Bayern Munich kick off their tour of the United States of America on Thursday as they take on Club Deportivo Guaralajara at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.
The match marks the first of two preseason matches the Bundesliga champions will play in the United States, the second being against the MLS All-Stars in Portland, Oregon, on Aug. 7.
Xherdan Shaqiri and Julian Green have rejoined the Bayern squad following the World Cup, bolstering a team that still lacks a multitude of first-team stars who ran deep into the summer tournament with Germany, the Netherlands and Brazil.
Pep Guardiola's men nonetheless have not missed a beat in the preseason thus far and can be expected to field a strong side in Thursday's match. Here's a preview of the starting XI the trainer may choose:
Goalkeeper: Tom Starke
With Manuel Neuer still on vacation and Lukas Raeder having left the club, Bayern's only senior goalkeeper is Tom Starke. The ex-Hoffenheim man is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a shoo-in for the starting XI against Chivas.
Right-Back: Javi Martinez
Guardiola used a three-man defense against Wolfsburg over the weekend, with devastating effect. Javi Martinez featured at right-back in the three-man defense line. Whether Guardiola sticks with the same tactics or he reverts to a more conservative, four-man back line, Martinez can expect to play in defense just to the right of center.
Centre-Back: Holger Badstuber
Holger Badstuber is in dire need of match practice following nearly two years on the sidelines. The 25-year-old has put his best foot forward in preseason and caught Guardiola's eye, but he still has much to prove if he is to be relied upon during the season. He's sure to start, especially with Dante and Jerome Boateng still absent from the squad.
Left-Back: David Alaba
David Alaba played on the left of a three-man defensive chain against Wolfsburg, but he had the freedom to go forward on occasion. It was a new role for the Austrian, but he played it well. Like Martinez, he seems sure to start. The question is whether Guardiola will opt to play him in a three-man defense chain as a classic left-back or in midfield.
Right Midfield: Rafinha
Rafinha was benched for the Wolfsburg match, but as the regular season approaches, there's a good chance that he'll be reinstated to the starting XI with Pierre Hojbjerg moving into a central position and taking Gianluca Gaudino's spot in the lineup.
Central Midfield: Pierre Hojbjerg
Pierre Hojbjerg's rise has been rapid, the 18-year-old Dane having impressed Guardiola enough for the trainer to rely on him regularly during the preseason thus far. Although he's played on the right on occasion, Hojbjerg is a natural central midfielder. Depending on Guardiola's strategy, Hojbjerg may well be given the nod to start in the center.
Central Midfield: Sebastian Rode
Sebastian Rode will have enormous competition for playing time once Bayern's German contingent and Thiago Alcantara return to action, but in the meantime, he's taking his chances. The 23-year-old scored a great goal against Wolfsburg over the weekend and has little competition for a starting spot for the time being, so he can expect to be used from the beginning on Thursday.
Left Midfield: Juan Bernat
Guardiola singled out Juan Bernat as his outfield signing of the summer (Rode and Robert Lewandowski were all but confirmed before he became coach in 2013), and he has consistently relied on his Spanish compatriot to play as the more withdrawn left-wing player during preseason. That seems unlikely to change soon, considering his only competition for that role at the moment is the underused Diego Contento.
Right-Forward: Xherdan Shaqiri
Shaqiri rejoined the squad on Monday and may well start on Thursday, depending on his fitness. The Switzerland international has had only a few weeks since his country's elimination from the World Cup, so he can't be too far from match fitness. If he starts, Shaqiri may well take over for Claudio Pizarro, who in the preseason thus far has been used out of position in a wide role.
Centre-Forward: Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski has hit the ground running in Munich, scoring in every game in which he's appeared thus far. He netted a brilliant brace against Wolfsburg last weekend, just a day after his top-drawer strike against Gladbach. Bayern will need Lewandowski in top form when the season begins. He can be expected to start and keep his rhythm.
Left-Forward: Franck Ribery
Like Lewandowski, Franck Ribery has returned to training in blistering form. The Frenchman missed the World Cup due to injury and has played like a man with a point to prove. He scored against Gladbach in his first friendly after returning to fitness, then assisted Lewandowski's opener against Wolfsburg. Expect more great things from the 31-year-old this Thursday and beyond.
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