It’s not the Champions League, but at least it’s a game. Over a month since the Bundesliga ended, Bayern Munich return to action in their first (and only) friendly against Ligue 1 side Olypique de Marseille. The game will be an important litmus test for Hansi Flick, as he’ll seek to judge the readiness of his squad for the upcoming UCL campaign.
Hansi Flick has already stated that only players who are eligible for the Champions League will feature, so no chance of seeing Tanguy Nianzou or Leroy Sane in Bayern colors. However, given the significance of the upcoming games, plenty of folks will be tuning in to see how Bayern are shaping up after a three-week long break from football.
The big news is that Benjamin Pavard has injured his ankle and is likely to miss the rest of Bayern’s UCL season. This means that Hansi Flick has to rejig the entire lineup, given that the Bavarians have relied almost-exclusively on Pavard all season at right-back.
The changes are unlikely to affect the attack though, so let’s start from there. Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller are shoo-ins to start up top, with Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman flanking the duo. Given that this is a friendly, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Philippe Coutinho or Ivan Perisic make a substitute appearance in the second half, but the starters will be the ones who are sure to start against Chelsea in a week’s time.
Midfield is where the problems begin, as Joshua Kimmich is needed elsewhere. This means that Thiago Alcantara is virtually guaranteed to return to the lineup, alongside the recently bulked up Leon Goretzka. Goretzka and Thiago have plenty of experience working together from their time under Niko Kovac last season, but this will be the first time Bayern will use a pivot without Kimmich in a big game under Hansi Flick. How they stack up against Marseille’s midfield will help the coach determine what adjustments he should make to his tactics, because Bayern plays differently when Kimmich isn’t in the middle.
The defense is where things could get interesting. We’ve been operating on the premise that Kimmich will probably play at right-back, which keeps the changes to a minimum. Alphonso Davies would reprise his role at left-back, while David Alaba and Jerome Boateng could form the core of the center back partnership. While Niklas Sule is fit enough to train now, he’s unlikely to feature heavily because of a lack of match practice.
With that in mind, here’s how Bayern Munich are most likely going to line up against Marseille:
However, given the fact that it’s a friendly, we could also see some more esoteric setups. Here’s a few of them:
- A three-man backline of Lucas Hernandez, David Alaba, and Jerome Boateng.
- Niklas Sule at right back, with Kimmich staying in midfield.
- Chris Richards at right-back, like how he played for the U-23’s in the first half of the season.
- Lucas Hernandez at left-back, with Alphonso Davies moving to right-back (an inverted RB?).
- Lucas at left center back, with David Alaba at left-back and Alphonso Davies at right-back (or vice-versa).
As per kicker, Hansi Flick has confirmed that he’ll give Niklas Sule some time against Marseille to “collect minutes”. This doesn’t change our predicted lineup, but it’s good to hear he’s going to be back on the pitch after such a long layoff.
As we thought, according to Bild, Hansi Flick plans to replace the injured Benjamin Pavard with Joshua Kimmich.