Peter Stoger’s men have conceded just once so far in their top-flight return but must face a side whose confidence is beginning to rise
Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich look to be returning to their clinical best ahead of a clash with Koln’s stubborn defence on Saturday.
Pep Guardiola’s side had struggled to finish teams off in the opening exchanges of this term, drawing at Schalke and Hamburg domestically, but they were close to their free-flowing form of old when beating newly promoted Paderborn 4-0 on Tuesday.
Mario Gotze grabbed a double while Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller also struck at the Allianz Arena to secure Bayern’s biggest win of the campaign so far.
“Overall I’m pleased because our build-up play has improved,” the Spanish coach said after the midweek win. “We’re top now, but that’s not what matters at the moment.
“What matters is the way we play.”
Bayern travel to the Bundesliga’s other new boys at the weekend, but they face a Koln backline that has been almost impossible to break down.
Peter Stoger’s side have conceded just once since their top-flight return, although that goal came in a 1-0 defeat to Hannover on Wednesday.
Goalkeeper Tim Horn had played 365 minutes without conceding, but surprisingly expressed relief after Joselu’s effort ended his run of shut-outs.
“The ‘zero’ talk has finally come to an end,” he said. “But now we are on the wrong side of zero, I can’t believe we go home empty-handed.”
Koln are yet to score at their RheinEnergieStadion this campaign, and Stoger expressed a desire to see more attacking intent from his side before their midweek reverse.
Last season’s top scorer Patrick Helmes remains sidelined with a muscle injury, further hampering Koln’s attacking efforts.
Bayern’s recent record at Koln will give Guardiola some cause for confidence as Bayern look for a first road win in the league this term.
Seven of Bayern’s last 10 trips to the Rhine club have ended in victory.
Their last trip – in May 2012 – resulted in a 4-1 win, in a game which featured a brace from Muller and also confirmed Koln’s relegation to the 2. Bundesliga.
Franck Ribery’s knee complaint will be assessed before the match as the Frenchman looks to finally make an impact on a campaign he has featured in just 22 minutes of.
Knee injuries are a feature within the Bayern squad with long-term absentees Holger Badstuber, Javi Martinez, Thiago Alcantara and Bastian Schweinsteiger all out of contention.
Koln have injury concerns of their own with Kazuki Nagasawa (knee) and Dusan Svento (foot) joining Helmes in the treatment room.