Werder Bremen vs Bayern Munich: Niko Kovac’s Best Available Die Roten Lineup

?Bayern Munich travel to Weser Stadium to face Werder Bremen, hoping to reach the final of the DFB-Pokal for the 23rd time.

Bayern have won the competition a record 18 times but haven’t lifted the trophy since 2016, when they beat Borussia Dortmund on penalties.

Niko Kovac’s men are a point clear of Borussia Dortmund, at the top of the ?Bundesliga, a win here could take them a step closer to a league and cup double – something they haven’t achieved in three seasons.

If they progress, Bayern will face Hamburger or RB Leipzig in the final on 19 May at the Olympiastadion.

Here’s how Kovac could set his side out for this important match. 


Goalkeeper & Defenders

David Alaba

Sven Ulreich (GK) – A calf injury sidelined starting keeper Manuel Neuer in the league match against Fortuna Dusseldorf and he is unlikely to be fit for this game. Ulreich started the round of 16 and quarter-final matches and is a capable deputy for the 2014 World Cup winner.

Joshua Kimmich (RB) – The 24-year-old was rested in the early rounds of the tournament but has started every game since the round of 16, as Kovac realised the importance of the competition.

Jerome Boateng (CB) – With Niklas Sule suspended, ?Boateng should slot into his place seamlessly. The veteran defender has won 12 cups during his career and will want to add a lucky 13th in May.

Mats Hummels (CB) – Entering a decade at ?Bayern, Hummels may not be at the peak of his powers but is still the best defender at the club.

David Alaba (LB) – When fit, the Austrian international starts, nothing changes here. One of Bayern’s most consistent performers this season, he’s one of the first names on Kovac’s team sheet.


Midfielders

Thiago Alcantara,Max Kruse

Serge Gnabry (RW) – Leaving Arsenal was the best thing to happen to the 23-year-old, as his career has gone from strength to strength since. 12 goals and nine assist this season is evidence of that and he will be confident of adding to that tally against the team he netted twice against earlier this campaign

Thiago Alcantara (CM) – The former Barcelona man has featured in every DFB-Pokal tie this season, and that run should continue against Werder Bremen.

Leon Goretzka (CM) – Since arriving from ?Schalke in the summer, Goretzka has made an immediate impact at Bayern – contributing towards 14 goals in 37 appearances. 

?Thomas Muller (CAM) – The vice-captain is an ever present in the cup this year, and is still an important part of Kovac’s plans.

Franck Ribery (LW) – With his contract expiring at the end of the season, the 35-year-old will want to end his 12 years at the club with his 21st trophy. 


Forward

Robert Lewandowski

Robert Lewandowski (ST) – 186 goals in 236 games shows all you need to know about Lewandowski’s finishing prowess. He’s Bayern’s top scorer this season and has scored three goals in as many games in the cup.

Let’

Werder Bremen vs Bayern Munich: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

Wednesday night brings DFB-Pokal semi-final action, with Niko Kovac’s Bayern Munich looking to take another step towards securing yet another domestic double.

The Bavarians are currently top of the Bundesliga by one point, having recently overhauled rivals Borussia Dortmund after a disappointing start to the campaign.

They have really found their stride of late and will be full of confidence against a Werder Bremen ?side, who they defeated at the weekend in the league thanks to Niklas Sule’s header 15 minutes from time.

That game took place at the Allianz Arena, but Werder will play host to their more illustrious opponents on this occasion – and will harbour hopes of causing an upset, where the winners will take on either Hamburger SV or RB Leipzig.


Where to Watch

When Is Kick Off? Wednesday 24 April
What Time Is Kick Off? 19:45 (BST)
Where Is it Played? Weser Stadium
TV Channel/Live Stream? N/A

Team News

?Bayern have no fresh injury concerns heading into the cup semi-final, but they will be without Arjen Robben and Manuel Neuer, both of whom are sidelined with calf problems, and weekend match winner Sule, who is suspended.

Mats Hummels will be recalled as a result and Leon Goretzka, who was a second half substitute against Werder at the weekend, may also return in place of Javi Martinez.

