The DFB Pokal is back! Bayern Munich are still in pursuit of the domestic double, something that hasn’t been won since Pep Guardiola was manager, and this time Werder Bremen stand in the way. It took a lucky strike from Niklas Sule to down Die Werderaner at the Allianz Arena, so what will the team do against them on their own turf?
Let’s take a look at what the coach might have planned:
Manuel Neuer (calf) and Arjen Robben (lord knows what he’s injured at the moment) will certainly miss the game, as confirmed by Niko Kovac in his press conference. Niklas Sule got a red card against Heidenheim in the last round of the Pokal, so he’s suspended. With Mats Hummels and James Rodriguez having returned to training, those are the only major absences for the club.
With that being said, Niko Kovac said he was going to stick with the formula that beat Borussia Dortmund 5-0 in the Klassiker. That means putting Robert Lewandowski at striker, supported by Thomas Muller in the hole and Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry on the flanks. James, while fit, is unlikely to start, as Kovac explained that the Colombian was dropped due to tactical reasons against BVB.
Thiago Alcantara and Javi Martinez will likely be the go-to pairing in midfield, because of the following reasons:
- They started against Dortmund and were very successful.
- Kovac said he expects a more aggressive counterattacking performance from Bremen in front of their own fans, so Javi’s talents at defensive midfield may be far more important this time around.
Having Leon Goretzka on the bench will be a huge boost, as he can come on as an offensive sub if the going gets tough and the Bavarians fall behind. However, the chances of him (or any other midfielder, like Renato Sanches or Corentin Tolisso) starting are slim to nonexistent.
As for the defense, with Niklas Sule suspended, we will almost certainly see a center back pairing of Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels, provided that Hummels is completely fit. David Alaba will be the man to play at left back while Joshua Kimmich will play at right back, and Sven Ulreich will be in goal in the place of Manuel Neuer.
So, without further ado, here’s how we think Bayern Munich will line up in the DFB Pokal:
Literally all of Bayern’s games in the cup this season have been utter slog-fests regardless of the opposition, so expect this one to be similar. Hopefully, the team can muster the concentration to not make any stupid mistakes for an entire 90 for a change, but I wouldn’t count on it.
UPDATE: 10:10AM EST
Franck Ribery did not travel with the squad due to a “muscle injury” per Sky’s Torben Hoffmann.
Failure @FCBayern @FranckRibery with muscular problems! The Frenchman does not travel with me to Bremen @SkySportNewsHD @SkySportDE