Just five matchdays into the new season, and we have our first banana-peel fixture. On the surface, playing a newly promoted team like 1. FC Köln following a Champions League fixture might not seem too difficult for a team like Bayern Munich, but Köln are not your typical newly-promoted side. Given how they played against Borussia Dortmund a few weeks ago, Niko Kovac and his men will have to bring their A-game.
Bayern have two clear-cut absences heading into the game — David Alaba and Leon Goretzka (both thigh injuries). In addition, Niko Kovac mentioned that Lucas Hernandez, Kingsley Coman, and Joshua Kimmich all had a few niggling issues in training, but they should be ready to go.
Given what we know, it’s easy to guess most of the lineup. Robert Lewandowski will start up top, with Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry on the flanks. There’s a small chance that Ivan Perisic could get his second start in a row if Kovac wants to rest Coman for a bit, and an even smaller chance that Alphonso Davies could get his first ever start in the Bundesliga. However, those situations are pretty unlikely — it’ll probably just be the “Conabry combo.”
In midfield, we’re going to get Thiago Alcantara paired up with either Corentin Tolisso or Joshua Kimmich in a dual pivot. Who it could be is anyone’s guess. There’s also the question of whether Philippe Coutinho or Thomas Müller will play. Given that the Brazilian started in midweek, one would expect Müller to reprise his role in this game — but given that Kovac was all praises for Coutinho in his press conference, it seems like he will enjoy his second consecutive start in a Bayern jersey.
The defensive structure will be affected by what happens in midfield. Assuming that Tolisso plays, we can expect a back-four consisting of Lucas Hernandez at left back, Benjamin Pavard and Niklas Sule in central defense, and Joshua Kimmich at right back. If Kimmich is moved to midfield, Pavard will move to fill the RB position, leaving Jerome Boateng at center back. In addition, if Lucas cannot start, you could potentially see Alphonso Davies at left back.
Given all the possibilities, here are some potential lineups:
️ #Kovac on #FCBKOE: "The lads are in good form and are at a top level physically. We really want to win this game." #packmas pic.twitter.com/x6cHbLjCj9— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) September 19, 2019
According to Bild, Lucas Hernandez might indeed have to sit this game out with ankle problems, meaning that Alphonso Davies will get his first start in the Bundesliga. This could be a huge opportunity for the youngster.
Now Bild says that Hernandez took part in the team's final training session and is expected to feature. Oh well, maybe Davies will make a cameo later.