Hannover, Freiburg and then... Borussia Dortmund
A week that can change the title race awaits Bayern. They don’t want things to be tight at the top. They want to hold on or if possible increase their lead. However, if the two past performances are anything to go by, this week won’t be easy at all. It was roughly around this time last season that Bayern started falling away. Another such collapse will surely be unforgivable.
Hannover are the visitor this week. They surprisingly lost at home to SC Freiburg last week. Hannover, as a general rule, do not lose easily at home. They are traveling to Bavaria, though, this time. Last season, this fixture was tight. Bayern led but could not find a second. Eventually, it was left to Mario Gomez to score a superb, technically perfect goal to win the game.
Hannover scored a late goal and pressed for a second. Manuel Neuer had to deny them a point late on with a superb save. The reverse fixture saw Hannover take a 2-1 victory. The story was just a reversal of that at the Allianz. They led 2-0 but a late David Alaba goal made things nervy for them. There was an early sending off in that one as Jerome Boateng saw red. Arguably, Toni Kroos is the one who should have seen the red for losing his temper. Anyway, Hannover saw that game out.
Bayern’s performance against Valencia drew criticism from just about everyone in the hierarchy and the players themselves. They knew a point would see them qualify prior to the game as BATE was defeated by Lille. Valencia had already qualified due to that result. However, Valencia seemed to want the win more. A win for Bayern would have seen them take top spot in the group regardless of results on Matchday Six.
However, it is time to look forward rather than to look back. Holger Badstuber didn’t have the best of games on his comeback against Valencia but will surely continue as Daniel Van Buyten seems to be a last-gasp solution these days. Bastian Schweinsteiger, despite not having a great game, is seemingly set to continue due to lack of alternatives.
Toni Kroos and Thomas Müller, despite their drops in form, will have to continue perhaps due to the current problems of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. Robben is injured while Ribery carried an injury into the Lille game. Müller has been scoring some important goals and will thus be useful.
As far as the front man is concerned, Mario Mandzukic will surely start ahead of Claudio Pizarro and Mario Gomez. Gomez could start of course, but it might be too early for him to play 90 minutes. He can have impact late on if the game remains on a knife edge. Bayern needs these three points desperately.
A draw here and a draw in a tough game against Freiburg would leave them reeling ahead of BVB. The best teams in the world are the ones that can win despite being in poor form. Bayern has to shun the criticism aside and be prepared to put in a good showing. They can’t always be expected to win, but two draws against sides which were both down to 10 men means that a win is due against a good team.
This is what will perhaps be the lineup:
David Alaba, Holger Badstuber, Dante, Philipp Lahm
Bastian Schweinsteiger, Javier Martinez
Xherdan Shaqiri, Toni Kroos, Thomas Müller
Prediction: Bayern 2-1 Hannover