Bayern Munich will be aiming to bounce back from the 5-0 defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach when they take on Union Berlin on Saturday
Bayern Munich’s 5-0 defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach in the DFB-Pokal second round was one of the most bizarre results in German football in recent memory. It ended the Bavarians’ incredible goalscoring record while knocking them out of the competition in the early stages for the second season in a row.
The fans and former footballers have not taken the defeat well, with Bastian Schweinsteiger recently launching a scathing attack on the team for losing by such a margin despite the evident quality in the squad.
Hence, the pressure will be immense on the Bayern Munich camp when they take on their next opponent. But more often than not, the German Rekordmeister respond to tragedy in a very positive fashion, and many fans will be expecting a similar response this time out.
Unfortunately, the Bavarians play their next game against Union Berlin. Although merely a promoted club from the 2019/20 campaign, the team from the capital is now unquestionably among the German elite, thanks to the leadership of Urs Fischer.
After securing European football for the first time in the club’s history last season, Union have started the new campaign on a positive note. With 16 points in nine matches, they are currently fifth in the table, ahead of early pace-setters VfL Wolfsburg and last season’s runners-up RB Leipzig.
Bayern Munich, meanwhile, are leading the Bundesliga table but merely have a one-point lead over Borussia Dortmund. A win could, thus, be imperative as the visitors look to maintain their place at the top and, more importantly, recover from the demoralising defeat in midweek.
Team News & Tactics
DONT MAKE THEM ANGRY! ? https://t.co/iPBDRS0gob
— 1. FC Union Berlin (@fcunion_en) October 28, 2021
Under Urs Fischer’s tutelage, Union Berlin have established themselves as one of the finest counter-attacking teams in the division. They are, after all, spearheaded by the excellent attacking combination of ex-Liverpool starlet Taiwo Awoniyi and Bundesliga veteran Max Kruse.
However, it won’t be surprising to see Fischer opting for Sheraldo Becker instead of Kruse due to the youngster’s added speed that could give his side more edge on the counter. Becker and Awoniyi’s offensive partnership should be complemented by the presence of the experienced number ten Genki Haraguchi.
Union’s main source of creativity, though, are their attacking wing-backs. Christopher Trimmel and Nico Giesselmann are enjoying excellent seasons so far and can cause a lot of problems to the Bayern defence with their deliveries from set-pieces.
However, it will be equally important for Die Eisernen to retain their defensive shape. And to that end, influential holding midfielder Rani Khedira remains a doubt heading into this game. We do expect the former Augsburg star to continue in the number six slot alongside Grischa Promel as they look to screen the backline.
Speaking of which, Union have two of their key defenders in Marvin Friedrich and Rick van Drongelen both ruled out after testing positive for COVID-19. But their replacements in Paul Jaeckel and Timo Baumgartl have been rather impressive and will look to maintain their solidity up against the mighty Bayern Munich attack this weekend.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Luthe; Jaeckel, Knoche, Baumgartl; Trimmel, Khedira, Promel, Giesselmann; Haraguchi; Becker, Awoniyi
Julian Nagelsmann will be demanding a strong reaction from his team after the humiliating defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach in midweek. However, the former Hoffenheim tactician is unlikely to make too many personnel changes as he does normally tend to back his players.
Unfortunately for Bayern, Nagelsmann won’t be available on the sidelines owing to his COVID-19 diagnosis. The onus could, thus, be on Dino Toppmoller to rally his troops. The 40-year-old will be wary about his team selection, though, with increasing doubts over Leon Goretzka’s fitness.
Julian Nagelsmann will not return to Bayern's bench against Union Berlin on Saturday [Bild]
— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) October 28, 2021
It won’t be surprising to see the former Schalke prodigy start on the bench, paving the way for Marcel Sabitzer and Joshua Kimmich to take control of the Bayern midfield. Their collective aggression and ability to create chances could be useful in breaking the shackles of Union’s second line of press.
Defensively, Bayern had issues playing out from the back against the intense Gladbach press. Dayot Upamecano, in particular, was struggling to deal with the physical presence of Breel Embolo. The Frenchman could thus make way for Niklas Sule, as he starts alongside Lucas Hernandez at the heart of the four-man Bayern backline.
Benjamin Pavard might retain his place in the side, though, despite an equally disastrous performance in midweek. Bayern will demand more solidity from the French right-back, while Alphonso Davies will be hoping to become more effective going forward this weekend.
Speaking of which, Toppmoller and Nagelsmann might not opt for any change in the attacking department. Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller both had stinkers against Gladbach but have performed well enough to continue, alongside the likes of Leroy Sane and Robert Lewandowski.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Sule, Hernandez, Davies; Sabitzer, Kimmich; Gnabry, Muller, Sane; Lewandowski
- Union Berlin forward Taiwo Awoniyi is enjoying career-best form, with 11 goals in 15 competitive matches for the season. He’s averaging one every 93 minutes in the Bundesliga.
- Union have only lost two of their last 12 Bundesliga matches dating back to mid-May (W5 D5).
- Die Eisernen are unbeaten in 21 home Bundesliga games. Augsburg were the last team to come away from the Stadion an der Alten Försterei with all three points on 19 September 2019.
- Robert Lewandowski is poised to make his 360th Bundesliga appearance. He has registered 287 goals, and 72 assists, including a league-leading 10 strikes this term.
- Six goals after nine rounds of fixtures mark a career-best start to a Bundesliga season for Serge Gnabry.
Player to Watch
Robert Lewandowski endured a difficult game in midweek as Bayern were taken to the cleaners by a rampant Borussia Monchengladbach. But the Pole will be hoping to bounce back to form and continue his merry ways of scoring goals for fun in the Bundesliga this season.
The veteran forward has already registered 17 goals to his name in just 14 competitive matches so far this term. He is the undisputed leader in the Bundesliga scoring charts with nine goals in ten games. And with Erling Haaland out injured, he is set to remain there throughout the majority of the campaign.
However, Lewandowski cannot be complacent, especially amid an ongoing Ballon d’Or race with Lionel Messi. The Argentine has struggled with form in Ligue 1 so far, making it imperative for the Bayern forward to continue his free-scoring form.
Union Berlin 1-1 Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich are the best team in the world when it comes to responding to a bad result. However, they could face serious problems working their way through the Union Berlin team that often remain resolute at the back and can be deadly on counters. It won’t be surprising to see the Bayern centre-backs duo struggle in dealing with the offensive presence of Awoniyi.
Moreover, Union’s competent wing-backs could make it difficult for Bayern wingers to impose their presence on the pitch, thereby leading to a lack of service for Lewandowski. We are predicting a 1-1 draw in Berlin this weekend.