Bayern München vs Freiburg – Saturday, October 14, 14:30 BT / 15:30 CET Allianz Arena – Munich, Germany.
Match one since the return of Jupp Heynckes will be one of the most exciting games in the Bundesliga this weekend. The 72-year-old head coach was hired during the international break to act on an interims basis until the end of the season when Bayern will sign a new long-term option—the likely candidates remain Thomas Tuchel or Julian Nagelsmann.
For Heynckes the first week back at his new club has been all about steadying the boat. In his fourth term with Bayern Heynckes upped the training intensity, brought back clear rules on attendance, and was also spotted chatting to several key players to control the dynamics of the dressing room. Most apparent were the lengthy discussions Heynckes had with the likes of Thiago. Thiago was one of the players that were seen as one of the favourites by Carlo Ancelotti, and Heynckes wanted to show that the Spaniard remains one of the key players in Bayern’s system.
Heynckes will likely return to the 4-2-3-1 that Bayern practised under him from 2011 to 2013. The system won the club the famous triple but is also heavily reliant on both Arjen Robben and Frank Ribéry. Both attacking midfielders have shown signs of age under Carlo Ancelotti, and it will now be up to Heynckes to get the most out of the two in what could be the last season of the dynamic duo at Bayern.
Fitness, in general, has been one of the critical issues since Heynckes has taken over. Bayern played like a machine in the 2012-13 season thanks to a fitness regime that saw the Bayern able to dominate their oppositions completely. The matches against Wolfsburg and Mainz showed that Bayern no longer have the stamina to dominate their opponent over the full 90 minutes completely.
All of this meant that Heynckes has had a long list of issues to fix during the international break. Whether the time was enough will be on display on Saturday afternoon against SC Freiburg. But anything than a victory against Freiburg, even for a Bayern side in transition, would be a major surprise.
Freiburg have not won one of their 17 away games in the Bavarian capital and although Freiburg have improved from their poor start to the season Christian Streich’s man, not the force that they were last season. Losing Vincenzo Grifo and Maximilian Philipp in the summer was a massive loss for Freiburg and robbed them of the offensive capabilities to truly test one of the big sides in the Bundesliga. Hence, Freiburg could be the perfect first opponent in Heynckes’ difficult mission to get Bayern back on track.
Bayern München vs Freiburg – Players to look out for:
Robert Lewandowski #9 – Bayern München
No other striker has scored more often against SC Freiburg than Robert Lewandowski. The Polish striker has contributed 12 goals and six assists in the eleven games he played against die Breisgau Brasilianer. The Polish forward will be one of the key players in Jupp Heynckes’ attempt to steady the ship at Bayern München. Unlike four years ago, when Bayern had both Mario Gomez and Mario Mandžukić as central strikers at their disposal, Lewandowski is the only pure striker in this squad, and he would be irreplaceable should he go down with an injury.
Florian Niederlechner #7 – SC Freiburg
For Florian Niederlechner the match against Bayern will mean a return to the roots. Having grown up just 28 kilometres north of the Allianz Arena in Hohenlinden Niederlechner is a 1860 München product, who had his breakthrough with the SpVgg Unterhaching before joining Freiburg via Mainz. The 26-year-old has scored two goals in seven Bundesliga matches this season.
Bayern München vs Freiburg – Match Stats
- Bayern have not lost any of their 17 home games against Freiburg.
- Bayern have won the last 13 home games against Freiburg.
- Robert Lewandowski has managed 12 goals and six assists in eleven games against Freiburg.
- No other player has scored more often against Freiburg than Robert Lewandowski.
Prediction: Bayern München vs Freiburg 2-1
Bayern München vs Freiburg – Possible Lineups
Ulreich – Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels, Alaba – Javi Martínez, Thiago – Robben, Müller, Coman – Lewandowski
Coach: Jupp Heynckes
Schwolow – Lienhart, Schuster, Söyüncü – Stenzel, Günter, Frantz, Höfler – Niederlechner, Haberer, Terrazzino
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.