Teams in three competitions sometimes run out of steam, but Bayern Munich have been immune to that late season fatigue. Results in one competition do not have an effect on another, and their last meeting with Eintracht Frankfurt was evidence of that – Bayern beat Arsenal 5-1 after drawing to Frankfurt in November.
This time around, the defending Bundesliga champions hopefuls could use their fixture against these relegation-bound Eagles to spring-board another big home result the Champions League. After all, a 6-0 result against Werder Bremen lead to a monumental second-leg comeback against Juventus. Bayern have consecutive home fixtures on the docket again, which could bode well for their first leg date with Benfica.
Frankfurt are running out of luck, and facing a poised Bayern team is the last thing they want to see.
The Match (98th Meeting)
Location: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Referee: Florian Meyer
Bayern: 41 W, 8 D, 14 L – 102 YC, 2 RC
Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com
Television and Streaming:
US: Fox Sports 2 | HD, GolTV, Fox Sports GO, Fox Soccer 2Go
Canada: Sportsnet World, Sportsnet World Now
Germany: Sky Bundesliga 1&2 | HD, Sky Go, TeleClub Sport Live
Bundesliga: 46 W, 22 D, 21 L
DFB Pokal: 3 W, 0 D, 1 L
UEFA Cup: 1 W, 0 D, 3 L
Largest Victory: 7-2 (Competition: May 30, 1981, Munich)
Largest Defeat: 0-6 (Bundesliga: November 22, 1975, Frankfurt)
Pep Guardiola may not have used his squad quite to its potential in recent weeks, but that is a problem he does not face with the squad once again ailing. With Arjen Robben and Medhi Benatia back on the shelf, the team becomes much easier to manage over the next two weeks.
However, there are several roles players will have to assume that they are not used to. Douglas Costa played as an inverted winger with Shakhtar Donetsk, but it is a role he has not thrived in with Bayern. He is better at playing on the left, but so is Franck Ribery, which makes playing the both of them problematic. The only way Bayern will be able to adjust is to get one of these two talents experience in an uncomfortable position.
Experience is also what Bayern's defense currently lacks, but the pair of David Alaba and Joshua Kimmich is the one Bayern will have to use against Benfica. Frankfurt do not have their best attackers anyways, so it should not be a problem no matter who plays. However, the unit needs great improvement if Bayern have any hope of achieving their long term goals.
This is a fixture we will all overlook at the end of the season, but how Bayern utilize this part of their fixture could determine how they act after titles are in hand.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1):
Franck Ribery – Thomas Müller – Douglas Costa
Thiago Alcantara – Xabi Alonso
Juan Bernat – David Alaba – Joshua Kimmich – Philipp Lahm
Bench: Sven Ulreich, Javi Martinez, Rafinha, Sebastian Rode, Arturo Vidal, Kingsley Coman, Mario Götze
Out/Suspended: Holger Badstuber (ankle), Medhi Benatia (muscle problems), Jerome Boateng (groin), Arjen Robben (groin)
Eintracht Frankfurt is a team that decayed like a tooth. The club seemed strong at first, but in a very short amount of time, management had to try to make last-minute repairs – namely letting to of Armin Veh and appointing Niko Kovac. The surgery has not worked, and the bad tooth will ultimately get pulled from the Bundesliga.
To make matters worse, their star striker, Alexander Meier, is on the shelf. He is not Lionel Messi, but Frankfurt's club was built around him in a Messi-like fashion. He had done his best, but his scoring efforts were not going to keep Frankfurt up with the defense behind him. Frankfurt made massive investments to try to support Meier, but with Meier gone, Frankfurt is stuck with several squad players in starting roles.
The defense has always been shaky for Frankfurt, but the resources the club has thrown at it have not helped either. Stefan Reinartz has made little impact in midfield, and Kaan Ayhan and David Abraham have not played as much as they maybe should have. That leaves the athletic-yet-reckless Carlos Zambrano as a defensive centerpiece, and the fact Timothy Chandler and Constant Djakpa are the ones helping him is not a good omen either.
Frankfurt has always struggled to keep up with the rest of the Bundesliga, and their gap between them and Bayern will never be more apparent than Saturday.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1):
Änis Ben-Hatira – Szabolcs Huszti – Stefan Aigner
Marc Stendera – Makoto Hasebe
Constant Djakpa – David Abraham – Carlos Zambrano – Timothy Chandler
Bench: Heinz Lindner, Kaan Ayhan, Yanni Regäsel, Bastian Oczipka, Marco Fabian, Luca Castignos, Luca Waldschmidt
Out/Suspended: Bamba Anderson (cartilage tear), Johannes Flum (knee), Mijat Gracinovic (illness), Slobodan Medojevic (achilles), Alexander Meier (knee), Stefan Reinartz (illness), Marco Russ (thigh)
Kovac is going to do whatever he can to barricade Frankfurt's goal if not just to save his team from embarrassment. Bayern is a relentless attacking team, and their waves of attack will eventually expose them. If this Bayern team is the Champions League force we think they are, then this match will be the one that sets them up for another Champions League semifinal appearance.
The Other Action
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Wolfsburg (Friday, 2:30 PM ET)
Hannover vs. Hamburger SV (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
Mainz 05 vs. Augsburg (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
FC Ingolstadt 04 vs. Schalke 04 (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
SV Darmstadt vs. Stuttgart (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Hertha Berlin (Sunday, 9:30 AM ET)
Hoffenheim vs. Köln (Sunday, 11:30 AM ET)
UEFA Champions League Opponent
Benfica vs. Sporting Braga (Friday, 3:00 PM ET)
|Hertha Berliner SC||14||6||7||37||27||+10||48|
|FC Schalke 04||13||5||9||39||34||+5||44|
|Bayer 04 Leverkusen||12||6||9||39||33||+6||42|
|1. FSV Mainz 05||12||5||10||35||33||+2||41|
|1. FC Köln||8||9||10||28||34||-6||33|
|FC Ingolstadt 04||8||9||10||23||31||-8||33|
|SV Darmstadt 98||6||10||11||28||41||-13||28|
|SV Werder Bremen||7||7||13||36||54||-16||28|
|TSG 1899 Hoffenheim||6||9||12||30||43||-13||27|