After keeping Liverpool at bay in midweek, Bayern Munich return to the Bundesliga to pick up on the pursuit of Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table. Hertha Berlin stand in their way — the same team who handed Niko Kovac his first defeat as Bayern coach.
The team must try to catch up to first place, but plenty of players will need rest as well. How will Kovac handle the situation?
Let’s start with the defense. In his pregame press conference, the coach confirmed that Mats Hummels was out with an illness. In his absence, Jerome Boateng is expected to return to the starting XI. The German international missed the game with gastrointestinal issues, but he has made a complete recovery.
Corentin Tolisso, meanwhile, still continues to work on his comeback from injury. He’s not likely to become available until March. It is not known whether Leon Goretzka has completely recovered from the ankle injury that kept him out against Liverpool, but if he has, expect him to return to the lineup. Javi Martinez will probably be the man sidelined if that is case — the coach admitted that he may not be suited for a more offensive gameplan.
Kovac didn’t mention Arjen Robben in his press conference, so we can assume that he’s still doubtful. Therefore, this could be the perfect time to introduce Alphonso Davies to the starting lineup.
The Canadian has shown bursts of talent in his cameos so far, and Hertha Berlin aren’t as much of an attacking threat, so they won’t punish mistakes made on the wing as often. With Arjen Robben potentially still out, and both Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman (esp. Coman) in desperate need of rest, this would be the perfect opportunity for some game time.
Thomas Muller is likely to come back into the starting lineup, at the expense of James Rodriguez. The Colombian has put in some decidedly mixed performances as of late, and he could probably use the rest.
Without further ado, here’s how we think Bayern Munich will line up against Hertha Berlin:
#Kovac: "We're still in the running in all three competitions and want to keep it that way. Only wins count and that's what I'm expecting against @HerthaBSC_EN."#packmas #FCBBSC pic.twitter.com/ZzhqbFTqBt— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) February 21, 2019