The Bundesliga resumes this weekend following the international break, and for Bayern Munich, their next opponents are Eintracht Frankfurt.
Pep Guardiola's side managed to snatch three points from a resolute FC Cologne in their most recent match, maintaining their five-point lead atop the Bundesliga table. And with just seven matches left, they are closing in on a fourth consecutive title.
The Bavarians have a fit and in-form squad, and they look to be ready for the remainder of the spring campaign.
Frankfurt will do their best to spoil the Bavarians' party. Die Adler will need a sharp turnaround of their recent form if they are to take something from Saturday's match, though; they've won just once in their last nine fixtures, their most recent result against Hannover snapping an eight-game winless streak.
Due to his side's poor run of form, head coach Armin Veh was sacked in early March. Niko Kovac was subsequently brought in to try to steer Frankfurt back on course, but his side are still deep in the fight to avoid relegation.
"We want to pull off a surprise," the new trainer recently said, per the Associated Press (h/t the Daily Mail). "We have the quality to do it, and that's why I took the job."
Standing 17th in the table, they would be sent to the 2. Bundesliga if the season were to end today. But even a point against Bayern could go a long way towards securing their spot in the German top flight next season.
Date: Saturday, April 2
Time: 2:30 p.m. BST/9:30 a.m. ET/3:30 p.m. local time
Venue: Allianz Arena, Munich
TV Info: Fox Sports 2 (U.S. only), Not available (UK only)
Live Stream: Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S. only), BT Sport Europe (UK only, on time delay beginning at 11:45 p.m.)
|Bayern Munich||Eintracht Frankfurt|
|Cologne: Win||Hannover: Win|
|Juventus: Win||Monchengladbach: Loss|
|Werder Bremen: Win||Ingolstadt: Draw|
|Dortmund: Draw||Hertha BSC: Loss|
|Mainz: Loss||Schalke: Draw|
Playing against a struggling Frankfurt side, Guardiola and Co. may well go all out in attack. Holger Badstuber, Jerome Boateng and Arjen Robben have all been ruled out of the matchday squad due to injuries.
Possible Bayern starting XI: Neuer; Lahm, Kimmich, Alaba; Vidal, Alonso, Thiago; Coman, Muller, Ribery; Lewandowski.
Alexander Meier is the key absentee for Frankfurt, who will sorely miss their star striker. Bamba Anderson, Johannes Flum, Stefan Reinartz, Slobodan Medojevic and Mijat Gacinovic will all miss out on Saturday's action.
Possible Frankfurt starting XI: Hradecky; Chandler, Abraham, Zambrano, Russ, Djakpa; Aigner, Hasebe, Stendera, Ben-Hatira; Seferovic.
Players to Watch
Assuming Guardiola opts to play aggressively, Bayern will have around half-a-dozen attacking talents on the pitch. Kingsley Coman has been in remarkable form as of late, while at least one of Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski have consistently been good for a goal.
For Frankfurt, defense will be the first order. Therefore, the visitors will need the likes of center-back Carlos Zambrano and goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky to be in top form. Haris Seferovic has huge shoes to fill as he plays in Meier's stead, while 20-year-old prodigy Marc Stendera could make a breakthrough in his career.
Robert Lewandowski vs. Carlos Zambrano
Lewandowski may be Bayern's best bet to score, his athleticism being particularly necessary against a physical Frankfurt back line. The Polish striker struck to sink Cologne before the international break, and Bayern may need him to come up aces once more.
Zambrano is a classical, hard-nosed center-back. Notoriously aggressive, he's always willing to put in a crunching challenge and won't show Bayern's forwards too much respect. If Frankfurt are to take a point or more from Saturday's game, they'll need a big game from the Peruvian defender.
Thiago Alcantara vs. Marc Stendera
Thiago Alcantara is Bayern's most technically gifted central midfielder in the attacking third, his dribbling ability and short passing game making him a huge asset to unlocking opposing defenses. With Frankfurt defending deep, the Spaniard may need to be in good form for Bayern to take three points.
Stendera has many similarities to Thiago, although the 20-year-old is still in the early stages of his career. He's one of Germany's top-rated talents in midfield, his dribbling touch, agility and ability to work in tight spaces being his strongest points. Frankfurt will look to him to provide a bit of magic on the counterattack and from set plays.
Odds (courtesy of Odds Shark)