Defeat at Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday means perpetual Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich are staring down the barrel of their first trophy-less season since 2011/12.
Should Bayer overcome their ‘Neverkusen’ tag and finally bring to an end Bayern’s reign of terror over German football, Thomas Tuchel’s side will have to turn to the Champions League for their sole source of silverware this term.
Despite waltzing through the group phase yet again, this Bayern side are not considered among the favourites to win this year’s competition. However, they have been aided by a kind round of 16 draw which sees them duel a pretty mediocre Lazio outfit.
Bayern will play the first leg in Rome on Wednesday, and here’s how Tuchel could set his side up for it.
GK: Manuel Neuer – The Bayern stalwart was deemed fit to start on Saturday, but there wasn’t much he could do to prevent the visitors from succumbing.
RB: Noussair Mazraoui – January arrival Sacha Boey struggled to assert himself at the BayArena, so Mazraoui should continue at right-back in midweek.
CB: Dayot Upamecano – Upamecano had a tough outing in Leverkusen and Tuchel could drop him on Wednesday given Lazio’s rather tame threat in behind. Matthijs de Ligt is available if the Frenchman drops to the bench.
CB: Kim Min-jae – Kim endured a chastening week having also lost to Jordan in the semi-finals of the Asian Cup. Still, the South Korean star will keep his place in Rome.
LB: Raphael Guerreiro – A return to the 4-2-3-1 should see Guerreiro make a rare start at left-back in Alphonso Davies’ absence.
CM: Joshua Kimmich – Kimmich was fit enough to earn minutes off the bench at the weekend, with the midfielder set to return to the starting lineup against Lazio.
CM: Leon Goretzka – Konrad Laimer is an option for Tuchel should he recover in time, but the boss is set to retain the experienced Goretzka in the middle of the park and rely on his abilities without the ball.
RM: Leroy Sane – The camera slapper has remarkably now gone 16 games without a goal having enjoyed such a productive start to the season.
AM: Thomas Muller – Was Muller ranting or merely speaking German in his animated post-match presser on Saturday? Nevertheless, the veteran has rarely suffered defeats such as that and he’ll be looking to put things right in midweek.
LM: Jamal Musiala – The absence of Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman should see Musiala drift out wide and operate as an auxiliary winger.
ST: Harry Kane – Kane’s chances of finally claiming a major piece of silverware are slimming in year one at Bayern, although he’ll be keen to add to his impressive Champions League record in Rome.
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