At the time of a squad crisis, a midweek cup tie is not what Bayern Munich wants to have on its fixture list. After last year's cup let down though, the disappointment was big enough to notice that the club's trophy case was missing one last season.
After two Bundesliga opponents, Bayern are back in the quarterfinals, but their quarterfinal opponent is not far removed from Bundesliga promotion. It also is a team that easily handled Freiburg pretty handily, a team that was in the Bundesliga a year ago.
Bochum gave Bayern a real good run of it four seasons of go, nearly forcing extra time before Arjen Robben found a winner. With Bayern's road record, a knotted scoreline could be a reasonable result, but the Bundesliga champions do not have the league structure to get out of playing a full match. Bayern will need every ounce of their quality as they try to advance their seventh-straight German cup semifinal.
The Match (78th Meeting)
Location: rewirpowerSTADION, Bochum, Germany
Referee: Bastian Dankert
Bayern: 7 W, 1 D, 0 L – 10 YC, 1 RC
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Bundesliga: 45 W, 15 D, 8 L
DFB Pokal: 3 W, 1 D, 1 L
Largest Victory: 6-1 (Bundesliga: March 22, 1986, Munich)
Largest Defeat: 0-3 (Bundesliga: October 11, 1985, Bochum)
The worst time for Bayern to have a midweek fixture? When they do not even have a defense to rotate. Pep Guardiola only has one center back – one who had serious knee and thigh injuries – and in order to give him rest, he would half to field a team without a center back. It was something he has done before, sure, but in a cup situation, it is a much riskier chance to take.
Xabi Alonso's league suspension makes that chance a little easier to take, and his ability to contain Stefan Kießling was impressive. He had the help of David Alaba next to him too, but unless Juan Bernat is ready to go, Alaba will have to stay put on the left. Joshua Kimmich will be a trusty side kick Alonso did not have before, and his resourcefulness in the center back role has allowed Bayern to keep two clean sheets.
Ironically, defense has not been Bayern's issue on the road this season. Bayern have scored 1.65 goals per game on the road this season as opposed to 3.50 goals per game at home. Guardiola rested Thomas Muler against Leverkusen, and the impact he made when he came on for Arjen Robben was nearly instantaneous. Having Müller back on the field will certainly help spark things, but service men like Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman will have to develop the same chances in order for Bayern to succeed.
Bochum is a team Bayern needed stoppage time to beat a few years ago, and with a thin squad, another taxing match will not be a productive result.
Projected Lineup (3-5-2):
Thomas Müller – Robert Lewandowski
Douglas Costa – Thiago Alcantara – Philipp Lahm – Sebastian Rode – Kingsley Coman
David Alaba – Xabi Alonso – Joshua Kimmich
Bench: Tom Starke, Juan Bernat, Holger Badstuber, Rafinha, Arturo Vidal, Arjen Robben
Out/Suspended: Medhi Benatia (thigh), Jerome Boateng (groin), Mario Götze (groin), Javi Martinez (knee), Franck Ribery (calf), Serdar Tasci (concussion)
Don't be fooled by Bochum's second-tier standing; they are a team that is probably better than a few Bundesliga sides at the moment. Gertjan Veerbek's team is playing quality football, and they are challenging for promotion because of it.
The strength lies in attacking midfield. Marco Terrazino, Janik Haberer, and Onur Bulut all decent players on the ball and generate a majority of the scoring chances Bochum gets. Veerbek is fortunate Simon Terrode and Peniel Mlapa are similar types of players up top, though Terrode's experience clearly outmatches Mlapa's physical attributes.
Veerbek has them set up in a pretty simple double-pivot system, and he has two quality fullbacks in Timo Petrel and Stefano Celozzi – both players who extended their contracts this season. As the captain of the squad, Patrick Fabian keeps everyone in line at the back, while Felix Bastians's role is a little more loose.
Bochum defeated Bundesliga teams in winter break friendlies, which should give them some confidence when they host the Bundesliga's best team.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1):
Marco Terrazino – Janik Haberer – Onur Bulut
Tim Hoogland – Anthony Losilla
Timo Perthel – Felix Bastians – Patrick Fabian – Stefano Celozzi
Bench: Felix Dornebusch, Malcolm Cacutalua, Giliano Wijnaldum, Tobias Weis, Arvydas Novikovas, Thomas Eisfeld, Peniel Mlapa
Unlike previous Bayern matches, this may be one which is won and lost on the flanks. Douglas and Coman have been very effective against opposing fullbacks, something Robben has not gotten up to speed with. Bastian and Fabian are two defenders average in the air, which could provide an opportunity for Müller or Lewandowski to get free in the box. Bayern are the undisputed favorites, but they need to show up in Bochum to prove they are.