It’s been a great start to the season for far but now begins the gauntlet. For the next two months until the World Cup, Bayern Munich will play two games a week pretty much every week except for the international break. With the transfer window now closed, the squad’s depth and quality will be tested to its very limit, as well as the coach’s ability to harness the same.
First up is Union Berlin, perhaps the only team in the Bundesliga with a start rivaling Bayern’s. Here’s how things are shaping up.
Not great news. Mathys Tel has a “small” capsule tear and will be out for the game, while both Bouna Sarr (patella) and Choupo-Moting (adductor) are confirmed out. Leon Goretzka is still not fit enough to play a game from the start but will be an option from the bench.
Those players are hardly guaranteed starters at the moment, but the fixture list means Nagelsmann could’ve used them in the latter stages of the game to give his starters some rest. Guess that won’t happen now. Let’s talk about the lineup.
Starting up top will likely be Sadio Mane and Thomas Muller, supported by Jamal Musiala and Kingsley Coman in behind. Musisla has proven to be one of Bayern’s most important players this campaign, as he takes the team’s game to another level when he’s on the pitch. Having missed much of the tie against Gladbach due to adductor issues, Nagelsmann will want him back in the XI to face down the equally threatening Union. Kingsley Coman, meanwhile, sat out the midweek game — implying that he was being rested for the weekend.
The midfield shouldn’t contain any surprises. While Ryan Gravenberch is a dark horse candidate to start given his excellent performance against Viktoria Koln, Nagelsmann will probably prefer his established pairing of Joshua Kimmich and Marcel Sabitzer who have been paying dividends this season. Don’t expect any major experimentation with this duo until after the opening game of the Champions League — the midfield is too important to mess with.
The same cannot be said for the defense, which has seen a number of different configurations throughout the season. Of course, there are some set-in-stone starters — Alphonso Davies and Benjamin Pavard, for example. They’ll occupy the left and right back positions respectively, with Lucas Hernandez and Dayot Upamecano likely forming the middle core of the defensive unit. Expect Matthijs de Ligt to be rested. Manuel Neuer, meanwhile, will don the captain’s armband and take his usual place between the sticks.