Bayern Munich will play VfL Bochum tomorrow in the second round of the DFB Pokal. Bayern, the current winners, have struggled recently in regular league play and will be hoping to quieten doubts over their recent performances by grabbing a good result against the 2.Bundesliga outfit. Currently 16th in Germany’s second division, Bochum shouldn’t really challenge Bayern when the teams meet at the Ruhrstadion. However, a potentially weaker Bayern side and the Bavarians’ leaky defense could make this tie more open than initially thought. Bayern must make sure they are not complacent.
It’s old news now that Bayern will be without Niklas Süle and Lucas Hernandez for the foreseeable future. But now another one of Bayern’s centre-back options has been ruled out for this game: In Niko Kovac’s pre-match press conference, the Croat confirmed that Javi Martinez was still out of action after he suffered a knock during Bayern’s Champions League fixture with Olympiacos. Fortunately, however, Kovac also said that everyone one else would be available, including (now) backup CB option Lars Lukas Mai.
Now that injury news is out of the way, onto the lineups: at Striker, Robert Lewandowski should make another start as he looks to continue his imperious form as the world’s best 9. On the wings to support Lewandowski could be any combination of Alphonso Davies, Ivan Perisic, Serge Gnabry and Kinglsey Coman. Davies had a superb game as a fullback against Union Berlin, which gives him a strong case to start. Furthermore, Serge Gnabry might be rested again to make sure a knock he sustained is fully healed, while Kingsley Coman had a very poor performance against Union, making a start for him unlikely. However, Perisic and Davies are both much better when on the left side, so that’s also an unlikely winger combination.
For the midfield, the starter for the number 10 role will be a tossup between Thomas Muller, Phillipe Coutinho and Leon Goretzka. The Raumdeuteur is the most likely option due to his recent good performances, and Coutinho has looked in need of a rest during Bayern’s last games. Even so, that doesn’t mean Goretzka won’t start. Kovac strongly indicated that Bayern’s number 18 would play at least some part in the match and that will likely come as one of the members of the double pivot. For Goretzka’s partner, Corentin Tolisso and Michael Cuisnanse are viable options, but the choice will probably go to Thiago, who had a superb outing against Union.
We could see the 4-1-4-1 shape back in action — a lineup which could accommodate both Coutinho and Muller, although this is unlikely. Another possibility is for Kovac to utilize this game against weaker opposition by starting some players or combinations that aren’t realistic in games against higher quality teams — such as a Cuisanse start or a formation with three at the back.
At the back line, a defense compromising of David Alaba, Jerome Boateng, Benjamin Pavard and Joshua Kimmich looks to be the most likely. However, this is a risky strategy considering that these four players are Bayern’s only fit, established defenders. As a result, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Davies at LB again (if not on the wing) or Lars Lukas Mai make a surprise start at the heart of the defense. Finally, at goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer will probably get another start. Still, a Sven Ulreich start woudn’t be too surprising as this is exactly the type of game where Kovac can afford him the start.
Due to these factors, here’s how we at BFW think Bayern will line up vs Bochum: