Bayern Munich, already facing an uphill battle for this year’s Bundesliga crown, is heading into a gauntlet of games that may define its season.
This Saturday, they’ll host regular boogeymen Gladbach, and next week travel to league leaders Leverkusen. After just three days’ rest, it’s then onto Lazio, away, in the Champions League Round of 16.
A hidden dynamic in the Bundesliga race: player availability.
Bayern is already running on fumes thanks to recent injuries and players either at or just returning from this month’s AFCON and Asian Cup tournaments. Now two of the key players in the lineup are on yellow card watch, as noted by kicker journalist Georg Holzner.
Those players? Winger Leroy Sané and defender Matthijs de Ligt.
Sané, of course, has been a key figure in attack for Bayern all season. De Ligt, meanwhile, is for the moment an irreplaceable cog in Thomas Tuchel’s defense — at least so long as Kim Min-jae is logging minutes for South Korea under former USMNT coach Jürgen Klinsmann. South Korea is playing Australia in the quarter-final early Friday morning, Eastern Time.
Both players earned their fourth yellows of the Bundesliga campaign last weekend in a 3-2 away victory over Augsburg. Now they will each have something extra to think about with every challenge against Gladbach.