Barcelona vs. Bayern Munich: Jupp Heynckes Should Sit Stars to Avoid Suspension
Underestimating Barcelona is a mistake no manager should ever make, especially when playing at Camp Nou.
But with a four-goal cushion, Bayern Munich manager Jupp Heynckes can afford to prepare for the Champions League final, if only just a little.
Mario Gomez, Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Javi Martinez, Dante and Luiz Gustavo are all just one booking away from missing out on a potential final, and missing any of the six would be a definite blow.
In Mario Gomez's case, this won't be much of a problem. With Mario Mandzukic set to return from his suspension, Gomez can sit without Bayern suffering a dip in footballing quality.
For the other five players, finding replacements isn't so easy. Captain Philipp Lahm in particular is dreadfully important, and Heynckes will have no choice but to play him for both the quality and the morale of the squad.
In the defensive midfield, Heynckes will have a serious selection dilemma, with Schweinsteiger, Martinez and Gustavo all at risk of suspension.
Schweinsteiger is the most important player of the three to preserve for the final, so leaving him on the bench in case of emergency is Bayern's best option.
Martinez and Gustavo in the defensive midfield is a possibility, but their performance as a duo against Arsenal was disappointing to say the least. If one were to be rested with Shweinsteiger, it wouldn't be to the detriment of the club.
That's where Anatoliy Tymoshchuk comes in. The 34-year-old Ukranian international has been largely overlooked this season in the Bundesliga, but don't let that fool you. Tymoshchuk has played over 100 matches in European competitions, and while he is no longer in his prime, the stage won't be too big for him.
To preserve as much quality in the side as possible, Tymoshchuk should partner with Martinez rather that Gustavo. This way, two important defensive midfielders will surely be available for the Champions League final, but there is still enough quality to assure that Bayern will make it there.
Last but not least is Dante. The Brazilian has been brilliant in Bayern's central defense, and with Barcelona looking to attack ferociously at home, sacrificing defense too early would be a mistake. That being said, a scoreless first half or a Bayern goal should allow Dante to make a swift exit to secure his presence in the final. Daniel van Buyten isn't enough of a downgrade to ruin a side, and he should readily be used if Dante's fouls begin to accumulate.
With a player like Lionel Messi in the opposition, there is always risk. But with Gomez, Schweinsteiger and Gustavo all out of Bayern's starting XI and with Dante most likely off the pitch by the hour mark, Jupp Heynckes secures a quality team for the Champions League final without leaving too much up to chance in the semifinal.
It may not be the sexy option, but security and sensibility must prevail at Camp Nou.
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