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Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich: Lineups, team news, Nagelsmann’s missing midfield, and more! (Updated)

Imagine having a midfield. Couldn’t be our club.

FC Bayern Muenchen v RB Leipzig - Bundesliga for DFL Photo by Simon Hofmann/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

So ghost games are back in Germany, though the Signal Iduna Park won’t be quite as ghostly as it could’ve been. Bayern Munich are set face Borussia Dortmund in front of just 15,000 fans — more of a yellow fence than a yellow wall. Still, away games against BVB are always tough, and Julian Nagelsmann has some unique tactical challenges to deal with.

Let’s take a look at how things are shaping up ...

Team news

The news is not great for Bayern. Marcel Sabitzer (calf) and Joshua Kimmich (quarantine) are both ruled out, while Leon Goretzka only has a 60% chance of being fit for the game. Bayern II youngster Gabriel Vidovic was planned to join the first team for this game, but got injured before he could make it, while Josip Stanisic remains out due to a thigh muscle injury.

On the Dortmund end, Erling Haaland will likely be fit enough to either start the game or come off the bench. Thorgan Hazard is also out due to the same reason as Kimmich, while Raphael Guerreiro has muscular problems.

So with all that out of the way, let’s talk about the lineup. Starting from the top, we’ll have Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller, with Leroy Sane on the left and Kingsley Coman on the right. Serge Gnabry has fallen out of favor with the coach lately, and may have to start on the bench.

The midfield is the tricky one, since both Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka are all but confirmed out. Nagelsmann might say otherwise in his press conference, but Goretzka hasn’t been able to complete a single full training session this week, and is clearly struggling with something — it would be irresponsible for him to start a game as big as BVB when he’s not fully fit.

So what are the alternatives? Well, according to reports in Germany, Nagelsmann has been testing Jamal Musiala and Corentin Tolisso in a dual pivot during training this week, so that may be the coach’s chosen solution. It won’t be the first time Musiala’s featured in a pivot — he played there under Flick last season when Kimmich was injured — but Nagelsmann seems to be prepping the youngster for a much more demanding role. Can Musiala rise to the occasion? We’ll just have to wait and see.

As for the defense — it’s looking like Benjamin Pavard will finally be benched for Niklas Sule at right-back. This is based on nothing except my intense personal dislike of Benjamin Pavard (and a short report by kicker). The rest of the back line basically chooses itself. Alphonso Davies at left-back, Lucas Hernandez at left center-back, and Dayot Upamecano at right center-back. They’ll all be tasked with defending against the force of nature that is Erling Haaland, and frankly I don’t envy them. Of course, there’s always Manuel Neuer as the last line of defense. If all else fails, the duty falls to the captain.

So here’s what the lineup should look like:


Update

Serge Gnabry had to cut training short. He wasn’t expected to start, but this might throw a wrench in whatever gameplan Nagelsmann had.

In any case, he still traveled with the team to Dortmund.


Update #2

Here’s what Bild thinks the lineup could be like:


By the way, we happen to have a podcast on all things Bayern Munich, where we did a special-edition preview of this game. In case you want more details, why not check it out?

As always, thanks for listening!