The Champions League is back, and this time Hansi Flick and Bayern Munich travel to Belgrade to take on Red Star at their formidable home stadium. FK Crvena zvezda (as they are also known) beat Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool 2-0 at this very ground last season, so this may well be the sternest test of Flick’s managerial stint thus far.
With Red Star fighting for a spot in the Europa League and Bayern looking to secure top spot in the group, both teams will be have to be on their toes for this game.
In his press conference, Hansi Flick confirmed the availability of all players that featured against Fortuna Dusseldorf on Saturday, save for David Alaba who remained in Munich (don’t worry, it’s not an injury — his partner is expecting a baby). Jerome Boateng meanwhile returns to the squad, giving the coach a much-needed defensive boost given the long term injuries to both Lucas Hernandez and Niklas Sule.
So how will Bayern Munich line up? Well, the strike pairing of Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller is basically set in stone at this point, so expect them to start up top. Lewandowski’s form this season has been nothing short of unbelievable, while Muller is arguably Flick’s most important player. The coach was effusive in his praise for der Raumdeuter’s tactical nous in the press conference, branding him as the “extended arm of the coach”.
There’s some doubt about who will play on the wings. Philippe Coutinho started over Kingsley Coman on Saturday and did manage to score a goal, but was otherwise unimpressive. Serge Gnabry, meanwhile, has played non-stop for both Bayern and Germany for several weeks now and might be in need of a rest. Meanwhile, there’s also Ivan Perisic, who’s probably itching for a start at this point.
The lineup conundrums don’t end there, as there’s also the midfield to worry about. All four of Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Corentin Tolisso, and Thiago Alcantara will be looking to start, especially Thiago who has yet to garner a single start in the Flick era thus far. The coach made it clear that his decision to not start Thiago was a tactical one, saying that the Spaniard wasn’t performing too well and therefore Kimmich was chosen for added security.
However, Flick did sub off Kimmich in the second half of the Dusseldorf game, and Bayern ended the match with a dual pivot of Thiago and Goretzka. Was that a snapshot of things to come? Hansi Flick doesn’t seem like the kind of person to freeze a player out of the setup completely — perhaps the Red Star game will be Thiago’s chance to redeem himself.
Finally, in defense we know exactly who will start where, because Bayern have run out of defenders. Alphonso Davies will reprise his role at left back, while Jerome Boateng will return to the squad and take David Alaba’s place at center back. Javi Martinez and Benjamin Pavard will likely round out the defense, unless the coach wants to hand out a surprise start to Lars Lukas Mai (for some reason).
With that out out of the way, given what we know, here’s Bayern’s most likely lineup for tomorrow: