In a game which, once upon a time, would have left the neutral salivating, these two German giants have fallen on difficult times of late. Bayern Munich who, under Jupp Heynckes and Pep Guardiola, were so dominant in the league now find themselves off the top spot for the first time in well over a year. Bayer Leverkusen, meanwhile, find themselves floundering down in ninth with a whole host of unexpected sides above them taking full advantage of one of the most absorbing Bundesliga seasons in recent memory. The two play one another this weekend at the Allianz Arena with the stakes as high as ever despite their tarnished reputations.
There’s no doubt about it, Bayern look rocked. A 1-0 defeat at the Westfalenstadion last weekend was made to look all the more damaging by the fact that the reigning German champions were humbled by FC Rostov in the Champions League in a shock 3-2 loss. That means it’s just two wins in the last five games for Bayern as well as being winless in their last three.
For Leverkusen, their last win came a little more recently after they overcame SV Darmstadt 3-2 at the BayArena before the international break. They were, however, suckerpunched late on by table-toppers RB Leipzig and were held to a 1-1 draw midweek against CSKA Moscow. With just 16 points from their 11 Bundesliga games, it’ll be a desperate struggle to keep up with the rest of the top half should they fall afoul of the champions tomorrow.
Bayern will continue without the likes of Kingsley Coman, Arjen Robben and Jerome Boateng, while players such as Javi Martinez and Arturo Vidal also doubtful to feature. Should the former not be ready, it could be something of a makeshift defence for Bayern.
For Leverkusen, it’s rather more comfortable as it’ll be more to do with team composition as opposed to gap-filling selections. Karim Bellarabi is out indefinitely, while Lars Bender and Stefan Kießling are both doubts. Otherwise, they appear to be in reasonable health – which makes their struggles all the more bizarre.
Bayern Munich (4-3-3): Manuel Neuer; Philipp Lahm, Javi Martínez, Mats Hummels, David Alaba; Xabi Alonso, Joshua Kimmich, Thiago Alcântara; Thomas Müller, Robert Lewandowski, Franck Ribéry
Bayer Leverkusen (4-4-2): Bernd Leno; Tin Jedvaj, Jonathan Tah, Ömer Toprak, Wendell; Julian Brandt, Julian Baumgartlinger, Charles Aránguiz, Kevin Kampl; Kevin Volland, Chicharito
This should be Bayern’s chance to get back to winning ways. Despite missing players, the Allianz is still an incredibly difficult place to go and it should be stressed that their problems recently have come away from home. Leverkusen’s problems and inconsistency have been present wherever they’ve played, and I’d back their strife to continue tomorrow, so I think it’ll end 3-1 to Bayern.