Created on 2019-12-13 at 16:45 PM
It’s the final stretch of the year! FC Bayern face three more Bundesliga games before the winter break, starting at home to Werder Bremen on Saturday afternoon (live ticker from 9:30 am ET on fcbayern.com). It will be the 107th edition of this north-south battle in the Bundesliga – only the fixture between the record champions and Hamburger SV has taken place more often in the history of the top flight (108).
Niklas Süle’s goal gave Bayern a 1-0 win in the last meeting between the two sides at the Allianz Arena in April 2019.
After back-to-back defeats, Bayern regained confidence for the remaining league fixtures with a 3-1 win at home to Tottenham on Wednesday. “It was vital for us to win tonight and start these final four games, which we all want to do well in, with a win,” remarked Thomas Müller after the conclusion of the Champions League group stage.
Seven points is currently the gap between Bayern and the top of the table, so nothing less than victory against Bremen will do if the Reds are to climb back up the table. “We have three games left which will be difficult, particularly with the current personnel situation,” said coach Hansi Flick on Friday. “But we’re going into them very positively. The team has shown they can play football and the way we’re interpreting football is enjoyable to watch.” At any rate, his side has an overwhelming record against Werder, winning each of the last 17 Bundesliga meetings and 20 meetings in all competitions.
Werder missed out on qualification for the Europa League by one point last season as they finished eighth, but they haven’t lived up to expectations so far this term. The Green-Whites have registered just 14 points from 14 games, seven fewer than at this stage last season. They’ve also won just one of their last 10 matches (D5 L4) and are without a clean sheet in 15. That said, they’ve only lost one of their last six on the road (W2 D3) – a 3-1 reverse at Borussia Mönchengladbach on Matchday 11.
One week before the end of the first half of the season, Bayern’s squad is becoming increasingly stretched. Kingsley Coman has been ruled out until the New Year, joining Niklas Süle, Lucas Hernández, Michaël Cuisance, and Fiete Arp. Corentin Tolisso is also out with a muscular problem and Javi Martínez is suspended following his sending off at Mönchengladbach last weekend. David Alaba is available, though, after sitting out Wednesday’s clash with Tottenham. “We’ll supplement the squad with players from the U23s,” announced Flick.
The visitors from Bremen have a concern over Leonardo Bittencourt (stomach bug), with the attacking midfielder set to face a late fitness test. Long-term absentees Joshua Sargent, Niclas Füllkrug, Kevin Möhwald, Ömer Toprak and Fin Bartels will definitely miss out.
What the coaches say
Hansi Flick: “We want to end the first half of the season with three wins. That isn’t easy but it’s what we’ve set out to do, and that’s how we’ll approach this game. It’s important that we go about our work with concentration and discipline. We’re playing against a team that are capable of playing lots of different systems, who want to play football. I like that a lot. In that respect, they’re a team who are capable of taking advantage if we’re not careful.”
Florian Kohfeldt (Werder Bremen coach): “Even if we’re not in the best of form right now, no one goes to Munich and tinkers. We’ll put our best-possible team on the pitch for this game and try to get something, but we’re playing against the strongest side in Germany. The fact they didn’t win the games against Leverkusen and Mönchengladbach is coincidence. Because of the way they defend, they always take a calculated risk. There are opportunities to launch counters but getting away is anything but easy.”
Thomas Müller has been directly involved in 22 goals in 19 Bundesliga games against Werder Bremen (nine goals, 13 assists) – more than against any other team. Müller is also unbeaten against the Green-Whites (17 wins, two draws). The 30-year-old has already racked up nine assists during the current campaign, the best tally after 14 matchdays since records began in 2004/05.