Bayern Munich vs Bayer Leverkusen – Saturday, September 15, 14:30BST/15:30 CEST – Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Bayern München are once again in control of the Bundesliga. The Rekordmeister recorded a late win 3-1 home victory against Hoffenheim on matchday 1 and then brushed aside VfB Stuttgart in a 3-0 victory on matchday 2.
The two victories brushed aside any doubts on whether Niko Kovac was the right man for the Bayern job. The native of Berlin has done well moderating the many stars in the team by stamping his authority over the dressing room by quickly finding a starting eleven but at the same time rotating his squad just enough to quell any discontent.
With two victories in the bag and the national team break out of the way Kovac will now start to introduce some squad rotation over the coming weeks. One of the main question marks going into matchday 3 was whether defender Mats Hummels and wing back David Alaba would be fit to play on Saturday against Bayer. But Hummels was back in training with the squad this week and should be ready to play on Saturday. David Alaba, in the meantime, might be a game-day decision after he picked up a knock while playing for Austria.
Given that Bayern have seven games in the next 22 games expect some rotation in the upcoming games. Hence, while Alaba and Hummels are likely to start, it would not be a major surprise to see Jérôme Boateng or Rafinha in the lineup instead. Up front Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery had time off during the international break but Serge Gnabry, in particular, is looking for game time as is midfielder James Rodríguez, who has been once again linked with a move back to Real Madrid this week, which given the details that such a deal would entail seems unlikely, however.
Bayer Leverkusen, in the meantime, had a poor start to the season. Tipped by some to potentially challenge for the top of the table this season die Werkself started with two defeats into the new season.
As a result, there have been already rumours that Leverkusen could replace head coach Heiko Herrlich with former RB Leipzig head coach Ralph Hasenhüttl. Rumours that have been angrily shut down by Bayer’s CEO Rudi Völler.
“We are not happy with the start. But to question Heiko Herrlich and ask whether he remains coach is nonsense. It is a hysteria that I can’t stand”, Völler said in a television interview. “Of course we live in a meritocracy in which we all have to deliver, and that we have to collect points is clear,” Völler added.
The reality, however, is also that Bayer will be unlikely to collect three points in Munich. Bayern’s dominance once again seems to be too much for any team in the Bundesliga. At the same time, however, forward Julian Brandt believes that it might be the right time to play Bayern at the moment.
“Especially, in a game, in which no-one expects anything from us. But there is no panic, no hysteria. We are all concentrated and goal-driven. We can win a lot in this game. That is how we have to approach it. The pressure is there, but we are always there, no matter what the situation is”, Julian Brandt told the German media ahead of the game this week.
Perhaps it is a good time for Bayer to play in Munich. Expectations are low after a poor start. But Bayern have had a perfect start to the season and anything, but another victory by the Rekordmeister would be a major surprise.
Bayern Munich vs Bayer Leverkusen – Players to look out for:
Joshua Kimmich #32 – Bayern München
Joshua Kimmich returns from die Nationalmannschaft with some newly gained confidence. Bundestrainer Joachim Löw has moved the 23-year-old from the right-back position to the centre of the park playing him on the number six position. It is where Kimmich played before joining Bayern from Stuttgart, via RB Leipzig. Playing in midfield showed the full bandwidth of Kimmich’s abilities and it is perhaps only a question of time until Kovac will also move the native of Rottweil to the centre of the park.
Julian Brandt #10 – Bayer Leverkusen
Julian Brandt also had a good international break. The winger was dangerous when he came on against France in Germany’s UEFA Nations League match on Thursday. He then scored against Peru on Sunday further cementing his position in die Nationalmannschaft. Back in Leverkusen Brandt will now be the key player against Bayern on Saturday. With his speed and agility, the winger will become key in Herrlich’s plan to hit Bayern on the counter-attack and Brandt will have to be clinical if Leverkusen want to get anything from the game.
Bayern Munich vs Bayer Leverkusen – Match Stats
- Bayer Leverkusen have won just one of their last 28 games away against Bayern.
- Bayer last beat Bayern München on the road on matchday 9 of the 2012/13 (2-1).
- Bayer Leverkusen have lost the last five games at the Allianz Arena.
- In his 193rd game for Bayern, Manuel Neuer could record his 150th victory on Saturday, faster than any other player before him.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Bayern Munich vs Bayer Leverkusen – 3-1
Bayern Munich vs Bayer Leverkusen – Lineups
Neuer – Kimmich, Süle, Hummels, Alaba – Müller, Javi Martínez, Thiago – Robben, Lewandowski, Ribery
Head Coach: Niko Kovac
Hradecky – Weiser, Tah, S. Bender, Wendell – S. Bender, Aranguiz – Brandt, Havertz, Bailey – Alario
Head Coach: Heiko Herrlich
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.