After a hard-fought win over Galatasaray in midweek, Bayern Munich return home to host 12th placed SV Darmstadt this Saturday. The headline ticket this week is the return of Manuel Neuer to the starting XI after almost a year away from his duties as a goalkeeper.
Thomas Tuchel finally gets his designated captain and main goalkeeper back, but what will it actually change? That will likely depend on the rest of the squad — who’s fit, who’s out of favor, and who’s actually expected to play.
Unfortunately, the coach confirmed in his pregame presser that Dayot Upamecano, Raphaël Guerreiro, Leon Goretzka, and Serge Gnabry will all miss the game due to injuries (or in Gnabry’s case, an illness). Aside from the fact that Manuel Neuer will replace Sven Ulreich in the XI, Tuchel gave no hint as to whether there will be any rotation for this game vs Darmstadt.
Assuming that very little changes from the Galatasaray game, you can expect Bayern Munich to line up in a 4-2-3-1 with Harry Kane up top and Jamal Musiala behind him. Kingsley Coman and Leroy Sané have been the preferred winger options for some time now, leaving no space in the attack for Thomas Müller.
Tuchel actually mentioned Müller in his press conference, noting the player’s lack of minutes lately — however, he gave no indication that the veteran would get a start any time soon, saying that the players ahead of him were in good form. Müller’s participation is therefore 50-50, the Darmstadt game would be a good one for Tuchel to rotate his attack a little, but rotation has not been one of the coach’s strong suits since taking over the club.
In midfield, the only two fit midfielders are expected to play. Konrad Laimer and Joshua Kimmich were disappointingly ineffective in the Champions League on Tuesday — they need to do a lot better if Bayern are to have any semblance of control against Darmstadt. While nowhere near the Turkish Champions, even the 12th placed team in the Bundesliga can cause this team trouble if the midfield isn’t on point.
The defense is similarly barebones, with the only fit players expected to start. Matthijs de Ligt and Kim Min-jae are the main center-back pairing at the moment, with Alphonso Davies and Noussair Mazraoui flanking them on the left and right respectively. For once, they will have Manuel Neuer starting behind them — it remains to be seen whether the veteran keeper will play like his former self.
Here’s what that XI could look like:
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