With just two more games to go until the Champions League clash against Liverpool, Bayern Munich host Schalke 04 at the Allianz Arena. In a perfect world, this would be the time to try out new lineups in a bid to decide what would be best. However, after last week’s loss to Bayer Leverkusen, the Bavarians find themselves falling behind in the title race, and Niko Kovac can’t afford to get too experimental.
How will the coach handle this balancing act?
In the pregame press conference, Kovac confirmed that Arjen Robben would not be available for the game. The Dutchman continues to struggle with a thigh injury that has kept him out since November. In addition, Manuel Neuer is doubtful for the game — according to the coach, they don’t want to take any risks before Liverpool. In addition to these two, Corentin Tolisso continues to work on his ACL comeback.
So, how might the Bavarians line up? Well, Robert Lewandowski is sure to be leading the line. Who will slot in behind him is a bit of a mystery — it could be three out of the quintet of James Rodriguez, Thomas Muller, Kingsley Coman, Serge Gnabry, and Franck Ribery.
Considering that Muller will be suspended against Liverpool, it’s possible that he might sit this one out in favor of James Rodriguez, in order to give the Colombian more time with the team. Meanwhile, Kingsley Coman just played a full 120 minutes against Hertha Berlin in midweek, so there’s a decent possibility that he might be rested.
In midfield, Leon Goretzka will probably start next to Javi Martinez, with Thiago Alcantara maybe getting a rest. In defense, there’s a chance that Jerome Boateng might make it back into the squad, given Hummels’ howler in midweek. Aside from that, there should be no surprises in defense, with David Alaba, Joshua Kimmich, and Niklas Sule reprising their usual roles.
So how will Bayern line up? Here are our best guesses:
️ "I've already said that @jamesdrodriguez is an extraordinary player. We needed to ease him in somewhat after his injury, but when he is fit he plays like he did against Hertha: brilliantly! And that's the best argument for selecting him." #MiaSanMia pic.twitter.com/FJNSrxoM89— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) February 8, 2019