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Bayern face Union challenge for Bundesliga restart

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Exactly 69 days since the last game against Augsburg, Bayern are back in action as they visit Union Berlin on Sunday (kick-off at 6pm CEST, coverage available via our live text commentary). And the excitement of finally playing football again after the coronavirus-enforced break is huge in the record champions’ camp.

Check out the images from Saturday’s final training session at the FC Bayern Campus:

“When I see the feeling and emotion we’ve had in our training matches over the past few days, that shows how much we’re craving regular competition,” said Thomas Müller ahead of the season’s resumption. “Hopefully, it brings some diversion into our living rooms and creates some pleasant topics of conversation among people.”

Current situation

The 2-0 win over Augsburg gave Bayern a four-point advantage at the top of the table prior to the break. FCB head to Berlin as the league’s best team in the second half of the season and want to extend their run of five straight away wins. If they’re to do that, the Reds will have to quickly adapt to the unusual situation of playing in empty stadiums. “There are nine matchdays left, a power season. I hope we can quickly come to terms with these conditions and show our quality. It’s important the team pushes itself. If something doesn’t work, the team has to accept that. Of course, that can also come from the bench with a positive and motivating impact,” said Hansi Flick in his virtual pre-match press conference.

The opponent

Promoted Union have made a good fist of the Bundesliga so far. The capital club have 30 points, putting them eight clear of the relegation play-off spot. Hosting the record champions in their debut top-flight season is something special for the club. “They’re definitely the best team in Germany right now. We’re not favourites for once,” said Union head coach URs Fischer with a wink. The Swiss is without the suspended Marvin Friedrich and Yunus Malli due to fitness. Fischer himself will also be absent on Sunday after leaving the club’s quarantine hotel for personal reasons. His assistant Markus Hoffmann will lead the team from the touchline.

Did you know that Union once played in the UEFA Cup as a third-tier team? Learn more about the club from Köpenick right here:

Injury update

While Niklas Süle is back in conditioning training after his ACL injury, he’s joined on the sidelines by Corentin Tolisso and Philippe Coutinho after their operations on ankle problems. Javi Martinez faces a late fitness test. “He only did running today,” Flick commented on Friday. “Otherwise everyone‘s ready bar those injured.”

It means Robert Lewandowski, Ivan Perisic and Kingsley Coman could all feature after recovering from their respective injuries. It also means Flick has plenty of options, especially given the fact he is now allowed to make five substitutions owing to the unique circumstances. “That’s great in weeks with a lot of games. I’m very pleased with that.”

Lewandowski has shown again what he can do in training, now he wants to score again in Berlin on Sunday.

View from the dugout

Hansi Flick: “We’re up against Union Berlin, a team with a great mentality. They’re a promoted side and are at home to FC Bayern. We can expect an aggressive team who will be direct in their attacks. We have to stand up against that. It won’t be enough with footballing ability alone. We have to add mentality and get stuck in.”

Markus Hoffmann, Union Berlin assistant coach: “With the experience in their team, it’s not possible to surprise Bayern. They’ve been through it all. We have to focus on ourselves and try to implement what we can influence as best as possible.”

Top fact

The all-time Bundesliga table ahead of Matchday 26.

Bayern take on Union Berlin away from home for the first time in the Bundesliga. It’ll be FCB’s 1,866th match in the top flight, moving level with Hamburg. Only Werder Bremen have contested more games in the Bundesliga. The Reds have won 1,111 of those fixtures, which is of course the most of any club.

Check out Flick’s key statements from his pre-match press conference: