“No, I would win” — Thomas Tuchel, 2024.
Will Bayern Munich win the Bundesliga? Most years, you’d answer that question with a resounding “yes,” even in early February. Only this is not most years. Under Xabi Alonso, Bayer Leverkusen has started the season undefeated, which puts them two points ahead of the Bavarians heading into Saturday’s decisive clash at the BayArena.
Thomas Tuchel needs to win. If he can’t, he risks becoming the first Bayern Munich coach in more than a decade to lose the Bundesliga.
Bayern Munich has a long list of injuries heading into this match. While Joshua Kimmich, Dayot Upamecano and Kim Min-jae are back in the team, Alphonso Davies, Konrad Laimer, Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry are out. New signing Bryan Zaragoza also missed training due to the flu. Manuel Neuer, who spent much of the week out with a knee problem, managed to train with the team on Friday, so he should be ready.
So, with that in mind, what kind of lineup can we expect? Well, assuming Tuchel doesn’t plan any surprises, we’ll probably see Harry Kane up top, flanked by Jamal Musiala and Leroy Sané, with Thomas Müller in the attacking midfield position.
Joshua Kimmich could return to the starting lineup in place of Aleksandar Pavlović, while Leon Goretzka will retain his place in midfield. This will no doubt be disappointing for many fans, as Pavlovic has proven to be a capable presence in the middle of the park during Kimmich’s absence. Perhaps Tuchel will choose to trust the youngster or go off script and choose a Kimmich-Pavlović pivot. It’s hard to guess, but the coach did not hint at any experiments planned for Saturday’s game.
At the back, some rumors claim that Tuchel could use Noussair Mazraoui as a left-back to replace the injured Alphonso Davies. However, he already has a natural replacement at left-back, Raphaël Guerreiro, so it is difficult to see why he would experiment with the Moroccan out of position in the biggest game of the season.
Kim Min-jae could slot into the backline instead of Eric Dier as he is in good form having played matches for South Korea in the Asian Cup. On the contrary, Matthijs de Ligt may be preferred to Dayot Upamecano, which will give the Frenchman more time to regain his rhythm after his injury.
With Manuel Neuer in goal, this is what the starting eleven could look like:
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