Ho – Paul Verhaegh
Bench: Alexander Manninger, Jeffrey Gouweleeuw, Christoph Janker, Markus Feulner, Piotr Trochowski, Ji Dong-Won, Alfreō Finnbogason
Out/Suspended: Daniel Baier (ankle), Jan-Ingwer Callsten-Bracker (calf, ankle)
Augsburg have fouled the most of any team this season, and an untimely one gave Bayern the three points in September. Augsburg's aggressiveness may be something Bayern can once again exploit, especially if Guardiola's chooses to use both of his new wingers simultaneously. The problem will be the same one Bayern have had against lower-tier opponents; three will not be a lot of real estate for Müller and Lewandowski in the box. Thiago and Vidal will have to be on their game, and if they are, this match for Bayern may be easier than it was in September.
The Other Action
1. FSV Mainz 05 vs. FC Schalke 04 (Friday, 2:30 PM ET)
Borussia Dortmund vs. Hannover 96 (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
VfL Wolfsburg vs. FC Ingolstadt 04 (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
VfB Stuttgart vs. Hertha Berliner SC (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
SV Darmstadt 98 vs. Bayer 04 Leverkusen (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
1. FC Köln vs. Eintracht Frankfurt (Saturday, 12:30 PM ET)
Hamburger SV vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (Sunday, 9:30 AM ET)
UEFA Champions League Opponent
Juventus vs. Napoli (Saturday, 2:45 PM ET)
|Hertha Berliner SC||10||5||5||29||21||+8||35|
|FC Schalke 04||10||3||7||29||26||+3||33|
|Bayer 04 Leverkusen||9||5||6||29||21||+8||32|
|1. FSV Mainz 05||9||3||8||25||24||+1||30|
|1. FC Köln||6||8||6||21||26||-5||26|
|FC Ingolstadt 04||7||5||8||14||21||-7||26|
|SV Darmstadt 98||6||6||8||21||29||-8||24|
|SV Werder Bremen||5||4||11||24||41||-17||19|
|TSG 1899 Hoffenheim||2||8||10||18||30||-12||14|