You’ve perhaps been reading something else—oh, I don’t know, maybe about Niko Kovac being announced as Bayern Munich’s new head coach? He just signed a 3-year deal on a €2.2 million transfer fee. Or maybe (more probably) you were reading about the Champions League draw that happened in the wee hours this morning (if you were in the US, anyway).
Well, guess what? Before Bayern play against Madrid, and before they play against Bayer Leverkusen next Tuesday in the DFB-Pokal semifinal (oh, right! I forgot about that third of a treble), they have to play the Foals, good ol' Borussia Mönchengladbach.
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In theory, Bayern Munich and Jupp Heynckes want to win this home game. That’s natural. But they will not take any risks at the present moment, coming fresh off a brutally physical game against Sevilla FC and facing another knockout match looming on Tuesday. Jupp Heynckes will spare every player he can possibly spare and fill the gaps with fresh legs.
A quartet of players took a beating against Sevilla: Sevilla put a target on Robert Lewandowski’s back (and front, face, legs, and ankles). He looked twenty years older at the final whistle. I see a zero percent chance that he starts in this match. James Rodriguez and Javi Martinez also suffered fairly serious knocks (James on the thigh, Javi to the knee). Neither one should be wasted on Gladbach. Man of the Match Rafinha (I love pointing that out) is the only one who seems likely to return: he took a knock to the shoulder, but should be fit to run, and Bayern need him to hold down right-back so Joshua Kimmich can rest.
Given the injury situation, Heynckes will draw on Bayern’s deep bench to field a fresh team. Expect Sebastian Rudy and Corentin Tolisso to make appearances, while Juan Bernat plays at left-wing to allow Franck Ribery to rest his weary legs. Heynckes recently informed the press that Arjen Robben also suffered a bruised knee versus Sevilla, so he too should be ruled out. More likely than not, Thomas Müller will play his part on the right.
We asked three of our writers to predict the lineup, and you can see the (shockingly similar) results for yourself:
John N. Dillon
Gladbach: “Nothing to lose”
It has been an up and down season for Dieter Hecking and Borussia Mönchengladbach. They are currently standing in 8th place on the Bundesliga table with 11 wins and 11 losses (and 7 draws), but now is as good a time as any to win Gladbach’s first game at the Allianz since March 2015. The team already served Jupp Heynckes his first defeat with Bayern in the Hinrunde last November.
Hecking will have to do it, though, without one of his regular strikers, Lars Stindl (5 goals, 3 assists), who is suspended for accumulating yellow cards. Kicker’s Jan Lustig believes that Hecking may give Josip Drmic a chance to shine in Stindl’s place. Although normally not a starter, Drmic has put in several strong performances in the past few weeks, and Hecking may opt to play the players who are in form. As Hecking himself put it, “We actually have nothing to lose.”
Gladbach typically line up with a back three (Elvedi-Vestergaard-Ginter) and an offense of two strikers—probably Raffael and Drmic. Torgan Hazard, Gladbach’s leading scorer (9 goals, 6 assists), is flexible enough to fit into a lineup featuring both of them. Since Hecking’s only chance is to play aggressively, expect Gladbach to try their best.