With injuries and the second leg against Real Madrid in mind, Bayern Munich will rotate heavily on Saturday. The ‘second team’ should nevertheless be enough to overcome a struggling Bayer Leverkusen.
Here we go again.
After Mats Hummels and Robert Lewandowski, it is Jérôme Boateng’s turn to join the injury list. Bayern’s defensive leader has adductor problems and will miss Saturday’s Bundesliga away game against Bayer Leverkusen. Meanwhile, Holger Badstuber is fit and…out on loan.
The upcoming match will be a dress rehearsal for some of the squad players who might have to play the second leg against Real Madrid on Tuesday. Taking that into account, here is the probable lineup at the BayArena:
Alaba and Bernat in defence
The blokes who usually fight it out for the left-back spot are likely to be one half of Bayern’s backline. David Alaba is likely to fill in at centre-back in the absence of Boateng and Hummels. Juan Bernat might well have to start against Real, meaning this game is important for him to be match-fit.
Philipp Lahm needs some rest if he is to cope with Cristiano Ronaldo at the Santiago Bernabeu next week. Rafinha is thus likely to deputise for him.
Javi Martînez completes the backline. That is, if he can keep his feet on the ground and his head on his shoulders.
A midfield without Thiago and Vidal
Xabi Alonso might have to be sacrificed for an extra attacker at the Bernabeu. He is, therefore, likely to start on Saturday while Thiago and Arturo Vidal prepare for Tuesday.
Joshua Kimmich and Renato Sanches complete the midfield trident. Kimmich might have to play at centre-half against Madrid if both Boateng and Hummels remain unfit. He is the likelier of the two to start.
Wing rotation with Müller in attack
Thomas Müller was disappointing as Bayern’s second-choice forward in the first leg. Nevertheless, he will start on Saturday in place of a suspended Robert Lewandowski. Hopefully, Thomi will find some form of his own.
Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry’s combined 67-year old legs need respite after chasing shadows in the first leg. Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman are expected to start in their absence.
With the shadow of the Champions’ League second leg looming large, Saturday’s fixture is not as important as the actual performance of squad players.
Bernat and Costa in particular have to put in good shifts to gain form and confidence. Kimmich too needs to be match-ready and should approach this match like he would a Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid.
Let’s hope the dress rehearsal goes well.