Nuri Sahin,Ludwig Augustinsson

Werder could be without Max Kruse, after he suffered a bruised thigh in the weekend loss to Bayern. Fin Bartels remains out for the home side, while former Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Nuri Sahin is suspended.


Predicted Lineups

Werder Bremen Pavlenka; Selassie, Veljkovi?, Moisander, Augustinsson; M. Eggestein, Bargfrede, Klaassen, J. Eggestein, Harnik, Rashica
Bayern Mun Ulreich; Kimmich, Hummels, Boateng, Alaba; Thiago, Goretzka; Gnabry, Müller, Ribery; Lewandowski.


Head to Head Record

Saturday’s defeat was Werder’s 19th consecutive defeat to Bayern in all competitions, which is now the longest losing streak in history for any club against a fellow Bundesliga? side.

FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-BREMEN-BAYERN MUNICH

A double from wideman Serge Gnabry saw Die Roten claim the points last time out at Weser Stadium in December. The ex-Arsenal player opened the scoring after lashing home a rebound, only to see his side pegged back by Yuya Osako.

Gnabry notched a second half winner, though, with Sule’s winning goal on Saturday meaning Bayern have completed yet another league double over Bremen.


Recent Form

Bayern have scored 18 goals in their last five fixtures, the 5-0 destruction of Dortmund bookended by 5-4 and 4-1 wins against Heidenheim and Fortuna. Saturday’s narrow victory over Bremen means it’s four wins in a row, with SC Freiburg the last side to stop Niko Kovac’s men in their tracks.

Serge Gnabry,David Alaba,Thiago Alcantara,Robert Lewandowski

Werder, meanwhile, were unbeaten in the Bundesliga this year until Saturday’s clash, so they will still feel confident of overcoming their more illustrious opponents at home.

They will also take comfort from the fact that they have not lost a DFB-Pokal clash at home since 1988 – an astonishing 37-game run that spans 31 years.

Here are how each side have performed in their last five games.

Werder Bremen

Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich 1-0 Werder Bremen (20/04) Bayern Munich 1-0 Werder Bremen (20/04)
Werder Bremen 2-1 Freiburg (13/04) Bayern Munich 5-0 Borussia Dortmund (06/04)
Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-1 Werder Bremen(07/04) Bayern Munich 5-4 Heidenheim (03/04)
Schalke 0-2 Werder Bremen (03/04) Freiburg 1-1 Bayern Munich (30/03)
Werder Bremen 3-1 Mainz (30/3) Bayern Munich 6-0 Mainz (17/03)

Prediction

Werder’s superb form this calendar year was undone at the weekend by a rampant Bayern side who seem hell bent on proving their ?Bundesliga doubters wrong.

That said, Bremen do possess an incredible record in the DFB-Pokal at home – 37 games unbeaten is certainly a record that shouldn’t be scoffed at. With Niklas Sule missing at the heart of Bayern’s defence, and Manuel Neuer still missing between the sticks, the hosts will really fancy their chances.

Theodor Gebre Selassie

Bayern have scored five goals or more in three of their last five games, but all of those have come at home. Their struggles away are well documented, and it could be time for another cup upset.

Prediction: Werder Bremen 2-1 Bayern Munich


Let’

European Title Races: 5 Leagues Still Up for Grabs in the Final Weeks of the 2018/19 Season

?Juventus were crowned Serie A champions over the weekend for the eighth straight year after victory over Fiorentina saw them stay 20 points ahead of second place Napoli, who can only get a maximum of 18 more points this season.

Paris Saint-Germain also wrapped up the Ligue 1 title in France with five games to spare over Easter weekend as Kylian Mbappe netted a hat-trick against former club Monaco. It is PSG’s sixth domestic triumph in the last six seasons as their dominance continues.

Elsewhere, Barcelona are nine points clear at the top of La Liga and just two wins away from securing a eighth Spanish title in the last 11 seasons.

What’s more, it remains difficult to predict these incredible reigns coming to an end.

But it isn’t quite so straightforward in several other countries across Europe, with the following five leagues still enjoying incredibly close title battles as 2018/19 nears its conclusion.


Süper Lig (Turkey)

Emre Belozoglu

Contenders: Istanbul Basaksehir, Galatasaray

Fixtures Remaining: 5

Istanbul Basaksehir lead traditional giants Galatasaray by three points after 29 rounds of fixtures in the Süper Lig and could become only the sixth different club to be crowned Turkish champions.

Bursaspor in 2010 were the last club other than Turkey’s big three to finish top of the pile, while Trabzonspor are the only other to break the stranglehold, but their last title came in 1984.

Promoted to the top flight as recently as 2014 and impressively finishing as Süper Lig runners up in the 2016/17 season, Basaksehir’s current squad includes notable veterans Emmanuel Adebayor, Robinho, Gael Clichy, Demba Ba, Gokhan Inler and Emre Belozoglu.

They are tasked with travelling across Istanbul to face Galatasaray at the Türk Telekom Arena in a potential title decider in the season’s penultimate gameweek on 19 May.

?Club P? ?GD Pts?
?Istanbul Basaksehir 29? ?+29 ?62
?Galatasaray ?29 +33? ?59
??Besiktas 28? +23? ?53
?Trabzonspor 29? +14? 52?

Primeira Liga (Portugal)

FBL-POR-LIGA-PORTO-MARITIMO

Contenders: Porto, Benfica

Fixtures Remaining: 4/5

This season’s Portuguese title race is a two-way fight between old rivals Benfica and Porto, who could go into the final four games level on points if the former wins their game in hand on Monday night.

Porto won the title by a comfortable margin last season, but Benfica still hold the overall Portuguese record for most national league titles with 36, compared to Porto’s 28.

Sporting CP, despite a troubled summer last year that saw Rui Patricio, William Carvalho, Gelson Martins leave the club, are impressively only eight points off the pace, although that is too much of a gap to mount any sort of late title challenge at this late stage.

Club P GD Pts
Porto 30 +45 75
Benfica 29 +55 72
Sporting CP 30 +31 67
Braga 30 +23 64

Eredivisie (Netherlands)

FBL-NED-EREDIVISIE-AJAX-PSV

Contenders: Ajax, PSV Eindhoven

Fixtures Remaining: 3

Ajax have wowed Europe with an impressive Champions League run that has so far included away wins against Real Madrid and Juventus in the knockout stages, but the Amsterdam club are not having it all their own way back home in the Eredivisie.

They remain locked on the same number of points as reigning champions PSV Eindhoven, with both clubs having just three games left to play in a very tense race.

Ajax haven’t won the Dutch title since the 2013/14 season, the last of four in a row under the guidance of former captain Frank de Boer. PSV have won three out of the four since, with the other one going to Feyenoord in 2016/17.

Ajax can still win a treble this season as the KNVB Cup final also looms in May.

Club P GD Pts
Ajax 31 +78 77
PSV Eindhoven 31 +68 77
Feyenoord 31 +29 59
AZ Alkmaar 31 +21 52

Bundesliga (Germany)

Robert Lewandowski,Marco Reus

Contenders: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund

Fixtures Remaining: 4

Bayern Munich have recovered from a poor first half of the season to reel in early leaders and title hopefuls Borussia Dortmund, to the point where the Bavarians now lead the standings by a point with only four games each left to play.

Bayern had won six Bundesliga titles in a row prior to this season and are looking to make it seven, while Dortmund are the last club other than Bayern to finish top of the pile in Germany.

With Dortmund out of Europe and out of this season’s DFB Pokal – Bayern have a cup semi final later this month – the league is the only thing the young squad has to focus on.

Club P GD Pts
Bayern Munich 30 +50 70
Borussia Dortmund 30 +36 69
RB Leipzig 30 +34 61
Eintracht Frankfurt 29 +23 52

Premier League (England)

Virgil van Dijk,Sergio Aguero

Contenders: Liverpool, Manchester City

Fixtures Remaining: 3/4

In 2018/19, Manchester City and Liverpool are likely to record the second and third best points tallies ever seen in a Premier League season, but only one can be crowned champions.

