Bayern München vs Bayer Leverkusen – Friday 19:30 BT / 20:30 CET Allianz Arena – Munich, Germany.
The Bundesliga returns on Friday when Bayern München host Bayer Leverkusen on matchday 1 of the Bundesliga. As per tradition, the champion will play host to the opening game, and many expect that Bayern will once again defend their title.
There have been indications that Bayern might be a side in decline last season. It is true that the likes of Arjen Robben and Frank Ribéry are ageing. Both are in their twilight of their respective careers, but at the same time both still belong in the world class category and can be a difference maker on every given day. Ribéry, in particular, had a fantastic pre-season and looked strong during the DFL Supercup against Borussia Dortmund.
Bayern, however, also looked vulnerable in that match like they have for much of the pre-season. The club spent a significant portion of the preseason in Asia where they played Arsenal in Shanghai (1-1), Milan in Shenzen (0-4), Chelsea (3-2) and Inter Milan (0-2) in Singapore. Back in Munich Bayern failed to reach the final of the Audi Cup for the first time in history after losing the semi-final to Liverpool (0-3). The club then also lost the third place match against Napoli (0-2). Injuries to Thiago, James, David Alaba and Jérôme Boateng further increased the general sense of a crisis at the Rekordmeister before the season had even kicked off.
The Supercup victory over Dortmund somewhat alleviated some of the feelings of disaster that was setting over the Bavarian capital. But even with the triumph in Dortmund, there is a sense that Bayern are vulnerable especially when one concerns the many players that will be missing the start of the season.
This feeling of a crisis could be strengthened should Bayern not gain a positive result on matchday 1. Visiting Bayer, therefore, could be a perfect opponent for the Bavarians. The Werkself has only won three out of 38 games in Munich and Bayer has not won a game in Munich since 2012 when they defeated Bayern 2-1 at the Allianz Arena in the Hinrunde of the 2012-13 season.
Furthermore, Bayer had a poor season last year missing out on a European qualification spot finishing the season in 12th place and even flirted with relegation. Given the amount of talent on the squad the 12th place finish was unforgivable, and Bayer fired first Roger Schmidt and then at the end of the season Tayfun Korkut.
Korkut has been replaced with Heiko Herrlich. Herrlich guided Jahn Regensburg to the Bundesliga 2 last season and has been identified as one of the young up and coming coaches in German football. Herrlich will be delighted that he now gets to rebuild Bayer without having lost many significant pieces. Only Mexican sensation Javier Hernandez, better known as Chicharito, left the club. Young stars like Kai Havertz, Julian Brandt, Jonathan Tah, Kevin Volland and Brazilian Wendell.
Kevin Kampl, Bernd Leno and Karim Bellarabi, who all flirted with the idea of leaving Bayer, all remained at the club. Finally adding Sven Bender could be the best transfer of any Bundesliga club this summer. Hence, with only Chicharito leaving and no European distractions, Bayer could become one of the biggest surprises of the season. In fact, much of the attention has been on the likes of RB Leipzig, Hoffenheim, Dortmund and Bayern in the offseason with Bayer being able to prepare themselves for the new year quietly. With the relative quiet in the Rhineland Bayer could be pushing for a big year and may surprise Bayern on matchday 1.
Bayern München vs Bayer Leverkusen- Players to look out for:
Niklas Süle #4 – Bayern München
Many expected that Niklas Süle would have it tough, to begin with in Munich when he was signed from Hoffenheim this summer. But a strong 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and a strong pre-season with Bayern showed that he could challenge the likes of Javi Martinez, Jérôme Boateng and Mats Hummels for a spot in the starting eleven. With Martinez and Boateng out for matchday 1, Süle is guaranteed a spot in the starting eleven, and he will want to be at his best to hang on to his starting eleven position.
Julian Brandt #10 – Bayer Leverkusen
There were indications that Julian Brandt would be leaving Bayer Leverkusen this summer. Offers from Bayern München and Liverpool were not enough to entice the German national team player to leave Bayer Leverkusen and for the delight of the fans of the Werkself Brandt decided to stay in Leverkusen. Brandt will be crucial in Bayer’s attempt to get back to the European competitions this season.
Bayern München vs Bayer Leverkusen – Match Stats
- Bayern have met Bayer 83 times. Bayern’s record is W50 D16 L17.
- Bayern have only lost three out of 38 games against Bayer at home.
- Bayern’s record against Bayer at home is W29 D6 L3.
Prediction: Bayern München vs Bayer Leverkusen 2-2
Bayern München vs Bayer Leverkusen – Possible Lineups
Ulreich – Rafinha, Hummels, Süle, Kimmich – Rudy, Tolisso – Ribéry, Robben – Lewandowski, Müller
Coach: Carlo Ancelotti
Leno – Wendell, Sven Bender, Tah, Henrichs – Aránguiz, Kampl – Brandt, Bellarabi – Havertz, Volland
Coach: Heiko Herrlich
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.