With qualification to the Champions League Round of 16 now secured, Bayern Munich will spend the rest of the Hinrunde focused on the Bundesliga. Bayer Leverkusen have somehow managed to pull together one of the greatest ever starts by a team in the league’s history, up there with the likes of Pep Guardiola and Jupp Heynckes.
For Tuchel, who has already been knocked out of one cup competition, returning to #1 spot in the table is important to keep the fans appeased and the media at bay, saying nothing about the confidence of the dressing room itself.
Joshua Kimmich is set to serve the second of his two-game red card suspension while Jamal Musiala suffered a hamstring strain vs Galatasaray — they will both sit this one out. Aside from them, the only regular starter not present for the Heidenheim game will be Matthijs de Ligt, who suffered a knee injury in the defeat to Saarbrücken.
In terms of the lineup, Harry Kane will certainly start up front, paired with Thomas Müller for a change — necessitating some reshuffling of the team shape, according to the coach. Serge Gnabry could return to the XI after a long absence, possibly in the place of Kingsley Coman on the right, with Leroy Sané starting on the left.
19-year-old youth teamer Aleksander Pavlović could make his starting XI debut in midfield, as Tuchel made it clear he see sees the youngster as a serious option in place of Joshua Kimmich. He would likely be paired with Leon Goretzka, as Konrad Laimer may be needed elsewhere.
That leaves the defense, unfortunately with very few options available. Raphaël Guerreiro is finally fit but unlikely to start, leaving a potential backline consisting of Alphonso Davies, Kim Min-jae, Dayot Upamecano, and Noussair Mazraoui — the same one we’ve gotten used to over the past few weeks. With Manuel Neuer behind them, the starting XI could end up looking like this:
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