It has not been a great week for Bayern Munich as the team prepares to travel to Dortmund for the first Der Klassiker of the 23/24 season. Die Roten need a big performance on Saturday to bounce back from the DFB Pokal exit on Wednesday.
Last weekend saw Bayern Munich demolish SV Darmstadt 8-0, but the victory did not come without a price. Joshua Kimmich saw a straight red for a last-man challenge inside the first five minutes. The response from Thomas Tuchel’s side was fantastic as they forced Darmstadt into 2 reds in the first half for similar last-man challenges. Bayern kicked on in the second half, scoring eight goals.
The Bavarian club had a midweek game away at Saarbrucken in DFB Pokal on Wednesday. They suffered their first defeat of the campaign at the wrong time. Along with suffering a defeat in the DFB Pokal, Bayern also lost center-back Matthijs de Ligt for the remainder of Hinrunde with an MCL injury.
With the Dortmund match scheduled for Saturday at Signal Iduna Park, Thomas Tuchel will certainly have his hands full selecting a side that is capable of getting a result in a very hostile environment.
Manuel Neuer returned to claim his starting position against Darmstadt match last Saturday. While he wasn’t called upon much in the 8-0 victory, he made strong saves to keep a clean sheet. Unfortunately, the same could not be said midweek. Neuer is expected to start against Der Klassiker on Saturday.
With Joshua Kimmich out for the match, Konrad Laimer will be needed in midfield, which removes any scenario that sees Laimer playing as a right-back. Noussair Mazraoui is back in training, so he will slot in the right-back position. De Ligt’s injury makes things difficult for Tuchel in central defense. Kim Min-jae will start on Saturday, but it remains to be seen who will partner him. I think Tuchel’s biggest hope is that Dayot Upamecano is fit enough to start. If he is not fit for Saturday, I think Laimer will be forced to play alongside Kim Min-jae. Luckily Alphonso Davies remains fit and in form to play in the left-back position.
Kimmich’s suspension couldn’t have come at a worse time as Leon Goretzka is still struggling to regain fitness. If Goretzka is fit for Saturday, I fully expect to see Goretzka play beside Laimer in the double pivot role. In case Goretzka doesn’t start, we could see Jamal Musiala play a bit deeper. This would certainly sacrifice a lot in terms of defensive stability. The decision on Goretzka will have a ripple effect in front of the two defensive midfielders. If Goretzka can play, Musiala will start as the attacking midfielder. If Musiala is forced to play deeper, expect Thomas Muller to start in the number ten role.
In front of the midfield three, Leroy Sane will start on the right. Serge Gnabry made a return midweek from the forearm fracture he suffered a few weeks ago. While his return is great for the squad, I don’t expect him to replace Kingsley Coman in the starting XI. Fresh off his hat trick last weekend, Harry Kane will look to get on the scoresheet in his first Der Klassiker.
"Predicted Starting XI Neuer Mazraoui-Upamecano (Laimer)-Min jae-Davies Goretzka (Musiala)-Laimer Sane-Musiala (Muller)-Coman Kane"