Now that FC Bayern Munich’s Oktoberfest hegemony has been challenged by Augsburg, Hertha Berlin are the next pretender looking to take the Bavarians down a peg or two. Coach Niko Kovac finds himself in a tricky position with regard to rotation of his first XI, as a Champions League clash against Ajax looms in midweek. How will FC Bayern cope?
First thing is the injury news. Add Leon Goretzka to the slowly growing list of names on Bayern’s injury list — Niko Kovac confirmed that the player has an ankle injury from the Augsburg game and will miss the match. That brings the list of injured players up to four names — Corentin Tolisso, Kingsley Coman, Rafinha, and Leon Goretzka. Let’s hope that it doesn’t get any longer than that.
Jonathan Meier, a young left back from FCB II, will travel with the team to Berlin. This could mean that Kovac intends to rotate David Alaba even further, because his rest in midweek was cut short by Goretzka’s untimely injury. Apart from this, the coach said that the Wagner-Lewy rotation had been agreed upon long before the Augsburg game, and there would be changes for Berlin. That basically means that Robert Lewandowski will be back in the starting lineup at the Olympiastadion. Expect a well-rested James Rodriguez and Thiago Alcantara to line up behind him.
Here’s a roundup of everything else said in the coach’s press conference:
- Sven Ulreich is performing well in training, but Manuel Neuer will continue to start games.
- Thomas Muller is a versatile player, whose value comes not just from goals, but creating spaces and pressing the opponent as well.
- Rotation will continue, whether it’s against Berlin, Ajax, or Gladbach.
Without further ado, here are our best guesses for the starting lineup in Berlin: