The first half of the season is finally over, but that only means that there are 17 games left to go. Bayern Munich start the Ruckrunde with what should be a relatively soft opponent — a historically weak Schalke 04 side. This could be a good opportunity for Hansi Flick to test some youngsters against a wounded opponent, one that has one a single game in over a year.
However, if the old adage about wounded animals holds true, then Schalke might not be as easy as once thought.
In his pregame press conference, Hansi Flick confirmed that Corentin Tolisso would miss the game with muscular issues. He joins Tanguy Nianzou on the sidelines. Robert Lewandowski was subbed off against Augsburg, but apparently it was just a precaution and he’ll be ready to play. Meanwhile, Serge Gnabry is fit and back in the team.
So how will Bayern line up? Well, now would be a great time for rotation. However, given that the team’s form is still spotty at best, Hansi Flick may opt to at least give Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller an hour or so on the pitch. Flanking them will probably be Serge Gnabry and one other winger — possibly Douglas Costa, if Flick wants to rest Sane and Coman. However, Sane could use a confidence boost, so what better game to give him than the one against his former team?
The gist of it is that Flick has options in attack. Short of hiding in the bushes at the Sabener Strasse, we can’t know what he’s going to trot out on Sunday. The midfield, however, is a much easier thing to predict. You’ll probably see Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka in the middle, with a possible substitute appearance of Javi Martinez down the line. As for Marc Roca, I’ll let Jose Mourinho take that one.
What about the defense? Well, just like in the attack, Flick has options to explore. He could give Buona Sarr a run at right-back, or allow Niklas Sule back in the lineup. Richards played for Bayern II yesterday, so he’s not going to start against Schalke.
The coach also has the option to rest David Alaba, though that’s very unlikely to happen. And he may put Alphonso Davies back at left-back at Lucas Hernandez’s expense. Honestly, in a game like this, there are way too many possibilities. All we know for sure is that Manuel Neuer will be in goal.
So, with all that in mind, here’s how Bayern Munich might line up tomorrow:
- Jamal Musiala in for either of the wingers. Note: Flick mentioned his progress in the press conference — he wants to hang onto the youngster.
- Douglas Costa in for either of the wingers.
- Javi Martinez at defensive midfield, for either Goretzka or Kimmich.
- Jerome Boateng in for Niklas Sule in central defence.
- Buona Sarr in for Benjamin Pavard at right-back.