Though they have consistently progressed, Bayern Munich occasionally struggled in the Champions League group stage under Pep Guardiola. Those struggles never came against Pot 4 teams.
FC Rostov are poised to become the latest Champions League minnow to fall prey to Bayern’s class. Though they handled Ajax with ease in the second leg of the Champions League playoff, the runners-up of the Russian Premier League are not set up to contain such a power house. Even the coach that helped them get there, Kurban Berdyev, couldn’t be bothered to stick around to see how their Champions League campaign would go, which cannot give the team high hopes in playing consistent semifinalists in the competition.
The opponent may not be up for the occasion, but it will be an occasion nonetheless. This fixture kicks off Carlo Ancelotti’s first Champions League campaign with the German champions and is a competition many expect him to win.
The man-management of Bayern’s new coach was nearly flawless against Schalke. He hesitated bringing Arturo Vidal and Joshua Kimmich, who played multiple games in the international break, until beyond the hour mark and reaped the rewards of their delayed inclusion. Against a weaker opponent like the one Tuesday, one could assume Ancelotti to make some changes, but the coach tempered those expectations.
“I will not make any big rotations, but a few players could play,” Ancelotti said at Bayern’s press conference Monday. “I don’t know exactly who.”
“It is hard to set up the team,” he continued. “Rotation is important to keep everyone fit and to spark competition in the squad. It has to do with keeping the players motivated, and I want to have everyone through the bench on board until the end of the season.”
Kimmich is the player perhaps most deserving of a start. The German international scored twice last week, once for country and once for club. His last start came against Carl Zeiss Jena in the German Cup, and with Xabi Alonso starting the first two Bundesliga games, he could get his chance.
But Ancelotti seems to by trying to establish a level of consistency. It is why Douglas Costa could still be left out of the squad despite showing his fitness and electrifying talent on Friday. Ancelotti does see the Brazilian as a player who could play opposite Franck Ribery in attack, but he has yet to break up his front three of Ribery, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller all season long.
Who plays may end up being a moot point when all is said and done, for Bayern are already heavily favored to wipe the floor with Rostov. To witness anything less would be somewhat of a surprise.
Prediction: 4-0 Bayern win. Ancelotti admired Rostov’s unity against Ajax, but even he recognizes there are no stars in that team. As Schalke proved over the weekend, stars – especially in attack – make the biggest difference, and Rostov (like Schalke) do not have any elite players. The fixture Bayern may be dreading is the long trip to Rostov later this fall, but this summer showcase should be no sweat for this superstar squad.
Bayern Munich injuries and suspensions: Holger Badstuber, Jerome Boateng (thigh), Kingsley Coman (ankle), Arjen Robben (groin)
Rostov injuries and suspensions: Fedor Kudryashov (suspension)
Television and Streaming:
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