It has been a long time since Bayern Munich last played an actual competitive game (you know, one that has bearing on any of the actual trophies that matter), but that wait is coming to an end. On Saturday, Bayern Munich take on Drochtersen/Assel in the first round of the DFB Pokal.
Not great, to be honest, but I guess you get used to it if you’re a Bayern fan. David Alaba, who was sidelined with a severe bone bruise against Eintracht Frankfurt in the DFL Supercup, has not yet recovered. Serge Gnabry is also confirmed to be unavailable due to a thigh injury.
In his press conference, Kovac said that Juan Bernat and James Rodrgiuez would be evaluated in training before being cleared to play, so consider them doubtful. Apparently they both had ankle problems befoe the Hamburg game in midweek. Kovac also said that Corentin Tolisso may get some game time, but indicated that he needed to catch up on some training. He’s probably going to be substitute in that case.
So let’s get down to the lineup. In attack, expect Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller to line up with Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery on either flank. Kingsley Coman could play, but he started against Hamburg so it’s possible that Kovac may intend to use him as a super-sub once again. The midfielders? It’s anyone’s guess — Leon Goretzka may take the place of Thiago Alcantara or Javi Martinez for a game.
In defense, with Alaba injured and Bernat doubtful, Rafinha might have to step in and play at left back. The Brazilian had to play the position extensively last season, so he’s up to the task. At goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer will definitely start, the coach confirmed it. Those who thought Pokal minutes would go to Sven Ulreich will be disappointed by the news, but Kovac said he wants Neuer to get as many games under his belt as possible.
So, what could the lineups be? Here are our best guesses:
John N. Dillon
"We cannot and will not underestimate anyone in the opening rounds of the Pokal. We've been analyzing the opponent and will prepare ourselves accordingly. We know we're the heavy favorites."— FC Bayern US (@FCBayernUS) August 17, 2018
-Niko #Kovac on facing SV Drochtersen/ Assel in #DFBPokal pic.twitter.com/QsS1et3cso