If City, who managed a never before seen tally of 100 points last season, can continue winning the title will be theirs again. But anything less than a perfect record in the remaining four games would open the door for Liverpool, who have just three games left.

The defining game of the season could be Wednesday night’s Manchester derby between City and local rivals United. Despite being at a low ebb this time last year, United delayed City’s title celebrations with an unexpected derby win and are at a similarly low point now.

If Liverpool can do it, it will be their first English league title since 1990.

Club P GD Pts
Liverpool 35 +59 88
Manchester City 34 +65 86
Tottenham Hotspur 34 +29 67
Arsenal 34 +25 66

Let’

Renato Sanches Insists He ‘Just Wants to Play’ as Bit-Part Role at Bayern Munich Continues

Bayern Munich midfielder Renato Sanches has admitted he is frustrated with his reduced role at the club, hinting that he is open to a summer move.

The 21-year-old was once regarded as one of the finest young prospects in world football after some remarkable displays for Portugal helped his country surprisingly win the European Championship in 2016.

Franck Ribery,Renato Sanches,Corentin Tolisso

But Sanches’ career has been somewhat of a downward curve since then, with a €35m (potentially rising to €80m) move to ?Bayern Munich failing to work out as expected, coupled with a disastrous loan spell at Swansea last year.

He has been a peripheral figure at Bayern this season, and Sanches has now told German publication ?Sport1 that a move away from the club is likely, given that he’s keen to play as much as possible.

“I think so,” Sanches said. “But whether a loan or a sale is better I do not know. We have one more month I’ll see what’s best for me It does not matter if it’s in Portugal, England or Spain, I just want to play.”

He continued by stating that he has no problem with manager Niko Kovac, but re-affirmed his belief that the minimal game time that he is currently receiving in Bavaria will not be enough to keep him happy, despite being at a club of Bayern’s stature.

“He’s the coach, I’m the player, I respect his opinion, I just work and train. Five minutes are not enough. My colleagues and my coach know that in every training I do my best to be ready when I play five or ten, or 45 or 90 minutes.”

Dayot Upamecano,Stefan Ilsanker,Renato Sanches

Sanches is likely to have a number of potential suitors lining up to sign him, though he may find himself looking at a move to a club not contesting European football next campaign, given his lack of playing time this season.

Let’

Man Utd Make Enquiry for Bayern Munich Star Niklas Sule in Bid to Bolster Defensive Ranks

?Manchester United have made an enquiry to Bayern Munich over the signing of defender Niklas Sule ahead of a potential summer move.

The German centre back has enjoyed a fine season in Bavaria in which he has established himself as first choice under Niko Kovac, ahead of seasoned compatriot Jerome Boateng. Sule even scored the winner in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Werder Bremen.

The 23-year-old has been a key figure among a wave of young stars who look set to steer ?Bayern on course to their latest Bundesliga title this season. According to ?Sport1, Sule’s impressive displays have led ?Manchester United to lodge an enquiry for the powerful defender.

Having conceded 48 goals in the Premier League this term, a number which exceeds that of all their top six rivals, United must seek to improve their defensive resolve next season.

Victor Lindelof has developed into a key figure at centre half under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but the likes of Chris Smalling and ?Phil Jones remain unconvincing, despite both recently signing new contracts at Old Trafford.

Niklas Suele,Kingsley Coman

The recent elimination from the Champions League quarter finals at the hands of Barcelona was further evidence that the Red Devils do not possess a rear-guard capable of standing up to the top sides.

United were all too easily dispatched by Lionel Messi and co at Camp Nou and, if Solskjaer is to take his side forward next term, their defensive work must be worked on.

Kalidou Koulibaly has been regularly linked with a big-money switch to Old Trafford, but the Senegal international is likely to command a huge fee and, at 27, Sule could represent a better value long-term investment.

However, given his rise to prominence as a key figure for Bayern this term, Sule is unlikely to come cheap, and United may have to dig deep into their vast finances this summer to land their top targets.

Let’