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VfB Stuttgart vs Bayern Munich: Lineups, team news, Flick’s defensive dilemma, and more! (Update: Sule travels with the team)

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Manuel Neuer is begging for a clean sheet. Can the defense deliver?

FC Bayern Muenchen - Press Conference And Training Session Photo by Handout/FC Bayern via Getty Images

Doing these lineup articles twice a week a week is really making it hard to keep things fresh and interesting. This time round, Bayern Munich face VfB Stuttgart at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, with a single point separating them from Borussia Dortmund in second place.

Stuttgart have been good against the upper half of the Bundesliga this season, having managed draws against Hoffenheim, Bayer Leverkusen, and Eintracht Frankfurt. Coming fresh off a draw with Werder Bremen, Bayern will need to be wary of dropping points for a second matchday in a row.

Team news

Let’s start with some good news — according to Hansi Flick, Leroy Sane is 100% fit, and both Corentin Tolisso and Benjamin Pavard will be in the squad tomorrow. Tanguy Nianzou is also in the squad, but he’s not 100% fit following his injury. Speaking of fitness, Niklas Sule still isn’t confirmed for tomorrow’s game on account of his “training deficit”. Whether Bayern’s BFG will travel with the squad tomorrow depends on the final training session.

So let’s talk about the lineup. As always, expect Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller up top. The winger support is harder to predict — maybe Flick will decide to give Kingsley Coman a rest and start Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry on the flanks. Or maybe it will be Gnabry and Douglas Costa, with Sane coming on as a super-sub like before. I’m partial to the latter option myself — Sane as a sub is a Robben regen. He’s been disappointing when he starts.

In midfield — Corentin Tolisso is back in the squad, so he may start alongside Leon Goretzka in a pivot. Marc Roca did well against RB Salzburg (red card notwithstanding) but there’s a decent chance Flick will want the young Spaniard to tighten up his game more before starting him in a league game. Javi Martinez is another option for the DM position, especially if Tolisso isn’t fit to start. A destroyer like Javi would help Bayern’s leaky defense keep a clean sheet tomorrow.

Finally, we have the defense. With Alphonso Davies still out injured, Lucas Hernandez is the only real candidate to start at left-back. Chris Richards cut a poor figure out on the left versus Salzburg, and for some reason Flick seems loath to move David Alaba back to his original poisition.

At center back, Alaba is likely to partner up with Jerome Boateng, given that Sule’s fitness is still questionable. Sitting on the bench for a third game in a row wouldn’t help the rumors about Sule’s contract situation, but if he really is overweight, there’s nothing else the coach can do. Remember that Sule has had two ACL injuries in his career already — he needs to be managed more carefully than the average player.

At right-back, Benjamin Pavard is fit and probably raring to go against his former team. The Frenchman came off against Salzburg with ankle issues, but Flick confirmed that he would be ready for tomorrow — hopefully we see a masterclass on part with last season. If not, there’s still Manuel Neuer, the last bastion for Bayern’s leaky defense. There’s no telling how many goals we would’ve conceded without him this season — he’s the MVP so far.

So here’s the lineup that Bayern might use against Stuttgart tomorrow:

Other options:

  • Chris Richards in for Benjamin Pavard at right-back, to save Pavard for Atletico.
  • Niklas Sule in for Jerome Boateng, if fit.
  • Jamal Musiala starting on the wing. Hey, its possible.

Update

According to Bild, Sule will travel with the team tomorrow. That means there’s an outside chance that he could start.