It’s easier said than done to get past Augsburg.
Bayern Munich has won the Champions League final more times in the last two years than the DFB Pokal 2nd round. Both Hansi Flick and Julian Nagelsmann failed to advance from this stage of the competition, making Niko Kovac the last coach to win one of these games against VfL Bochum in 2019. This is an absurd statistic for a team of Bayern’s caliber, and it cannot possibly continue for the third year in a row.
Well, perhaps not. FC Augsburg has already defeated Nagelsmann’s men this season, and the upcoming game will be played with the specter of injuries looming over the team. To be honest, the last two eliminations surprised me. Things appear to be more balanced between the two sides this time.
Lots and lots of bad news. Leroy Sane joins the list of absentees, having suffered a hamstring injury in the game against SC Freiburg. Noussair Mazraoui is suffering from muscular issues and is a doubt for the game, while Manuel Neuer has been ruled out due to shoulder pain. Lucas Hernandez remains sidelined for the time being, but Thomas Muller is at least available — though not fit enough to start.
Given all of the injuries, the starting lineup is at least predictable. Nagelsmann confirmed that Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting would start up top, so we can expect a standard 4-2-3-1 with Jamal Musiala, Sadio Mane, and Serge Gnabry supporting him. In the absence of Muller and Sane, Musiala’s role will be critical in breaking down Augsburg’s tenacious defense. It’s a difficult task for a 19-year-old who has only recently returned to the starting XI after Covid, but the coach doesn’t have much of a choice. Muller, Coman, and Tel are options from the bench if more firepower is required.
Joshua Kimmich will likely start in midfield, with Leon Goretzka acting as a pivot. Goretzka’s recent goal-scoring form has been outstanding, which is likely why he will be chosen ahead of Marcel Sabitzer and Ryan Gravenberch.
Expect no significant changes in defense. Benjamin Pavard should replace the injured Noussair Mazraoui, but Alphonso Davies, Matthijs de Ligt, and Dayot Upamecano should all return from the Freiburg game. Meanwhile, Sven Ulreich will take over in goal for Manuel Neuer.