Niko Kovac’s Bayern Munich play host to Mainz in the Bundesliga as they look to move on from their midweek Champions League exit.
A 3-1 second-leg loss to Liverpool at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday ended the Croatian’s hopes of delivering a first European trophy to the club in six years. However, the team have the perfect opportunity to get back on track when they welcome lowly Mainz.
The visitors have been out of sorts lately, falling to four defeats in their last six league matches. That poor run of results and the nature of Mainz’s performances in them should see Bayern record a straightforward victory.
Here’s the team Kovac may select for the clash.
3. Goalkeeper & Defenders
Manuel Neuer (GK) – Once the undisputed best goalkeeper in world football, Neuer has had a sad, steady decline in recent years. His costly mistake against Liverpool captures exactly how far the German has fallen.
Joshua Kimmich (RB) – Though he is slightly lacking in the pace department, the 24-year-old is one of Europe’s most highly-rated full-backs. Having previously operated in midfield, Kimmich has exceptional ability with the ball at his feet.
Mats Hummels (CB) – Joachim Löw brought the curtain down on Hummels’ international career last week, indicating that he, Thomas Müller and Jerome Boateng would not be selected in the future. Germany’s loss is Bayern’s gain; the centre-back’s physicality, positional sense and distribution skills make him one of the best in his position.
Niklas Süle (CB) – A sizeable unit in the heart of Kovac’s defence, the German’s solid displays have helped him force his way in to the side in the place of the more experienced Boateng.
David Alaba (LB) – The Austrian has a wand of a left boot that is equally useful for delivering tantalising crosses and taking shots from distance. He will look to bomb forward against a Mainz side lacking confidence.
Leon Goretzka (CM) – Goretzka has collected six goals and two assists this campaign, a strong showing from the midfielder. His energy and drive will be useful for keeping Bayern’s play at a high tempo.
Thiago (CM) – The silky Spaniard makes the side tick. His immaculate passing skills and intelligence make him the complete modern midfielder and help link the team’s defenders with the attackers.
Serge Gnabry (RW) – After leaving Arsenal for his homeland, Gnabry has displaced the legendary Arjen Robben in this Bayern team. He has earned his place, netting seven times this year to leave him in second place in the club’s scoring charts.
James Rodriguez (CAM) – The Colombian was a ghost at times against the Reds and has since come in for heavy criticism. There will be plenty of pressure on him this weekend to show exactly why the Bundesliga giants brought him in.
Kingsley Coman (LW) – After picking up a minor injury, the Frenchman began Wednesday night’s defeat on the bench. Despite making a cameo appearance, he could not turn the tide with his direct, powerful dribbling.
Robert Lewandowski (ST) – Lewandowski currently leads the race for the golden boot in the league. His tally of 25 in all competitions demonstrates his unerring finishing ability and calmness under pressure; the Mainz defence will certainly be kept occupied.