After a long summer of waiting, Bayern Munich finally return to action this Friday against Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga opener. While the squad has undergone unfortunately few changes since last last season, Niko Kovac still has some key decisions he will need to make regarding the composition of his lineup.
Bayern Munich start the season with an almost-full squad. Javi Martinez is the only injured player on the roster and is expected to miss out due to knee problems. New signing Ivan Perisic will serve a one-game ban due to cards accumulated last season in Serie A, so the Croatian will have to wait a while longer for his debut in Bavarian red. Speaking of debuts — Lucas Hernandez is also unlikely to start, given that he only joined team training last week.
With all that out of the way, let’s look at Niko Kovac’s options. He will most like start a front three of Kingsley Coman, Robert Lewandowski, and Serge Gnabry, given Gnabry’s return to full fitness. In case Gnabry is not yet ready for a start, then Thomas Muller should be expected to take his place.
In midfield, the coach has a number of choices to make. Judging by preseason lineups, Kovac will likely opt for a midfield three consisting of Thiago Alcantara as the holding midfielder and Renato Sanches and Leon Goretzka as the left and right central midfielders respectively. However, Corentin Tolisso could also feature in place of Sanches, in case doubts still linger in the coach’s mind about the youngster.
As for defense — 3 out of four spots are already accounted for. David Alaba, Joshua Kimmich, and Niklas Süle are all expected to reprise their usual roles as left back, right back, and center back respectively. The question is who will partner Süle. With Lucas presumably out of the running, Jerome Boateng is the obvious candidate because of his experience, although Benjamin Pavard has been the standout performer in preseason.
Given what we know, here are our best guesses as to how Bayern will line up in their first game of the league season: