It’s been only three days since Bayern Munich last played a game, but the squad composition looks completely different now. The headline arrival is naturally Joao Cancelo, signed on a six-month loan deal from Manchester City, but also Marcel Sabitzer is going to miss the match as he completes a move to Manchester United this winter.
Julian Nagelsmann has been backed more than any Bayern coach in recent memory. Now it’s time for him to fight for trophies. The DFB-Pokal doesn’t allow any second chances — one mistake and you’re out. Even the Champions League isn’t this unforgiving. Against Mainz, Bayern Munich will have to find a level of performance that hasn’t been seen since the restart.
Not great, honestly. Aside from the long term absences of Noussair Mazraoui, Sadio Mane (back in training, though!), Lucas Hernandez, and Manuel Neuer, there are also reports that Joshua Kimmich and Dayot Upamecano are struggling with niggling issues that could affect their performance. They’ll probably still play, since according to Nagelsmann the problems are being “managed”, but it’s a worrying sign regardless. Meanwhile, Leon Goretzka is back after missing the Frankfurt game due to an unknown issue.
So, what will the starting XI look like? After his performance on the weekend, Thomas Muller is likely to reprise his role in the lineup behind Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who starts at striker. Leroy Sane and Jamal Musiala are the best two candidates for the wing, though Nagelsmann could feasibly choose any of the four wingers he has at his disposal.
The midfield is set in stone, which is one of the main factors behind Sabitzer’s decision to leave the club. Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka are set to start, and expect that to be the case for the rest of the season. Ryan Gravenberch may get a substitute appearance if he’s lucky.
The defense is where things get interesting. Cancelo could theoretically start the game on either the left or right-back positions, though the right seems like the problem area at the moment. However, starting just 24 hours after completing a transfer seems like a bit much for a highly complex role such as fullback. So expect Cancelo to wait for his chance, even though Florian Plettenberg says he was signed to start against Mainz.
With that settled, we could see the same backline from the Frankfurt game — Alphonso Davies and Josip Stanisic on the flanks, and Matthijs de Ligt paired with Dayot Upamecano in the center. Yann Sommer, who also had adductor problems over the last few days, is expected to start between the sticks.
Here’s what the lineup could look like:
Tz predicts Joao Cancelo to start at right-back.
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