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How should Bayern Munich line up in their final three games of the season?

How do you balance out giving minutes to reserves and chasing down records?

FC Bayern München v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images

Bayern Munich have won the Bundesliga for the tenth year in a row with a 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund. But now what? We still have three games left in the season. What happens in those games?

Coach Julian Nagelsmann has already said that he plans to give minutes to players who haven’t played that much this season, with the likes of Josip Stanišić, Gabriel Vidović, and Paul Wanner specifically being mentioned. Players like Tanguy Nianzou, Malik Tillman, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Jamal Musiala, and Marc Roca are also candidates to play a bit more in the next three games.

But it would not be prudent to suddenly field a pre-season friendly lineup in all three games, nor would it be respectful to the other teams. What’s more, Bayern are still chasing down some records - to break the 100 goal mark (currently at 92), and to keep the best defensive record in the league. According to a report from 90min, it’s highly unlikely that Nagelsmann will change four to five players in the starting lineup anyway. So how does one balance out giving time to the reserves and ending the season on a high note?

Well, if I were Nagelsmann, here’s how I would approach the next three games, and how I would line up for each of them.

Mainz (Away)

This probably has the lowest stakes of the remaining three games. Mainz are safe from relegation, and are not fighting for a European spot. They sit right in the middle of the table in ninth place. Indeed, the lack of motivation seems to show in Bo Svensson’s side, who are winless in their last five games. If anything, this is a perfect game to experiment in. Low pressure, just after winning the title, it’s time for a breath of fresh air.

So if I were Nagelsmann, I’d go with full rotation. Rest as many starters as possible. I’d even leave the three captains (Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller, Robert Lewandowski) out of the away trip. Lord knows they deserve a break. Reserves, suit up, a lot of you are going to start this game. Paul Wanner misses out, though, due to a U-19 Bundesliga game scheduled on the same day.

Starting XI: Ulreich - Stanišić, Süle, Nianzou, Richards - Sabitzer, Roca - Tillman, Musiala Vidović - Choupo-Moting

Bench: Früchtl - Upamecano, Pavard, Kimmich, Gnabry, Goretzka, Sané, Davies, Hernandez

Stuttgart (Home)

The final home game of the season is always a special one, especially since this is the game that Bayern gets presented with the Meisterschale afterwards. Nagelsmann will want his team to put in a strong performance in front of the home fans for the last time this season. I would go with a strong lineup. Stuttgart are in a relegation battle, and it would be disrespectful to undermine their efforts with a B-team.

The lineup presents few, if any, surprises. The only surprise would be Jamal Musiala starting on the wing, but other than that, it’s a pretty solid lineup. That said, if the game goes swimmingly and we build up a big enough lead, I’d be more than willing to give some fresher legs a run out.

Starting XI: Neuer - Pavard, Upamecano, Hernandez, Davies - Kimmich, Goretzka - Musiala, Müller, Sané - Lewandowski

Bench: Ulreich - Süle, Coman, Choupo-Moting, Wanner, Sabitzer, Roca, Vidović, Stanišić

Wolfsburg (Away)

We come to the final game of the season, another low stake match. Wolfsburg have all but secured their place in the top flight after a 5-0 drubbing of poor Mainz, and will most likely also be playing for nothing come the final matchday. But this game could well be important for Bayern, as it could be the game that determines whether they can break their goalscoring record or not. Plus, it’s always good to end the season on a strong note, so that the fans and the team can enter the summer break with a good aftertaste.

For those two reasons, this game’s lineup is also pretty strong, albeit slightly more rotated than the Stuttgart game. Again, should the scoreline be safe enough, the reserves will come on to shine.

Starting XI: Neuer - Stanišić, Süle, Hernandez, Davies - Kimmich, Goretzka - Gnabry, Müller, Musiala - Lewandowski

Bench: Ulreich - Upamecano, Pavard, Coman, Choupo-Moting, Wanner, Roca, Nianzou, Tillman

These game plans should give ample time for the likes of Vidović, Wanner, Tillman, and Stanišić, while giving some extra minutes to Roca, Nianzou, and Choupo-Moting as well. It should also provide some good effort in winning the final two games and scoring as much as possible. Eight more goals are needed in the last three games to reach 100 goals, with an extra two more needed to break the goalscoring record set in 1971/72 by Bayern themselves.

Of course, all of this is purely hypothetical, and it remains to be seen what kind of teams Nagelsmann will roll out for the final games of the season. Whatever the case may be, the fans can only hope that the season ends on a high note, preferably with three wins out of three.

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