FC Bayern takes on Eintracht Braunschweig in the first round of their DFB Pokal campaign. As usual, the injury list already has big players in it.
Franck Ribery is out for the clash. He will definitely not feature. Arjen Robben, as usual, is a doubt. Braunschweig is definitely an uncommon name but an upset could be on the cards as Bremen, Leverkusen and Wolfsburg have already exited the competition in the first round.
Braunschweig is not a very common name to most fans. Braunschweig won the 3.Liga and were thus promoted to the second division, the 2.Bundesliga. Their squad is filled with unfamiliar names. However, in the past, they did boast a Bayern legend in their ranks in Paul Breitner.
Eintracht has already started their campaign in the 2.Bundesliga. They have won both their matches so far and top the table.
Bayern last played Eintracht in 1985. This is the first time that the two sides are meeting since Braunschweig's relegation in 1985. The meeting will take place in Braunschweig's home stadium, the Hamburger Strasse. The stadium holds 23,500 fans and has obviously been sold out for this match.
The problem for Bayern is the fact that they are still in preseason. They haven't played any competitive fixtures. Braunschweig already has done so and is thus more prepared. The names of a few Bayern starters are definitely a mystery. Manuel Neuer will surely start in goal.
Captain Philipp Lahm will play on the left side of the defence. Rafinha will play on his opposite wing.
The central defensive pair is questionable. Jupp Heynckes played Holger Badstuber in almost all the friendlies. Badstuber will perhaps get a start there. Who will partner him is a mystery. Daniel Van Buyten is a choice but Heynckes perhaps prefers Anatoliy Tymoschchuk or Jerome Boateng. Tymo and Boateng both played the role well but Boateng might just get the nod to start.
In midfield, Bastian Schweinsteiger will definitely get one of the defensive midfield spots. His partner might be one of Tymoschchuk, Danijel Pranjic or Luis Gustavo. Tymo has been complaining about the fact that Heynckes hardly communicates with him.
Apparently, Heynckes just tells him when he is playing and where he is playing. I wonder how he felt under Louis Van Gaal. Pranjic, as we all know, isn't great defensively. He is a good attacking player. Thus, Gustavo seems to be the most likely choice for the second spot.
Next comes the two troublesome spots, the wings. Takashi Usami put in a very encouraging display against Barcelona while Toni Kroos did so against AC Milan and in the Liga Total Cup matches. Kroos was the man of the match against Milan.
Knowing that Heynckes is an admirer, Kroos might thus get a spot on the wing. Kroos can also play as the playmaker as he did against Milan. So, a spot on the wing might instead head to Ivica Olic, Usami or David Alaba. Usami might just get the nod ahead of Olic and Alaba. Thomas Mueller will undoubtedly play on the other wing. He can play behind the main striker as well.
Thus, Kroos and Mueller might both play and end up interchanging positions. Mario Gomez, despite his struggles in preseason, will most probably start as the main striker. However, if things don't work out, Nils Petersen might be seen on the pitch. So my predicted lineup is:
Do you think the match will turn into a goal fest for Bayern?
Lahm- Badstuber- Boateng- Rafinha
Mueller- Kroos- Usami/Olic
How Braunschweig will line up is beyond me. Braunschweig will perhaps defend and counter-attack. This won't be an easy task for Bayern.
So here is my prediction:
Braunschweig 0-2 Bayern