How Bayern Munich Will Line Up Against Stuttgart

Clark WhitneyFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2014

Bayern head coach Pep Guardiola gestures during the Champions League semifinal second leg soccer match between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid at the Allianz Arena in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, April 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

Bayern Munich host Stuttgart at the Allianz Arena in the final match of the 2013-14 Bundesliga campaign on Saturday.

The Bavarians hold a 19-point lead over runners-up Dortmund and would appear to have little to play for. But after being knocked out of the Champions League in humiliating manner last month and having struggled in the Bundesliga for an extended spell after clinching the title, they will be keen to make it four consecutive wins to end the campaign.

Form will be especially important considering that Bayern face Borussia Dortmund in the DFB-Pokal Final just a week later.

Stuttgart are safe from relegation and can only finish 15th, regardless of results, but will be keen to surprise the Bavarians and end their season on a high note.

With pride and form on the line, here's Pep Guardiola's most likely XI to face Stuttgart:


Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer

With Bayern's defense not always convincing as of late, Guardiola can only call on Manuel Neuer to provide his expertise and leadership between the goalposts. His substitute, Tom Starke, is injured in any case, and third-choice stopper Lukas Raeder is inexperienced at 20 years of age.


Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

Right-Back: Philipp Lahm

Rafinha is eligible to play for the first time since his suspension for clawing at Henrikh Mkhitaryan's face, but the Brazilian is most likely to be benched with Philipp Lahm set to start at right-back instead. The Germany and Bayern captain is at his best in defense, as Guardiola will have learned by now.


Center-Back: Javi Martinez

Guardiola may have preferred using Javi Martinez in midfield ahead of next Saturday's DFB-Pokal final, but Jerome Boateng's red card in the previous matchday has left the trainer with little choice other than to use the Spaniard in central defense. It's not Martinez's best position, but he nonetheless is at this stage more reliable at the back than the 36-year-old Daniel van Buyten.


Center-Back: Dante

With Boateng suspended, Holger Badstuber injured and Van Buyten very short of match practice, Guardiola's selection of Dante in central defense should come without a second thought. The 30-year-old may be Bayern's best center-back.


Left-Back: David Alaba

David Alaba has played the full 90 minutes in almost all of Bayern's matches this season and will start if Guardiola indeed intends to use the Stuttgart game as a dress rehearsal for the Pokal final. He is indisputably the best left-back at Bayern and perhaps the best in the world at his position.


Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

Defensive Midfield: Bastian Schweinsteiger

With Martinez in defense, the only pure holding midfielder available to Guardiola and Bayern is Bastian Schweinsteiger. The vice-captain's leadership and ability to control the flow of play remains crucial in the center of the pitch, although he will need to move the ball quicker than he has as of late if Bayern are to catch Stuttgart off guard.


Central Midfield: Mario Goetze

Mario Goetze was man of the match last week, scoring two goals and having a third shot deflected in. He's not always been first choice this season but has certainly earned his spot in the Bayern XI to face Stuttgart. And with an encounter with his ex-club Dortmund and the World Cup on the horizon, there could be little more motivation for the 21-year-old.


Central Midfield: Toni Kroos

Although Thiago is fit once more and ready to play, Toni Kroos is more likely than he to start in central midfield. The Spaniard is short of fitness following a lengthy spell on the sidelines, but he could make an appearance off the bench, particularly in place of Kroos.


Right Wing: Arjen Robben

Once questioned for how well he would fit in a pass-oriented system, Arjen Robben has become a favorite for Guardiola. His status is unlikely to change anytime soon, certainly not with two games remaining. The Dutchman can expect to start both against Stuttgart and Dortmund.


Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

Left Wing: Thomas Mueller

With Franck Ribery's form waning, Guardiola is more likely to start Thomas Mueller in attack than the Frenchman on Saturday. Should the Germany international impress, he will favor his odds of being used from the start in next Saturday's Pokal final.


Center-Forward: Mario Mandzukic

Mario Mandzukic is Bayern's most prolific scorer this season and, with one matchday remaining, is tied for first place on the top scorers list in the Bundesliga. Guardiola will likely start the Croat up front as the player looks to claim the top scorer trophy ahead of Robert Lewandowski, Marco Reus, Adrian Ramos and Josip Drmic.


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