What is one way to get over a Champions League defeat on away goals? Win the league title four days later. Bayern Munich passed up their chance to clinch their 26th championship last week against Borussia Mönchengladbach, but could still celebrate in Bavaria if they beat Ingolstadt.
Based on how other teams have performed in Ingolstadt this season, clinching the title is not a guarantee this week either. Ingolstadt have embarrassed some very good teams in Audi-Sportpark, and Bayern could be the next on their list. The Schanzer took the game to Bayern in Munich, and with a home crowd at their back, they might be motivated to upset their Bavarian neighbors even though they have nothing to play for.
Bayern have waited longer than usual to win the Bundesliga this season, so they probably do not want to wait any longer. If they have to, Hannover could be the one of the first relegated team to take away a title on the final day of the season.
The Match (3rd Meeting)
Location: Audi-Sportpark, Ingolstadt, Germany
Referee: Florian Meyer
Bayern: 62 W, 8 D, 14 L – 104 YC, 2 RC
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Bundesliga: 1 W, 0 D, 0 L
DFB Pokal: 1 W, 0 D, 0 L
Largest Victory: 6-0 (DFB-Pokal: October 26, 2011, Munich)
No Champions League, DFB-Pokal in a few weeks, and a Bundesliga title to win. Pep Guardiola may be fielding his best team on Saturday. What will it be? We'll just have to wait and see.
Ingolstadt is a hard team to break down, but do not have the goal scoring potency Atlético Madrid have. Bayern therefore can get away with more attacking talent, some that they probably needed in their two legs of the semifinal. Specifically, Mario Gotze is a type of player that could be useful against a conservative team with his hold-up ability, skill on the ball and the way he combines with his teammates. It was hard to see a player like him go on used while Thomas Muller stumble over the ball trying to weave his way through the Atlético defense.
Bayern's defense can be a little more aggressive as well, playing with the high line they like to play without the danger of getting torched on a counter-attack. Having started each of the last two matches, Jerome Boateng may need a match off in order to stay fresh. They way Serdar Tasci has performed in recent weeks, Guardiola can afford to leave Boateng out of the squad even though Medhi Benatia is back on the injury list. Philipp Lahm can slot back into midfield as well, having to handle Stefan Lex or Moritz Hartmann rather than Antoine Griezmann or Fernando Torres.
The title seemed like it was theirs for the last several months, but a few more slip-ups may cause the title to slide away.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1):
Franck Ribery – Mario Gotze – Thomas Muller – Douglas Costa
David Alaba – Serdar Tasci – Javi Martinez – Philipp Lahm
Bench: Sven Ulreich, Juan Bernat, Rafinha, Joshua Kimmich, Arturo Vidal, Thiago Alcantara, Kingsley Coman
Out/Suspended: Holger Badstuber (ankle), Medhi Benatia, Arjen Robben (groin)
Not many teams that make their Bundesliga debut survive long enough to enjoy the experience. Ingolstadt is one of the clubs that has broken that trend. Ralph Hasenhüttl has kept things rather simple for his side, and they will experience a second Bundesliga season because of it.
Much like most teams who come up and survive, Ingolstadt have one of the best defenses in the Bundesliga, but their attack has also kept them mid-table. The addition of Dario Lezcano has provided the team with a legitimate goal scoring threat, even if he has not tallied the goals quite yet. Moritz Hartmann has scored seven goals in the second half of the season because Lezcano has facilitated the process in which he gets chances to score.
Sporting director Thomas Finke recently called Ingolstadt a development club, but their defense is already top class. Benjamin Hübner is one of the toughest defenders in the division to beat, though he will never be recognized by someone like Joachim Löw because he does not have much skill on the ball. Danny Da Costa is the most all-around player Hasenhütll has, and it is a shame the defender will be departing the club – more specifically returning to Leverkusen – at the same time his coach does.
A tyrannosaurus rex can count how many teams have gotten a result against Bayern on both of its hands, but Ingolstadt could be the latest to do so.
Projected Lineup (4-3-3):
Stefan Lex – Dario Lezcano – Moritz Hartmann
Alfredo Morales – Roger – Pascal Groß
Markus Suttner – Benjamin Hübner – Marvin Matip – Danny Da Costa
Bench: Örjan Nyland, Romain Bregerie, Tobias Levels, Almog Cohen, Maurice Multhaup, Matthew Leckie, Lukas Hinterseer
Out/Suspended: Danilo (toe), Robert Bauer (yellow card suspension), Jan Christiansen (ankle)
Bayern's dejection will be interesting to watch, but if Guardiola is the motivator he aims to be, the Reds will be ready to take on their newest Bavarian rivals. Ingolstadt will be even more tenacious in this match than they were in the reverse fixture, and they will have a legitimate chance to win. Even though their form in 2016 has not been as spectacular, Bayern still have the players to get the job done, and they will be celebrating their title in Bavaria after all.
Projected Score: FC Ingolstadt 04 (1-2) Bayern Munich
The Other Action
FC Schalke 04 vs. FC Augsburg (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Bayer 04 Leverkusen (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
Hamburger SV vs. VfL Wolfsburg (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
VfB Stuttgart vs. 1. FSV Mainz 05 (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
1. FC Köln vs. SV Werder Bremen (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
Hannover 96 vs. TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
Hertha Berliner SC vs. SV Darmstadt 98 (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
|Bayer 04 Leverkusen||17||6||9||52||36||+16||57|
|Hertha Berliner SC||14||7||11||41||40||+1||49|
|FC Schalke 04||14||6||12||46||47||-1||48|
|1. FSV Mainz 05||13||7||12||43||41||+2||46|
|1. FC Köln||10||11||11||36||40||-4||41|
|FC Ingolstadt 04||10||10||12||30||37||-7||40|
|TSG 1899 Hoffenheim||9||10||13||38||49||-11||37|
|SV Darmstadt 98||8||11||13||36||50||-14||35|
|SV Werder Bremen||9||7||16||49||65||-16||34|