The matches are starting to come fast for Bayern Munich as they look to catch league leaders Bayer Leverkusen in the points table. The Bavarians' chase took a hit last weekend as they suffered a shock 1-0 defeat against Werder Bremen on Matchday 18. Bayern looked rather wasteful and toothless in attack and gave former Bayern Munich man Mitchell Weiser and company the spoils in Munich. To make matters worse, Leverkusen were able to again squeeze out a late winner to pull further away from Bayern Munich in the standings.
Bayern Munich bounced back midweek as they hosted Union Berlin. Despite dominating much of the first half against a defensive-minded Union Berlin side, the match would remain scoreless at the break. Thomas Tuchel's men responded quickly in the second half and Raphael Guerreiro found the back of the net in just under 40 seconds to give Bayern the lead. Despite dominating in all of the attacking categories, this would be Bayern's only goal of the game, which was enough for them to claim all three points
The two matches in four days certainly came with a price for Tuchel's side as injuries have started to creep into the team at what could not be a worse time. With both the African Cup of Nations and the Asian Cup already pulling players away, the last thing Tuchel needs is an injury crisis. With Bayern Munich set to visit FC Augsburg on Saturday, Tuchel will have to be creative with his team selection ahead of what is an important Bundesliga match if Bayern is to keep the pressure on Leverkusen.
Despite the rash of injuries within the side, Manuel Neuer has been injury free since his return earlier this season. Bayern will certainly need his calming presence in the goal as they look to find a solution along the backline.
With Konrad Laimer suffering an injury in Wednesday's match vs Union Berlin, Noussair Mazraoui with the Moroccan national team for AFCON, and Bouna Sarr out for the foreseeable future, Tuchel does not have a right back at his disposal. Having previously used Leon Goretzka as a center back, Tuchel does have the option to play a back 3 with Goretzka filling in as the third center back. If he elects to stick with the back 4, I see Goretzka playing as the right back. Laimer was not the only defender who suffered an injury midweek as Dayot Upamecano came off at halftime and is set to miss the next three weeks. Suddenly, the transfer for Eric Dier looks like a saving grace as he will attempt to fill in for Upamecano. Matthis de Ligt will get an opportunity for an extended run in the starting XI and I see Alphonso Davies coming back into the side on the left.
Centrally, Joshua Kimmich also picked up an injury midweek which will cause him to miss at least Saturday's match against Augsburg. With Goretzka playing as a defender due to the other injuries, I see the youngster Aleksandar Pavlovic getting the opportunity to shine. I think he will partner with Wednesday's goalscorer Guerreiro in the center of the park. In front of the midfield pivot, Jamal Musiala should continue his play as the attacking midfielder.
Leroy Sane reverted to his preferred right side on Wednesday, but it had little impact on his play. As he drifted narrowly to support the attack, the lack of a true wide player became very evident as Laimer was unable to provide the necessary width. With Sane wanting to return to the right side, I can't see Tuchel obliging this time. The German coach believes that Coman provides more defensive stability on the right, while Sane provides impetus on the left. Harry Kane will lead the line as long as he remains fit.
Bayern Munich Starting XI