Heartbeats should be back to a normal level after an eventful second leg against Juventus. Now Bayern Munich can focus on going into the final international break of the season with a second-consecutive victory.
Picking up points in Cologne is easier said than done though. Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Mönchengladbach both could not leave Rhein-Energie-Stadion with a single point. Peter Störger's team may not have a consistent-enough attack to compete for a European spot, but his sides always know how to defend, and it is organization that Bayern has struggled with in the league.
Cologne may not like their chances this time though, for Juventus could not take down Bayern and they are Italian champions. Pep Guardiola does not even have to use the same players with all of the talent at his disposal. Bayern have nothing to keep in reserve, and Cologne may feel the full brunt of that force.
The Match (90th Meeting)
Location: Rhein-Energie-Stadion, Cologne, Germany
Referee: Tobias Welz
Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com
Television and Streaming:
US: Fox Soccer Plus, GolTV, Fox Soccer 2Go
Canada: Sportsnet World, Sportsnet World Now
Germany: Sky Bundesliga 1&2 | HD, Sky Go, TeleClub Sport Live
Bundesliga: 39 W, 22 D, 22 L
DFB Pokal: 5 W, 0 D, 1 L
Largest Victory: 8-0 (DFB-Pokal: February 4, 2003, Munich)
Largest Defeat: 1-6 (Bundesliga: December 11, 1965, Köln)
Guardiola took a conservative route against Juventus in midfield, but he can take more risks against Cologne. Bayern will be playing against a team comfortable with sitting in their own penalty box, a perfect opportunity to test more of his attacking talent.
This trial may specifically apply to Mario Gotze, who has yet to reestablish himself after his injury. He may have an opportunity to improve his role this weekend if he gets a second consecutive start. His inclusion will have to come at someone else's charity, but Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller are two player who probably deserve a rest.
Based on the failed experiment against Juventus, Guardiola has to be more straightforward with his defense. Joshua Kimmich may not have gotten called into the German national team, but he remains a key player in the Spaniard's defense. Against a team that will likely counterattack, Kimmich will be important for interceptions even if he cannot stack up physically against the likes of Anthony Modeste.
Bayern cannot afford to drop any more points with just a five point gap between them and Dortmund, so they will have to be careful this weekend when they go to Cologne.
Projected Lineup (4-1-4-1):
Franck Ribery – Thiago Alcantara – Mario Götze – Douglas Costa
Juan Bernat – David Alaba – Joshua Kimmich – Philipp Lahm
Bench: Sven Ulreich, Medhi Benatia, Rafinha, Sebastian Rode, Arturo Vidal, Thomas Muller, Kingsley Coman
Out/Suspended: Holger Badstuber (ankle), Jerome Boateng (groin), Javi Martinez (knee), Arjen Robben (groin)
With some of their performances this season, Cologne have looked like a team that could vie for a Europa League spot, but their squad has hit a ceiling of mediocrity. Stöger's conservative tactics are not only a personal preference but an inevitable choice with the small squad he has at his disposal.
Cologne have certainly made their transfers count though, for both Leonardo Bittencourt and Anthony Modeste are having per haps the best seasons of their careers. Modeste has cooled off after a torrid start though, and Cologne's attack has not been consistent since. Simon Zoller and Yuya Osako – two players Cologne brought with them from the 2. Bundesliga last season – show flashes of promise, but neither are consistent enough for Stöger to rely upon regularly.
Being a defensive coach, the most interesting aspect of their team is their defense. Jonas Hector is clearly his best player, and much like Guardiola and his fullbacks, Stöger is not afraid of putting Hector in midfield. The move has not helped Cologne in other departments though, and their buildup appears more static when the German international plays there. Filip Mladenović is not a player Stöger can afford to sit though, which means Hector may have to play in midfield in order for the coach to get the best out of his squad.
Cologne will have a tough task absorbing the attacks of Bayern, but if previous results against top teams are any indicator, they at least have a shot of taking points off of the Bundesliga's best team.
Projected Lineup (5-2-3):
Leonardo Bittencourt – Anthony Modeste – Yannick Gerhardt
Jonas Hector – Matthias Lehmann
Filip Mladenović – Frederik Sorensen – Mergim Mavraj – Dominique Heintz – Marcel Risse
Bench: Daniel Mesenhöler, Dominik Maroh, Pavel Ołkowski, Milos Jojić, Dusan Svento, Yuya Osako, Simon Zoller
Out/Suspended: Kevin Vogt (foot)
The match will be a real gauntlet for Bayern, but judging by past road performances, they seem to find a way to get a result. The key will be if Lewandowski can make a big enough impact, and whether the players behind him free up space for him to operate. He may even have to play away from goal to get things going for Bayern, which could play in Cologne's favor. Bayern have a lot of attacking players in form right now though, and eventually Cologne's stingy defense will break down.
The Other Action
Schalke 04 vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (Friday, 2:30 PM ET)
Wolfsburg vs. SV Darmstadt 98 (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
Hamburger SV vs. Hoffenheim (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
Hertha Berlin vs. FC Ingolstadt 04 (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Hannover (Saturday, 12:30 PM ET)
Stuttgart vs. Bayer Leverkusen (Sunday, 9:30 AM ET)
Augsburg vs. Borussia Dortmund (Sunday, 11:30 AM ET)
UEFA Champions League Opponent
Boavista vs. SL Benfica (Sunday, 1:15 PM ET)
|Hertha Berliner SC||13||6||7||35||26||+9||45|
|FC Schalke 04||12||5||9||37||34||+3||41|
|1. FSV Mainz 05||12||4||10||34||32||+2||40|
|Bayer 04 Leverkusen||11||6||9||37||33||+4||39|
|1. FC Köln||8||9||9||28||33||-5||33|
|FC Ingolstadt 04||8||9||9||22||29||-7||33|
|SV Darmstadt 98||6||9||11||27||40||-13||27|
|SV Werder Bremen||7||6||13||35||53||-18||27|
|TSG 1899 Hoffenheim||5||9||12||27||42||-15||24|