Will Bayern Munich win the Bundesliga? Most years, you’d answer that question with a resounding “yes”, even at the beginning of February. Only this isn’t most years. Under Xabi Alonso, Bayer Leverkusen have posted an unbeaten start to the season which sees them two points ahead of the Bavarians heading into Saturday’s decisive clash at the BayArena.
Thomas Tuchel needs to win. If he can’t, he risks becoming the first Bayern Munich coach in over a decade to lose the Bundesliga.
Bayern Munich have a long list of injuries heading into this game. While Joshua Kimmich, Dayot Upamecano, and Kim Min-jae are back in the squad, Alphonso Davies, Konrad Laimer, Kingsley Coman, and Serge Gnabry are all out. New signing Bryan Zaragoza also missed training with a flu. Manuel Neuer, who spent much of the week sidelined due to a knee issue, managed to train with the team on Friday, so he should be good to go.
So, with that in mind, what kind of lineup can we expect? Well, assuming that Tuchel is planning no surprises, we will probably see Harry Kane up top, flanked by Jamal Musiala and Leroy Sané, with Thomas Müller in the attacking midfield position.
Joshua Kimmich could return to the starting XI in the place of Aleksandar Pavlović, while Leon Goretzka retains his spot in midfield. This will doubtless be disappointing to many fans, as Pavlovic has proven himself a capable presence in the middle of the park during Kimmich’s absence. Maybe Tuchel will choose to trust the youngster instead, or go off-script and choose a Kimmich-Pavlović pivot. It’s hard to guess, but the coach did not hint at any experiments planned for the game on Saturday.
At the back, some rumors claim that Tuchel might use Noussair Mazraoui as a left-back to replace the injured Alphonso Davies. However, he already has a natural left-back replacement in Raphaël Guerreiro, so it’s hard to see why he would experiment with the Moroccan out of position in the biggest game of the season.
Kim Min-jae could slot into the backline in place of Eric Dier, given that he’s match fit having been playing games for South Korea in the Asian Cup. In contrast, Matthijs de Ligt may be preferred over Dayot Upamecano, giving the Frenchman more time to get back up to speed following his injury.
With Manuel Neuer in goal, here’s what the starting XI could look like:
Bild also seems to think the same way.
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