It’s been a week since the Bundesliga restarted, and Bayern Munich are still not quite free of the grips of a Covid-19 outbreak at the club. Some things have definitely improved — several players have returned to team training, for instance — but Julian Nagelsmann still has a severely depleted squad heading to Koln.
It’s mostly bad news. Here’s a rundown:
- Alphonso Davies has been ruled out for several weeks with myocarditis.
- Josip Stanisic and Kingsley Coman are both out with muscle problems.
- Lucas Hernandez is yet to exit quarantine.
- Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Buona Sarr are at AFCON.
- Leon Goretzka still has patellar tendon issues.
Out of the players who returned from quarantine, only Manuel Neuer is definitely ready to start. This presents a challenge for the coach, who must construct a viable lineup with most of his team still missing. Let’s talk about the XI.
The attack is the only part of the setup where there’s little to no ambiguity. Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller are set to start up top, with Serge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala most likely to flank the duo. Per Nagelsmann, Paul Wanner and Lucas Copado, the debutants against Gladbach, have earned themselves a spot on the bench.
In midfield, Marcel Sabitzer may be allowed to move back into the middle, perhaps alongside Corentin Tolisso. The other option would be a dual pivot between Tolisso and Roca, with Sabitzer being moved to the left-back spot. This would only be necessary if Omar Richards isn’t yet fit enough to start at left-back, which we don’t know for sure yet. Until his surprise diagnosis today, it was looking likely that Alphonso Davies would be able to make it back in time to face Koln.
In defense, Dayot Upamecano still isn’t 100% fit, so Benjamin Pavard and Niklas Sule will be expected to start at center-back. Omar Richards will hopefully be good to go at fullback — if not, then Marcel Sabitzer would have to play there instead. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, because the Austrian was woeful in that position last week. Joshua Kimmich, meanwhile, will have to start at right-back. Let’s hope he and Gnabry show a little bit more penetration down that flank.
Manuel Neuer, meanwhile, returns to his goalkeeping duties following quarantine. He will also be donning the captain’s armband, and probably carrying a megaphone on-hand to scream at his defense when they screw up. Here’s what an XI could look like:
Bild had pretty much the same idea as us.
Omar Richards is the first alternative to replace Davies, but is not fully fit yet. If he doesn't make it, Nagelsmann is considering playing Sabitzer at left-back again, although he didn't have a good performance against Gladbach there [Bild] https://t.co/Yqx0nKgVFp— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) January 14, 2022