Lille is the opponent this week for an immaculate Bayern side. Unfortunately, unlike in the Bundesliga, things have not worked out as Bayern would have hoped in Europe. A defeat to the unheralded BATE Borisov in Minsk on Match-day Two has left them in uncharted waters when compared to the group stage of the previous season.
In a group consisting of Napoli, Manchester City and Villarreal in 2011, Bayern was top from the first match-day till the last. They are currently third in their group due to inferior goal difference to Valencia.
Bayern heads into the match against Lille after breaking the record for the largest number of wins at the start of a season in the Bundesliga, after defeating Fortuna Düsseldorf 5-0.
Bayern toyed with Düsseldorf. Fortuna was supposed to provide a tough test considering the fact that they had conceded only three goals coming into this one. Fortuna hardly had a chance as Bayern had about 75 percent possession. They used their possession wonderfully too. From the first minute, it was easily understandable that it was the score-line that was in doubt, not the side which would win.
Lille, a good football side on their day and very good to watch, rescued a point against Bordeaux in their last match in Ligue 1. Bordeaux led thanks to an 18th minute goal from Ludovic Obraniak. Marko Basa, the defender, rescued a point for Lille in the dying seconds of the match.
Lille has lost both of their Champions League matches in the group to date.
Bayern’s injury concerns are few really. Daniel Van Buyten has stayed back in Munich due to bruised ribs while Claudio Pizarro has returned to the squad after missing the match against Fortuna due to jetlag. Emre Can is traveling with the squad too. For Lille, Mathieu Debuchy is suspended. Basa is doubtful as is Idrisa Gueye. Rio Mavuba is out with injury.
Arjen Robben is still injured and Mario Gomez hasn’t returned to action yet. Jupp Heynckes this time will surely be sensible enough to start Bastian Schweinsteiger after the events in Minsk. Whether Javier Martinez will be given a start is doubtful. Martinez can play well as he demonstrated against Valencia.
However, the best football Bayern have played this season has come when Schweinsteiger has been paired with Luiz Gustavo (‘the nice destroyer’) in defensive midfield. Heynckes will perhaps not experiment tomorrow and stick to his best line-up. Another important question regards David Alaba of-course.
Alaba has returned to action and Heynckes can start him. Who will be sacrificed if he does come in on Tuesday? Holger Badstuber has had his miserable moments in the national side but has been pretty consistent for Bayern. Jerome Boateng is said to be more talented than his teammate but lacks focus. Is Dante Bonfim really the kind of defender who can be utilized in the Champions League, especially after the events in Minsk?
This is my best guess at a line-up:
Philipp Lahm- Jerome Boateng- Dante- Holger Badstuber
Bastian Schweinsteiger- Luiz Gustavo
Thomas Müller- Toni Kroos- Franck Ribery
This match is a special one for Herr Franck. He trained in Lille as a youth for three years.
This game is a must win for Bayern. A failure to win this one will put them in a tough situation as far as qualification from this group is concerned. Lille is a tough team. They can attack well and if they test the Bayern defence enough times, they will get a goal.
If Bayern does not win, the sky might literally fall on the Allianz Arena.
So, come on Bayern! Show us what you can do on the biggest stage of all in European football!