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Bayern Munich vs. Cologne, Bundesliga preview

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Following up an Atletico loss is not easy, and neither is playing a confident Cologne team.

Club Atletico de Madrid v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Playing a game in the Vicente Calderon is a grueling experience, and a sting of a defeat there can linger in the following match.

Bayern dropped points to Borussia Mönchengladbach after their first leg defeat in April. Barcelona lost to Valencia when Atletico Madrid knocked them out of the Champions League last season.

This time Bayern face Cologne, a team that has allowed just two goals this season in a competitions. The Billy Goats have not done historically well in Allianz Arena, allowing eight goals in their last two trips since being promoted in 2014. Peter Stöger seems to have Cologne at a different level right now though, leading the club to their best start since 1987.

“Cologne is a good team that has started well in the league,” Ancelotti said in Bayern’s press conference on Friday. “We have respect and expect a very tough game – also because we played on Wednesday and were traveling.”

Cologne’s success is not only due to their strong defense, but also their surprisingly efficient attack. Anthony Modeste is tied for third place in the goal scoring race with four goals this season. Yuya Osako has also returned from squad obscurity to contribute a couple as well in the absence of Leonardo Bittencourt.

“They have very quick players in attack,” said Ancelotti. “I also know Modeste from my time in France.”

Bayern’s defense has been even more impressive’s than Cologne this season, but Atletico Madrid showed how quickly their defense can fall apart. The pace Cologne has in attack could test the limits of the likes of Xabi Alonso and Javi Martinez, two players whose lack of speed has caused them to struggle in the past. But Cologne are no Atletico Madrid when it comes to finishing chances.

Bayern’s attack also stagnated in Madrid and a few squad changes may liven things up a bit. Ancelotti said he wants to rotate the squad so Bayern “can play with a higher intensity”, and that could be an opening for Arjen Robben to get his first start with the team. He has made just two appearances from the bench so far this season and the Dutchman could be ready for at least an hour of football.

The Cologne team traveling to the Allianz Arena seems more confident than in years past. Jonas Hector said the squad will be traveling to Munich with their “chests out”. But Bayern brought Hertha Berlin back down to earth a week and a half ago, and after a disappointing performance in Madrid, they may want to prove they’ve still got it by bringing another Bundesliga overachiever down a peg.

Prediction: 2-0 Bayern win. Hamburg played the best counter-pressing football against Bayern in the Bundesliga this season, but even they could not stop the defending champions from coming out on top. Stöger’s defensive style is more conservative, and that could work to Bayern’s benefit. Unless Cologne’s midfielders and attackers work as hard as Atletico’s, Bayern is going to have time to pick the Cologne defense apart.

Bayern Munich injuries and suspensions: Holger Badstuber, Douglas Costa (thigh)

Cologne injuries and suspensions: Leonardo Bittencourt (thigh), Thomas Kessler, Dominik Maroh (ribs)

Television and Streaming:
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