Manuel Veth –
Bayern Munich vs Hertha – Friday, August 16, 19:30BST/20:30CEST – Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
On Friday Bayern Munich host Hertha Berlin to open the 57th Bundesliga season. Despite a difficult transfer window, Bayern Munich enter the season as the favourites to win the title.
At the same time, the Bavarian giants will enter the season under pressure by Borussia Dortmund. Niko Kovač’s biggest challenge early on in the season? Bayern’s thin squad of just 18 players saw one new addition this week when Ivan Perišić joined on loan from Inter Milan.
Perišič, however, is carrying over a suspension from his time in Italy and will miss the first game. “We have 18 outfielders,” Kovač said. “That’s okay for the Bundesliga. But then there must be no injuries. If you have too many players, it is not good. If you have too few, not good either, it’s like cooking. Which spice? Do you put more or less? Does it taste good or not?” Kovac added.
Bayern remain in the market for another forward and winger. Leroy Sané remains a target, but the club is also working on a contingency plan and have targeted Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona. The hunt for additions remain the main topic until the club has gotten its ducks in order.
While the club continues to be after a winger, Bayern also want to bring in a modern number 6 to back up Javi Martínez. That has become even more urgent given Martínez’s injury problems. The midfielder will miss the game against Hertha. “Javi Martínez didn’t train with the team and worked in the gym,” Kovač said. “Otherwise, everyone else is fit and available.”
Hertha, in the meantime, head into the new season after signing a deal with investor Lars Windhorst. Worth over €100 million in the first year, money the club has spent wisely by signing Dodi Lukebakio, Eduard Löwen, Daishwan Redan and also renewed the loan deal with Marko Grujić.
“They have strengthened well,” Kovac said this week. Adding more speed, in particular, could hurt a Bayern side that at times struggled when teams played a quick transition game. Hertha did well in the one win and two defeats against Bayern last season but that was under former head coach Pal Dardai, whether new head coach Ante Čović can explore the still existing weaknesses in Bayern’s system remains to be seen, however.
Bayern Munich vs Hertha – Players to look out for:
Leon Goretzka #18 – Bayern Munich
Leon Goretzka will be a key player for Bayern Munich on matchday 1. Transition in midfield, in particular, has been something that the club struggled with last season. Goretzka is perhaps the most dynamic midfielder in the squad and Kovač wants to focus on more direct parallel attacking play. Overlapping runs and speed through the middle will be crucial this season, and to achieve that Kovač will have to get the most out of Goretzka.
Dodi Lukebakio #28 – Hertha Berlin
Dodi Lukebakio terrorised Bayern as part of Fortuna Düsseldorf last season. “We want to avoid conceding goals like we did last year from Lukebakio,” Kovač said this week. Those three goals [scored last season] are all in our memories,” Čović said this week. “He used his speed three or four times,” he added. Lukebakio will be crucial if Hertha want to get a positive result against Bayern on Friday.
Bayern Munich vs Hertha – Match Stats
- Of the last five games, both teams have won one and Hertha have outscored Bayern 5-4.
- Two of the three most dangerous Bundesliga strikers are meeting each other. Lewandowski has scored 202 goals in his career, the most of all current Bundesliga forwards, Ibisević has scored 120 goals and is third behind Claudio Pizarro (197).
- Bayern’s record against Hertha at home: W27 D5 L2
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Bayern Munich vs Hertha – 2-1
Bayern Munich vs Hertha – Lineups
Neuer – Kimmich, Süle, Boateng, Alaba – Müller, Thiago, Goretzka – Gnabry, Lewandowski, Coman
Head Coach: Niko Kovač
Jarstein – Klünter, Stark, Rekik, Mittelstädt – Darida, Duda, Grujić – Lukebakio, Ibisević, Kalou
Head Coach: Ante Čović
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds 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 is available HERE. Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently splits his time between Victoria, BC and Munich, Germany. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.