It’s officially official. The DFL has announced that the Bundesliga will resume next weekend, on May 16th, and Bayern Munich’s first match of the restart will be at Union Berlin on the 17th. Bayern’s remaining 9 matches will be played in a truncated schedule, as they’ll be playing a match every 3-5 days with their last match scheduled for Saturday, June 27th against VfL Wolfsburg. Meanwhile, UEFA has also announced preliminary plans for how the Champions League will resume, and Bayern’s second leg against Chelsea should take place in the beginning of August. Of course, the scheduling format for the remainder of the Bundesliga matches has its pros and cons for every team, but there are a lot of places where Bayern could benefit.
The remaining Bundesliga schedule for Bayern:
Who's ready for some ⚽⁉️— FC Bayern US (@FCBayernUS) May 7, 2020
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The title contenders: A momentum reset?
For Bayern and their immediate rivals for the Bundesliga title, the spread of matches for opponents (currently) in the top six is pretty even. Bayern still has to face Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen, and Borussia Monchengladbach having already played both Schalke and RB Leipzig twice. Dortmund still has to play Schalke, Bayern, and Leipzig and starting their restart with the rivierderby is no easy task. For Leipzig, however, Dortmund is the only team in the top 6 they have left to play. Leverkusen, ‘Gladbach and Schalke all still have at least 2 matches left against top 6 sides.
Bayern currently has a 4 point lead at the top of the table, which places added importance on their der Klassiker match-up at the end of May, especially if Dortmund win their opening 2 matches. Hansi Flick will certainly be hoping his side pick up right where they left off as they were in a fantastic run of form before the corona crisis put everything on hold. They hadn’t lost a league match since the beginning of December against ‘Gladbach and they’d won 10 of their last 11 matches. Not to mention, advancing to the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal and hammering Chelsea 3-0 in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16. The pandemic put an end to Bayern’s excellent momentum, but what kind of form were their direct challengers in? Was Bayern in the best momentum out of the top 4?
Last 10 league matches:
Dortmund: DLWWWLWWWW (knocked out of Champions League by PSG)
Looking at the overall context of form from the top four teams, it’s clear that Bayern was on the strongest, most consistent run of form before the pandemic ended everything indefinitely. The extended pause in matches has given all of the challengers a reset and a chance to get back on track, so it’s Bayern’s title to lose if recent form is any sort of barometer.
Bayern the best suited in squad depth for expected rotations?
Never before have we seen a Bundesliga schedule like this in recent times. Managers will be forced to plan their match squads and rotations down to the very last detail and injuries could likely be more prevalent with such quick turnarounds between matches. Bayern is no stranger to being hampered with injuries pretty much every season, but Flick does have the luxury of depth in nearly every position that could give Bayern an advantage over other clubs.
Niklas Sule, Philippe Coutinho, and Corentin Tolisso are all currently on Bayern’s injury list, but there’s still depth in every position.
The back four of Alphonso Davies, David Alaba, Jerome Boateng, and Benjamin Pavard has worked absolute wonders under Flick. Their consistency has been key, but with so many matches in a short period of time, Flick may have to make some tweaks to the back line at times. Of course, he’ll have Lucas Hernandez, Javi Martinez, Alvaro Odriozola, Lars Lukas Mai, and Sule (once he’s fit) at his disposal to make rotations as necessary. Hernandez could play either as a center back or wide left back, which makes him an effective auxiliary option.
Right now, Tolisso and Coutinho are the only midfield absentees, so this is the area where Flick has the most freedom. He’s shown a preference to starting Thomas Muller, Serge Gnabry, Thiago Alcantara, Joshua Kimmich, and Kingsley Coman as the 5 midfield players behind Robert Lewandowski, but any of those positions are interchangeable. Kimmich has been the de facto number 6, holding midfielder, which has given Thiago the proper freedom to be more involved in Bayern’s attack, but Flick still has plenty of options. He always has Leon Goretzka and Javi Martinez to use in the center of midfield and Ivan Perisic to bring on either flank. Of course, we could even see youngsters Joshua Zirkzee and/or Sarpreet Singh as center forwards or attacking midfielders, though it’s not something we’ve seen very often.
Let’s be honest. When Lewandowski is fully fit, he should always be the starting striker for Bayern, but the fixture congestion will likely warrant rests for him and he’s also one yellow card away from having to serve a one match suspension. Not to worry, though - Flick has options. Zirkzee, Gnabry, Muller, and Fiete Arp could all fill in for the Polish ace when necessary, especially assuming it will only be in circumstances where Lewandowski is being given a rest or being subbed off in matches where he’s no longer needed. There should be zero doubt that Flick has the right plans in place to utilize the depth in attack when Lewy isn’t involved.
Let us know what you think about Bayern’s schedule in the comments section!