The path to relegation passes through Munich: as the Dinosaurs slowly sink into the tar pit of their own making at the bottom of the table, Bayern Munich hope to come three points closer to clinching their sixth consecutive Bundesliga championship. Hamburg have obliged them mightily in all their recent visits to Munich:
Hamburg in Munich. The last results.
No risking James Rodriguez
Jupp Heynckes has an almost entirely healthy squad at his disposal with the notable exceptions of Kingsley Coman (ankle) and Manuel Neuer (foot). James Rodriguez, who has steadily worked on returning from a minor calf injury, rejoined full team training for the first time this week. Be that as it may, Heynckes has stated that he will not take any risks with the Colombian. Hence James will presumably not play tomorrow—but that makes it increasingly likely that he will play on Wednesday in Istanbul.
Here is how I expect Bayern to line up:
Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery seem virtually certain to start. Ribery was sidelined against Freiburg by a stomach bug, while Robben smoldered 90 minutes on the bench. Expect both to start in their wonted positions on the left and right. Between them, Thomas Müller will probably be accompanied by Thiago—Thiago serving more as a distributing attacking midfielder, and Müller looking to receive.
Javi Martinez was also rested against Freiburg and seems likely to play, while Arturo Vidal can rest his legs for Wednesday. In the back line, having started both Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng in Freiburg, Heynckes may let Niklas Süle give his more injury prone center-back a break ahead of the big game on Wednesday.
The lineup overall is a compromise between a 4-1-4-1 and a 4-2-3-1, varying with Thaigo’s positioning.
Resident Hamburger: Extinction
Hamburg have a grand total of 18 points in the Bundesliga table, one ahead of last-place Köln and seven behind Mainz. This is the year that the infamous clock will stop. The Dinosaurs are so bad that they got their bosses fired, as Hamburg's board of directors finally dismissed both club chairman Heribert Bruchhagen and sporting director Jens “Jetzt Wirklich” Todt.
Coach Bernd Hollerbach has not even included highly touted youngster Jann-Fiete Arp—the one player Bayern fans most certainly want to see—or American Bobby Wood in the squad. If ever a team looked dead on arrival, it is Hamburg SV.
Philipp Kostic is Hamburg’s top scorer, with all of four goals. (Robert Lewandowski has two more goals than all of Hamburg’s players put together—20 to just 18). Besides goalkeeper Christian Mathenia, their best player is probably perennial nuisance Kyriakos Papadopoulos. Look for the mercurial center-back with the number 9 to collect his 10th yellow card and second suspension of the season.
Oh yeah, and the TEAM BUS is in the squad (third line—thanks Phil Quinn):