Bayern Munich will look to strengthen their grip at the summit of Group C when they take on Viktoria Plzen in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday night.

German champions Bayern Munich will welcome Czech side Viktoria Plzen to the Allianz Arena as the UEFA Champions League returns this week. Die Roten will go into the game in good spirits after returning to winning ways in the Bundesliga at the weekend against Bayer Leverkusen.

Julian Nagelsmann’s side looked hungry and were able to show their prolific side in the final third. Having defeated Inter Milan and Barcelona so far, Bayern will now face the group’s whipping boys in Viktoria Plzen. As long as they do not take their eyes off the ball, Bayern look set to strengthen their hold onto the top spot midway through the group stage fixtures.

Bayern hold a 100 per cent win rate against the Czech side, having come out on top in their four engagements so far. Die Roten have been particularly merciless at home, putting 11 goals past Viktoria Plzen over two games. The Czech side have only kept one clean sheet ever in the competition and on current form, appears unlikely to add to that tally on Tuesday.

With Inter Milan and Barcelona set to face off over the next two games, Bayern have a golden opportunity to secure the top spot and ensure passage into the Last 16 by Matchday 4. Six points over the two clashes against Viktoria Plzen will make life easier for Nagelsmann and co. Given the busy schedule this season, any downtime that the German manager can give his star players would be a welcome piece of news.

Viktoria Plzen go into the game as heavy underdogs, and it is difficult to see them get the better of the top dogs of arguably this season’s group of death. With the pressure off, it remains to be seen if Michal Bilek’s side can spring an almighty surprise. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.

Team News & Tactics

Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich did not just look hungry against Bayer Leverkusen but showed off their prowess in the final third, something they have been found wanting for in this season. While Bayern have their form, Julian Nagelsmann will be without a couple of first-team stars in Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Muller, both of whom tested positive for coronavirus at the weekend.

The duo join the injured trio of Lucas Hernandez, Kinglsey Coman and Bouna Sarr on the sidelines. Despite having to take to the field sans four first-teamers, Die Roten have enough strength in depth to pack a punch. Nagelsmann has little reason to tinker with the 4-2-3-1 formation that has brought his side much joy this season.

Manuel Neuer was in top form at the weekend and will keep his spot in goal. He will start behind a back four of Benjamin Pavard, Matthijs De Ligt, Dayot Upamecano and Alphonso Davies. The Bayern Munich full-backs will have a busy day as they push forward and overwhelm the Plzen backline. The sooner they can put the game to bed, the quicker Bayern can make changes to rest their players.

With Kimmich out, Marcel Sabitzer is a dead certainty to start and could partner Leon Goretzka in the double pivot. Ryan Gravenberch is another option, but Goretzka could get the nod, given his experience and familiarity with the tactics.

Leroy Sane has scored in both of Bayern’s group stage games so far and should keep his spot on the left wing. Fellow German international Serge Gnabry should start in Muller’s stead on the opposite flank, with Jamal Musiala pulling strings in the number 10 role.

Mathys Tel is another player who can be used in the right winger’s role. But given that Gnabry has started just four of Bayern’s ten games this season, this will be an opportunity to get him up to speed with a full 90 minutes on the clock.

Sadio Mane rediscovered his shooting boots at the weekend and ended his barren run without a goal. He will be keen to keep the streak going against a side that is not renowned for its defensive solidity.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, De Ligt, Upamecano, Davies; Goretzka, Sabitzer; Gnabry, Musiala, Sane; Mane

Bayern Munich vs Viktoria Plzen Preview
Bayern Munich vs Viktoria Plzen Preview

Viktoria Plzen

The Czech side have not lacked any fight this season. Unfortunately for Viktoria Plzen, they find themselves in the position of having been drawn against three European powerhouses. Their lack of quality was apparent against both Inter Milan and Barcelona. Little should change against Bayern Munich.

Die Roten are not just the best team in the group but also one of the favourites for the competition. With Bayern Munich’s frontline now coming together, stopping them will prove to be a big ask of the Plzen rearguard.

Pavel Bucha will miss out on the night given his sending-off against Inter. Michal Bilek has an otherwise full-strength squad to choose from. Viktoria Plzen employed a three at the back system against Inter and gave a good showing. They could likely continue with the same setup on the night.

Jindrich Stanek will start in goal behind a back three of Ludek Pernica, Lukas Hejda and Vaclav Jemelka. Milan Havel and Jan Sykora will start as the wing-backs. They will be given the tough task of silencing Alphonso Davies and Benjamin Pavard, respectively. While the duo should start in midfield, they could drop deep to form a five-man defence when not in possession.

Ales Cermak and Lukas Kalvach will form the base of the midfield, potentially freeing up Adam Vlkanova to push forward. Jhon Mosquera and Tomas Chory will lead the line. They will hope to push the Bayern Munich centre-backs deep and hit them on the counter. Unless the Viktoria Plzen midfield holds its ground, the two strikers could find themselves very isolated all night.

Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Stanek; Pernica, Hejda, Jemelka; Havel, Cermak, Kalvach, Sykora; Vlkanova; Mosquera, Chory

Bayern Munich vs Viktoria Plzen Preview
Bayern Munich vs Viktoria Plzen Preview

Key Stats

  • Both teams have met four times so far, with Bayern Munich winning all the games. This is their first meeting since the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League group stage.
  • Viktoria Plzen have conceded five or more goals in both of their visits to Bayern.
  • A win on the night will see Bayern record three victories in their opening three UEFA Champions League games for the fourth year in a row.
  • Viktoria Plzen have kept just one clean sheet in their UEFA Champions League ever. This is the lowest by any team that has played at least 15 games in the competition.
  • Bayern Munich have not lost a home game in the UEFA Champions League group stages since the reversal against Manchester United in 2013-14.

Player to Watch

Leroy Sane

Embed from Getty Images

The German international has been in good form in the UEFA Champions League, scoring twice in two games so far. Sane scored the opener at the weekend and will be keen to keep the good run going. The winger has linked up well with Sadio Mane and Jamal Musiala. His direct approach to the game should put Viktoria Plzen on the back foot.

A dynamic player who has pace to burn, Sane will be a difficult player to pin down. More so, the linkup with Davies on the left flank should prove to be overwhelming unless Plzen throws bodies to crowd them. But then, it will open up space for an-form Musiala to continue his rise to greatness.


Bayern Munich 5-0 Viktoria Plzen

It is difficult to see anything less than a thumping Bayern Munich victory on the night. The home side have the hunger and the quality to run away with the game. The scoreline is unlikely to flatter Viktoria Plzen on the night, and a lot could depend on just how long the visitors hold out for the first goal.

Anything less than a thumping win would be a huge shock. Bayern will be firmly expected to sweep aside Viktoria Plzen and strengthen their grip at the summit of Group C. The Hard Tackle predicts a 5-0 rout for Bayern Munich.

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