Hans Deiter Flick’s much touted tactical flexibility is set to stretched to the limit when champions Bayern Munich welcome Union Berlin to the Allianz Arena on Saturday. The Bundesliga leaders are without leading scorer Robert Lewandowski who remains sidelined with a knee injury and regular striker partner Serge Gnarby who is recuperating from a Covid-19 attack.
The absent pair has been responsible for more than half of the Bavarians’ 79 league goals this season as Lewandowski has plundered a division leading 35 goals, with Gnarby chipping in with nine.
Their absence wasn’t keenly felt last weekend as Thomas Muller’s solitary strike powered the record champs to a 1-0 victory over second placed RB Leipzig. A gaping hole was however evident on Wednesday night as the reigning Uefa Champions League title holders squandered one chance after another before falling to a surprise 2-3 reverse at the hands of Paris Saint Germain. Muller has already contributed ten goals and fifteen assists to Bayern Munich’s campaign, and Flick will be counting on his clever runs between the lines to dispose of a Union Berlin side without injured powerful duo Taiwo Awoniyi and Anthony Ujah.
Meantime, Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann is without crocked attacking trident Yousouf Poulsen (hip), Dominik Szobaszolai (groin) and Konrad Laimer (knee) for the trip to Werder Bremen. RB Leipzig start the weekend with a seven points deficit on leaders Bayern Munich but are also without Nerdi Mukiele, Dayot Upamecano and wing back Angelino. Bremen won a midweek German Cup rubber away to Jahn Regensburg but have omitted Maxmillian Eggestein from their matchday squad for disciplinary reasons.
A highly appetising encounter is due at Deutsche Bank Park where third placed Eintracht Frankfurt host a Wolfsburg side one place below them. The game is expected to be a shootout between two of the Bundesliga’s outstanding strikers. Frankfurt’s Portuguese silver bullet Andre Silva is the division’s deputy leading scorer with 22 goals whereas Wolfsburg’s Dutch behemoth Wout Wieghorst already has 17 goals to his name. The visitors are without suspended Paulo Otavio and injured pair Admir Mehmedi and Renato Steffen.
Pressure is meanwhile building on two of the Bundesliga’s newest coaches. Borussia Dortmund boss Edin Terzic, whose side has lost two games on the bounce, can expect a thorough examination at Stuttgart’s Mercedes Benz Arena yet he is without starlet Youssoufa Moukoko, assist king Jadon Sancho (thigh), midfield lynchpin Axel Witsel (Achilles tendon) and left back Marcel Schmelzer (knee). New Bayer Leverkusen supremo Hannes Wolf will be hoping to build on last week’s 2-1 victory over Schalke when his side travels to face a Hoffenheim outfit bereft of the services of top scorer Andrej Kramaric.
Arminia Bielefeld v Freiburg
Werder Bremen v RB Leipzig,
Hertha Berlin v Gladbach,
Frankfurt v Wolfsburg,
Bayern Munich v Union Berlin
Schalke v Augsburg, Koln v Mainz, Hoffenheim v Bayer Leverkusen