Location : Allianz Arena
Time: 12:30 EST Saturday, November 26, 2016
Players To Watch
Ugh... where to start. Bayern has been in horrible, horrible form recently. I guess the first players I would watch would be the defenders, as they need to pick their shit up immediately. Hopefully Jerome Boateng can get his act together because he is one of Bayern's most important players and when he doesn't play well, the whole team doesn't play well. There are only two or three people on this team who seem like they know how to play soccer at this point so I would watch them, namely Bernat, Kimmich, Thiago, and Douglas Costa. I hope that Ancelotti starts Bernat because he was one of the few bright spots against Rostov and he deserves to play in this team right now.
Also, depending on whether Neuer plays or not, I will be hoping for a better performance from Ulreich. He wasn't exactly stunning against Rostov and needs to pick it up if he is going to remain Bayern's backup keeper. If not him, then I think Bayern should sign someone with more consistency as many of the other top teams in the world have done, such as Barcelona with Cillessen, Real Madrid with Casilla, United with Romero and Chelsea with Begovic. Bayern made a statement today saying that Neuer should be fit for the match, but in the case that he doesn't play I'll be watching Ulreich carefully.
Finally, I will be hoping for big things from Robben. He is fit for the match so he will likely feature, and I hope he can do some damage.
The main guy that I am going to be watching on Leverkusen is Mr. Benjamin Henrichs. He has been attracting interest due to his excellent performances at the right back position this season and recently received his first German national team call up. He should be an interesting talent for the time to come.
I also will be watching Kevin Volland, who made an expensive switch this summer from Hoffenheim to Leverkusen. So far, he hasn't exactly lit up the league, but judging by his performances at Hoffenheim it won't be long before he picks it up.
Bernd Leno will also be one to watch as he had a horrible performance last weekend vs RB Leipzig. Leno had many admirers for a time --including myself -- but recently he has seemed to have stagnated and perhaps even regressed. Hopefully he can continue his growth and potentially be a replacement for Manuel Neuer in the national team but currently Loris Karius, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and Timo Horn look like more likely candidates.
I am expecting Ancelotti to go with the typical 4-3-3, unless suddenly he has acquired some form of tactical flexibility that I did not know existed in the man. Robben features in my predicted lineup and it will be good to have him back from injury. Neuer also returns from injury and I will be glad to have him back. I think it is possible that Ancelotti will decide to go with Bernat at left back and perhaps even Rafinha at right back, but it is unlikely in a big match where he would probably want experience.
This is the lineup that Leverkusen went with last weekend against Leipzig, so I just put that as the predicted lineup. It's definitely possible that a Volland or Chicharito starts but I don't follow Leverkusen closely enough to know which one will be starting.
Normally, I would predict a Bayern win, but right now I would take a draw. Bayern are in some of the worst form that I have seen from them as a fan (I know, that is saying something) and I worry for this team. Defensively, they seem to struggle hard with high pressing teams such as Dortmund and Atletico, and now even teams like Rostov are figuring out that pressing Bayern aggressively and early on will lead to wins. Roger Schmidt is a smart coach and I know he will try to exploit this so I hope Ancelotti has prepared the team to try and counter this kind of pressing. On the offensive side of things for Bayern, nothing seems to be going right either. Even when Bayern can do something good in the final third, the finishing touch seems to not be there for any of the usual goalscorers. Rather, the goals are coming from players like Douglas Costa and Joshua Kimmich and not Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller (Lewandowski has had a good season so far, but by his standards he is missing a lot of chances and especially the last few games have not gone well for him). I watched Leverkusen's match last Friday vs. Leipzig and they seemed weak mentally as they gave up the lead (classic Leverkusen) so I am hoping that Bayern takes advantage of that weakness in some way. I am going to predict a 1-1 draw and honestly I would be okay with that right now.