The UEFA Champions League has resumed with the competition’s knockout stages this month with Bayern Munich locking horns with Red Bull Salzburg for a place in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.
After a shock defeat in the hands of Bochum during the weekend, Bayern Munich has a tendency to bounce back strongly from defeats, which is a good thing because you can’t afford slip ups in the Champions League.
However, RB Salzburg may not be one of the tournament favorites, but they deserve their place among Europe’s top 16 teams, so, the tie should not be seen as a walk over.
Red Bull Salzburg and Bayern Munich were drawn together in the UEFA Champions League group stage last season, with Bayern winning both games. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.
Bayern are without first-choice goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and key central midfielder Leon Goretzka, but Jamal Musiala could return to the squad after recently being out with Covid.
Alphonso Davies is still sidelined as he rests to ensure no lingering issues from heart inflammation, but manager Julian Nagelsmann recently said he was “well on the road to recovery”.
Neuer’s understudy Sven Ulreich will start in goal against Salzburg tonight. Ulreich conceded four goals in Saturday’s shock 4-2 Bundesliga defeat at newly-promoted Bochum but will still keep his place between the pole tonight.
The defense would likely be another variant of the back-three that we saw against RB Leipzig looking for stability at the back.
Nagelsmann on defensive problems:
“Of course, when you concede four goals, the defense is criticized. Overall, we stabilized at the back, but had dropouts vs. Bochum & Gladbach. We are by far the team who wins possession the most in Europe. It’s always a mixture of many things.”
Bayern used 4-man defense in both defeats and would likely change to 3-man defense which means putting Lucas Hernandez, Niklas Sule, and Benjamin Pavard together with Upamecano likely to be dropped.
so all three of Kingsley Coman, Serge Gnabry, and Leroy Sane will be expected to play given Bayern a wealth of attacking options.
Up ahead in midfield, Corentin Tolisso could get a chance to impress in the absence of Goretzka, with Marcel Sabitzer missing out.
Honestly, given that Champions League games are not the place where you want to experiment, we’ll assume that Kimmich and Tolisso will start together in midfield on Wednesday
Tolisso will be the box-to-box midfielder in the double-pivot, with Joshua Kimmich taking charge of the midfield from a deep-lying position.
Thomas Muller will reprise the No. 10 role, with veteran playmaker also donning the armband for Bayern Munich in Neuer’s absence with Robert Lewandowski spearheading the Bayern Munich attack against Red Bull Salzburg.
Predicted Lineup (3-4-3): Ulreich; Pavard, Sule, Hernandez; Coman, Kimmich, Tolisso, Gnabry ; Muller, Lewandowski, Sane
- Red Bull Salzburg’s only previous meetings with Bayern Munich came in the UEFA Champions League last season, with the German side winning both games in the group stage (6-2 away and 3-1 at home).
- Wednesday will be the fourth time Bayern Munich will face an Austrian team in the knockout stages of a European competition, while they have progressed on each of the previous three occasions (vs SK Rapid Wien in the 1966/67 Cup Winners’ Cup and FK Austria Wien in consecutive European Cup campaigns in 1985/86 and 1986/87).
- Red Bull Salzburg have only won one of their last six games against German opponents in European competition (D1 L4), although that did come in the most recent home game against a German side (3-1 vs Wolfsburg in the group stage). They have conceded 18 goals across these six games, at an average of three per match.
- Bayern Munich are unbeaten in their last 21 away games in the UEFA Champions League (W17 D4) since losing at Paris Saint-Germain back in September 2017. This is the longest run of consecutive away games without losing for any team in the history of the European Cup/UEFA Champions League.
- Robert Lewandowski has made 49 away appearances in the UEFA Champions League, netting 37 goals in these games. Ahead of what would be a half-century of away games in the competition, Lewandowski already holds the record for the most goals scored within a player’s first 50 games on the road in the UEFA Champions League (37, three more than Lionel Messi’s 34).
- Only Sebastien Haller (10) has scored more goals than Lewandowski (9) in the Champions League this season, with the veteran striker averaging a goal every 57 minutes. And if Bayern Munich are to make short work of Red Bull Salzburg, Lewandowski’s output will be crucial.
- Leroy Sané scored 5 goals and made 4 assists in six appearances in the Champions League this season. Only Sébastien Haller (12) and Robert Lewandowski (11) had a hand in more goals in the group stage. #UCL
Julian Nagelsmann’s side wrapped up a perfect group stage with six wins from six and will be strong favourites across the two legs, meaning Salzburg will need a big performance on home soil here.
While Bayern Munich will understandably be the strong favourites to win on Wednesday, however, Salzburg are likely to have their moments on home soil and they will be confident of getting their name on the scoresheet against a Bayern side who have conceded in four of their last five matches.
However, the prolific form of star man Lewandowski should be enough to help the visitors secure a healthy first-leg advantage.
Both teams to score
Lewandowski to score
Sane to assist, and
Bayern to win 3-1