A Bayern lineup to contain and defeat Borussia Dortmund

FC Bayern München will be mostly healthy when hosting Borussia Dortmund on Saturday for the Bundesliga’s Matchday 28. I expect Jupp Heynckes to field a tweaked lineup to contain a potent attack.

Injuries

  • Manuel Neuer has resumed training;
  • Kingsley Coman is still out.

What Jupp said

  • Arturo Vidal is out with a thigh bruise. Juan Bernat suffers knee inflammation, so he misses the game;
  • Everybody else is fit;
  • Jérôme Boateng has trained normally since returning from the international break. There is no injury concern although he took a knock during the Germany-Brazil match.

Proposed lineup

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Strongest back line

With 54 goals scored, Borussia Dortmund have the second-best attack in the league, so it is only natural to field the strongest possible defence. Joshua Kimmich and Jérôme Boateng are natural selections.
Although Mats Hummels has not been sharp in recent weeks, you still have to play him because he can make key tackles when facing threats, and Michy Batshuayi is certainly one of them. David Alaba is the only man who is capable enough at left-back, even though he will need help to square off with the ever-dangerous Christian Pulisic/Andriy Yarmolenko.

Support from the midfield

According to Squawka, BVB have created 15% of their chances from the right wing and 61.3% of them from the middle, ranging from the penalty area to the attacking midfield. Given the individual class in those areas, it goes without saying that winning will require a central midfield that can help the back line. This is why I would select Javi Martínez and Thiago Alcântara.
First, Javi is Bayern’s best defensive midfielder. Sebastian Rudy has not been up to par in recent months. Were Arturo Vidal fit, he could not provide the same protection to the back four.
Second, Thiago may have a reputation as a passing master but he also can play defensively. He is good at holding up play and his success rate in tackles is 49% (source: Squawka), a nine-point edge over the more attacking-minded Corentin Tolisso.

Strongest attacking midfield

Up front, I would go for what seems to be the most logical combination. Thomas Müller on the right wing and Arjen Robben on the bench to come in as a “super sub” in the second half if needed. Although the Dutchman is fit, the Bavarian is in his prime and he has returned to form as a big-game player. A match with BVB remains a big one even when FCB are close to clinching the title.
James’ services will be needed to create scoring chances if Thiago is to put in a more defensive shift in central midfield. On his left, Coman’s absence makes it obvious that Franck Ribéry has to start.
At striker, I expect Robert Lewandowski to start although he rests more often since Sandro Wagner has joined Bayern. Although Wagner has shown his finishing skills, Lewandowski brings a complete mix of abilities with his involvement in the passing game. That may be handy if facing skilled defenders such as Sokratis

Final thoughts

I would not be surprised if Jupp Heynckes adopted a more defensive approach in this match, given recent struggles in the team’s own half. A well-rounded performance would be welcome as we dive deeper into the most crucial part of the season.