FC Bayern München will most probably “go with strength” and put together the strongest possible lineup to hand RB Leipzig a defeat on Wednesday.
This is the most awaited match of the season so far, and Carlo Ancelotti’s boys have to be hungry for it.
What we know
- Philipp Lahm and Arjen Robben are fit after experiencing muscular problems;
- There will be “no revolution” in the lineup;
- Jérôme Boateng and Kingsley Coman are the long-term scratches.
It is no time to experiment. Ancelotti must compose a starting XI based on a mix of experience and form. No easy task, you will say, but such is the responsibility of a top coach at a top club.
Facing the in-form and balanced Energy Drink means countering with the strongest, most versatile formation. This screams 4-2-3-1. I could argue for a 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 but performances so far have proven that the “classic” Bayern lineup is the finest.
Player selection results directly from the strategic choice and it starts at the back.
Full-back positions are the most debatable here. Philipp Lahm has declined over the last two years and David Alaba has disappointed many in recent months. There is, however, no question about their reputation as big-game players. I would keep Rafinha ready for an early sub if Lahm does not play well enough.
Central defence is not too problematic, although Boateng’s absence/lack of form has hurt the team this season. Mats Hummels is the best performer of the lot, so I would make him the left CB. On his right, you would find Javi Martínez. He is less consistent, but still a giant whose physicality and defensive instinct are valuable.
If you think that Xabi Alonso should start against dangerous youngsters, I question your judgment. This games calls for the best two central midfielders in the squad. Their names are Arturo Vidal and Thiago Alcântara.
The Chilean warrior’s impact on any game is immense. Thiago started a bit slowly in August and September, but his play in the last month has been stellar. His passing game and ability to do the little things well will be needed to find a chink in Leipzig’s armor.
Robbery on the wings
Given the dynamics of the season so far, this game could decide who wins the Bundesliga on either points or momentum. The situation requires the Robbery duo on the wings. Arjen Robben is not getting any younger, but he remains the single most dangerous player on the ball. Franck Ribéry can still blow a fuse at any time… but he can also set up a goal in a matter of seconds.
In between, Thomas Müller has to be the designated playmaker behind Robert Lewandowski. Attempts to make him a right winger in a 4-3-3 were futile. As soon as he plays in the middle, he recovers Raumdeutering abilities. There is no doubt here.
Robert Lewandowski or Julian Green at striker? Hmmm.
Carlo Ancelotti has to put the emphasis on flexibility and balance against RB Leipzig. The young lads are good on and off the ball. They can challenge FCB in every phase of the game, if not on every play.
This game will require going back and forth. Die Bayern should attack in cold-blooded fashion when they detect the slighest mistake. They should retreat and press when losing the ball to avoid giving anything away.
I predict a 1:1 scoreline after 90 minutes, but the Reds can win with this lineup.