The Bundesliga is finally back! After two months of suspension due to the Covid-19 outbreak around Europe - it becomes the first major European league to resume its campaign. Yet, Bayern Munich aren’t one to be daunted by the occasion.
After Hans-Dieter Flick was confirmed as permanent manager for the foreseeable future, the Bavarians have a lot to prove. They have a comfortable lead at the top, but any slip-up could be disastrous. Union Berlin have proven to be a thorn for many top Bundesliga sides. Their tenacity and undying spirit possess enough firepower to cause an upset on Sunday.
Story Behind The Game
Union were experiencing some shaky form before the season suspension, having won only one out of their last three games. Their last result was an abysmal 1-3 loss to Freiburg. However, they’ve received a long period to turn around their momentum in time for the Bayern clash.
Bayern, of course, were flying high before the abrupt suspension. They were on a six-match winning streak, including dominant wins against Chelsea and Hoffenheim in late February. For them, it’ll all be about continuing that streak to race further closer to the Bundesliga title.
Incidentally, the two sides faced up for the first time earlier this season at the Allianz Arena. Bayern scratched a 2-1 win to save face, but will aim towards a more emphatic result this time around.
It’ll be a surreal experience for Union to play without their fans, the source of their inspiration and motivation during games at the Stadion An der Alten Forsterei. They might not be the biggest side, but Union’s unreal support has taken them where they’re at. It’s time for them to prove that they’re just as strong without their fans inside the ground. They must fight for those at home and torment Bayern with their never-say-die attitude to grind out a result.
Of course, it won’t be any easier for Bayern to adapt themselves in the current circumstances. Neither are they as fit or concentrated as they were two months ago. It’ll be a tough test against the gritty Union Berlin team - but Hans-Dieter Flick’s side must show the character of champions in producing another spectacle to make an early statement towards their championship ambitions.
Union currently only have a single injury problem. Winger Akaki Gogia remains the treatment table after suffering an injury in September.
Bayern, however, have good news and bad news. The good news is top-scorer and goal-machine Robert Lewandowski is fit after sustaining a knock before the break. Ivan Perisic has also made his recovery. Unfortunately, Corentin Tolisso, Niklas Sule and Philippe Coutinho remain on the sidelines with injury problems.
Union Berlin XI: Gikiewicz, Subotic, Friedrich, Sclotterbeck, Trimmel, Gentner, Andrich, Lenz, Bulter, Ingvartsen, Andersson
Bayern Munich XI: Neuer, Pavard, Boateng, Alaba, Davies, Kimmich, Thiago, Gnabry, Muller, Perisic, Lewandowski
Serge Gnabry vs Christopher Lenz
Serge Gnabry was on fire before the break, scoring or assisting in almost every game for Bayern. Yet, this long lay-off must’ve had an impact on his momentum and he’ll need to go back to square one to find his red-hot form. In his first game back, Gnabry won’t find it any easy against sturdy Union defender Christopher Lenz.
The 25-year-old is not only a potent attacking threat, but his hardworking nature and tough-tackling attitude have helped keep many wingers at bay. Gnabry loves roaming all around in a creative free role, so it’ll be interesting how Lenz contains him and how the Bayern powerhouse performs in his first game back.
Sebastian Andersson vs Jerome Boateng
Sebastian Andersson has been the beacon of hope for Union Berlin’s attack. He loves getting into all the right areas to pull off special strikes for the Iron Ones. He’s netted 11 goals for before the break and has all the traits to cause chaos in the final third. Andersson’s unpredictable movement and clinical instincts will be a tough challenge for Jerome Boateng.
Boateng put in some strong performances to help the Bavarians keep three clean sheets in their last four before the suspension, showcasing enough intelligence and grit to limit opposition strikes. It’ll be an interesting battle between the primed Andersson and resurgent Boateng, but the German centre-back must be on his toes to keep the fiery Swedish from being a menace.