Bayern Munich are aiming to end their Champions League campaign on a positive note with a win over Lokomotiv Moscow on Wednesday.
Bayern Munich have been one of the few teams who have managed to dominate their group, thanks in part to poor performances from their rivals. So they face a dead rubber on Wednesday as they lock horns with Lokomotiv Moscow in the final matchday of this edition’s UEFA Champions League group stage.
The Bavarians currently have 13 points on the board, seven ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid, who are facing RB Salzburg in the other fixture. The Bundesliga giants will be disappointed to an extent, after their fantastic winning run in the Champions League came to end following a 1-1 draw with Atleti last week.
Nevertheless, Hansi Flick’s men will be keen on closing out the group on a positive note, though Lokomotiv won’t make the job any easier. In fact, the Russian have been by far the most competent side in dealing with Bayern among the group this season, almost salvaging a point but for a late stunner by Joshua Kimimich.
Things will be undeniably difficult this time around as they travel to Allianz Arena. But with a berth in the Europa League knockout rounds potentially at stake, Lokomotiv will be eyeing nothing less than all three points. And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this Group A fixture in the Champions League this midweek.
Tactics & Team News
Bayern Munich have already secured first place in Group A. So Wednesday’s game against Lokomotiv Moscow should allow Hansi Flick to ring in the changes and provide opportunities to some of the younger members of the team.
It is also fair to point out that the Bavarians are missing some key players as well, including Joshua Kimmich, Corentin Tolisso and Javi Martinez. But on a positive note, coach Flick did confirm in the pre-match press conference that Alphonso Davies will feature on Wednesday, although we do not expect the Canadian international to start.
Hansi Flick: "Alphonso Davies will be back in the squad tomorrow. We all are happy about that. We don't know yet whether he'll start or come in during the game, but he's going to play" pic.twitter.com/dD2rVZuSlo
— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) December 8, 2020
Lucas Hernandez has returned to team training as well but remains a doubt this midweek, so David Alaba could again be asked to play at left-back, while Bouna Sarr should come in at the expense of Benjamin Pavard on the opposite flank. There will be a start for Chris Richards as well, with the young American set to replace Jerome Boateng at the heart of Bayern’s four-man backline.
In midfield, Flick will surely give Leon Goretzka a breather while Martinez’s injury means Marc Roca should make his return to the side. The Spaniard had missed the game against Atleti due to suspension but should operate in the holding midfield role, partnering Jamal Musiala, who should operate in a more attacking role.
Moving forward, key players like Kingsley Coman and Robert Lewandowski could be rested so we expect Serge Gnabry and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to return to the starting eleven this midweek.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Nubel; Sarr, Richards, Sule, Alaba; Roca, Musiala; Gnabry, Muller, Sane; Choupo-Moting.
Marko Nikolic’s Lokomotiv Moscow caused a lot of trouble for FC Bayern in the reverse fixture, but are missing out on key players like Fedor Smolov and Ze Luis in this game, with Daniil Kulikov also a doubt.
? Fedor Smolov has flown to Rome for an operation on his collarbone, in an ordeal unrelated to the foot injury that he's also suffering from at the moment. https://t.co/D8VyvvXXkn
— Russian Football News (@RusFootballNews) December 1, 2020
It should force Nikolic to make some alteration in the team’s overall game-plan and a potential 4-4-2 is not out of the question, with Eder and Vitali Lisakovich leading the attack.
The ever-impressive Anton Miranchuk and a more defensive-minded Vladislav Ignatjev could operate in the wider midfield roles, although it is fair to point out that the latter did bag two goals in the latest win Rubin Kazan, in the Russian Premier League.
Meanwhile, during the defensive phases, the onus will be on Grzegorz Krychowiak and Stanislav Magkeev to screen the backline from the middle of the park. Their experience and work-rate mean they are more than capable of dominating a depleted Bayern Munich midfield this midweek.
And finally, in defence, Lokomotiv are unlikely to shift away from the tried and tested backline involving Dmitri Zhivoglyadov, Vedran Corluka, Slobodan Rajkovic and Maciej Rybus, with Guilherme starting in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Guilherme; Zhivoglyadov, Corluka, Rajkovic, Rybus; Ignatyev, Krychowiak, Magkeev, An. Miranchuk; Lisakovich, Eder.
- Hansi Flick’s side had won 15 consecutive games in the Champions League before last Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Atletico. Their last defeat was back in March 2019.
- Hansi Flick’s win percentage of 89 from his 53 matches since replacing Niko Kovac last November is the highest of any coach in Bayern history.
- Prior to October’s 2-1 win in Moscow, Bayern Munich beat Lokomotiv 5-1 over two legs on the way to the 1995/96 UEFA Cup, with Jürgen Klinsmann scoring twice.
- Lokomotiv centre-backs Vedran Corluka (Bayer Leverkusen) and Slobodan Rajkovic (Hamburg and Darmstadt) have previously played in the Bundesliga.
- Only Cristiano Ronaldo (132) and Lionel Messi (118) have scored more goals in UEFA Champions League history than Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski (71).
Player to Watch
Do people in England realise how big a talent they have in Jamal Musiala? ?
A big, BIG talent ?pic.twitter.com/Sgmkkc0GgP
— Goal (@goal) December 8, 2020
Jamal Musiala was one of the few positives for Bayern Munich in their 3-3 draw with RB Leipzig. The youngster replaced the injured Martinez early in the game and went on to star in the entertaining draw, notably scoring his team’s first equaliser with a clinical strike from outside the penalty area.
The 17-year-old, who has the option of representing England or Germany, is now a guaranteed starter on Wednesday and could even play a key role in the middle of the park. With Roca operating as a number six, the youngster could join forces with Muller in the advanced midfield roles, acting as an auxiliary number eight.
Musiala, therefore, could become a vital asset in Bayern Munich’s approach play as they look to breach the Lokomotiv defence. It will also serve as an excellent opportunity for the player to push up the ranks with a strong performance this midweek, especially with Tolisso struggling with fitness and Sane struggling with form.
Bayern Munich 2-0 Lokomotiv
Breaching the Lokomotiv defence will be no walk in the park for Bayern Munich. But unfortunately for the visitors, the absence of their key attackers could prove to be critical and they might even fail to provide any threat going forward. We are thus expecting a hard-fought 2-0 victory for the hosts, with the possibility of a Bayern player scoring from outside the box.