Bayern Munich has a tendency to bounce back strongly from defeats, which is a good thing because you can’t afford slip ups in the Champions League. RB Salzburg may not be one of the tournament favorites, but they deserve their place among Europe’s top 16 teams, which is more than you can say for any of Bayern’s competitors in the Bundesliga.
Julian Nagelsmann knows he has to change tactics. But what, exactly, will he do?
Manuel Neuer (knee), Leon Goretzka (knee), and Alphonso Davies (myocarditis) are all ruled out of this game (and many others). Jamal Musiala is in quarantine after catching COVID so he’s out as well. That’s four key players who all could’ve started, which won’t help Nagelsmann choose a starting XI. Thankfully, he has a squad full of good (or at least decent) backups. It’s debatable whether he sees it that way, though.
As usual, we expect Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski to start up top. The lineup will probably be another variant of the back-three that we saw against RB Leipzig, so all three of Kingsley Coman, Serge Gnabry, and Leroy Sane will be expected to play. One will have to be a wingback in this setup, which is risky given Salzburg’s wealth of attacking options. However, Nagelsmann was adamant in his press conference that he wouldn’t compromise on his offense-first approach, so don’t expect Bayern to keep a clean sheet in tomorrow’s game.
The midfield is something of a mystery, given that there are no good options to partner up with Joshua Kimmich. Corentin Tolisso seems like the obvious choice, but Marcel Sabitzer has been improving in recent games and has a much better track record than the Frenchman if you disregard his Bayern performances. Marc Roca is somewhere in the mix, but very unlikely to start. Honestly, given that Champions League games are not the place where you want to experiment, we’ll assume that Kimmich and Tolisso will start together in midfield on Wednesday.
The defense is where all the problems lie at the moment, and it’s tough to see how it can get better. Nagelsmann will probably go with a back-three, which means putting Lucas Hernandez, Niklas Sule, and Benjamin Pavard together in the center. They’ll be tasked with containing Marcus Jaissle’s free-scoring Salzburg side, including the dangerous Karim Adeyemi. Dayot Upamecano, who’s currently in a bit of a rut, will probably sit this one out.
With Bayern missing their captain, Sven Ulreich will step up between the sticks. Here’s what the lineup should look like:
Bild predicts (gasp) a back four!
Salzburg vs Bayern | Possible lineups [Bild] pic.twitter.com/tghHguPvmr— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) February 15, 2022