The UEFA Champions League is back on TV, and Bayern Munich have it all to do on the very first matchday. Atletico Madrid travel to the Allianz Arena with one goal in mind — making Hansi Flick’s life a living hell. With Leroy Sane still absent from the squad, how will the Bavarians break down the toughest defense in Europe?
Aside from Leroy Sane and Tanguy Nianzou, Hansi Flick has a full squad at his disposal. That means we could get to see Robert Lewandowski up top as usual, with Thomas Muller supporting him from the second striker position. This duo has been on fire this season, so it’ll fascinating to watch how they deal with the resolute defense Simeone doubtless plans to deploy.
As for the wingers — Serge Gnabry was substituted early against Arminia Bielefeld, so that probably means he will start against Atleti. Kingsley Coman meanwhile played almost the full 90, so it’s likely he will be rested for Douglas Costa. The addition of the Brazilian has really added much-needed depth and quality to Hansi’s attack — he gets to rotate in a big match like this without worrying about a drop off in quality.
The midfield is a little bit questionable. We still don’t know whether Joshua Kimmich will be able to participate, as his partner is expecting the birth of his second child. Assuming Josh Jr. can wait a couple more days, we should see Flick go with Kimmich and Leon Goretzka in the pivot. If Josh can’t play, then maybe expect to see Corentin Tolisso start. He might’ve earned a red card on the weekend, but that doesn’t apply for European games.
Now finally, the defense. There’s a bit of a debate about whether Alphonso Davies has fallen out of favor at Bayern Munich. This is because Flick seems to prefer Lucas Hernandez at left-back lately, and he’s been making some ambiguous statements to the media about the current pecking order. However, I think this is just a case of a coach managing a young player carefully, and Alphonso Davies will be in the starting lineup tomorrow. How long he’ll play is up for debate, but he should be in the XI.
As for the rest of the backline — Lucas Hernandez is a prime candidate to start. As a former Atleitco man, he will have extra motivation to perform against the likes of Luis Suarez and Joao Felix on the Madrid side. Niklas Sule is the perfect partner for him, and Benjamin Pavard is the most likely candidate to start at right-back. Manuel Neuer, as captain and goalkeeper, will lead the team from the back.
So, without further ado, here’s how the lineup should look like:
- David Alaba instead of Alphonso Davies, with Lucas moving to the left-back position.
- Kingsley Coman instead of either Serge Gnabry or Douglas Costa.
- Corentin Tolisso or Marc Roca instead of Joshua Kimmich if the latter has to miss the game.
Well, bad news for everyone: Serge Gnabry has tested positive for covid-19. He will go into quarantine for two weeks. All the players will need to be restested now. No word on how this affects the game.