Sure, it may take a while to get used to the sound of obnoxious rounds of clapping from assistant managers, but on the whole, the Bundesliga made a pretty successful (and much-needed) return – following a two-month COVID hiatus – last weekend.
And despite the lengthy lay-off, it was business as usual for Hansi Flick’s Bayern Munich as they sauntered to a 2-0 victory over a rugged Union Berlin side.
The result meant they maintained their four-point lead over Borussia Dortmund at the summit of the German top-flight following BVB’s imperious showing in the Revierderby.
Adi Hütter’s Eintracht Frankfurt, meanwhile, will be looking to pull a rabbit out of the hat when they travel to the Allianz on Saturday. Hütter’s men were overwhelmingly second best in their 3-1 defeat to Marco Rose’s Borussia Monchengladbach and they now sit 13th in the table, just five points adrift of the relegation play-off.
Die Adler are in desperate need of an upsurge in form heading into the quick-fire conclusion to the campaign.
How to Watch on TV
When is Kick Off?: Saturday 23 May
What Time is Kick Off?: 17:30 (BST)
Where is it Played?: Allianz Arena
TV Channel/Live Stream: BT Sport (UK), fuboTV (US)
Flick will be without Philippe Coutinho and Corentin Tolisso as they continue to nurse ankle injuries following their respective surgeries.
Niklas Sule is back in training following his recovery from a long-term knee injury but he’s unlikely to start in this one, while a decision over Javi Martinez’s fitness will be made closer to kick-off.
Nevertheless, there is scope for the Bayern boss to rotate ahead of the gargantuan Klassiker on Tuesday evening.
Frankfurt will be without Gonçalo Paciência – who impressed as a substitute last weekend – due to a thigh strain, while Dominik Kohr is suspended.
Andre Silva is set for a starting berth up top after scoring off the bench last time out and this will likely see Bas Dost drop down to the bench.
Bayern: Neuer; Pavard, Boateng, Alaba, Hernandez; Thiago, Goretzka; Coman, Müller, Perisic; Lewandowski
Eintracht Frankfurt: Trapp; Toure, Abraham, Hinteregger, N’Dicka; Rode, Ilsanker; Chandler, Kamada, Kostic; Silva
There have been a total of 102 fixtures between the two sides and Bayern have unsurprisingly been dominant.
The Bavarian side have ?53 wins and 22 draws in the Bundesliga, while Die Adler have come out on top on just 21 occasions.
The reverse fixture back in October, however, saw Hütter’s side thump a ten-man Die Roten 5-1 in what proved to be Niko Kovac’s last game in charge.
Well, I suppose to judge ‘recent’ form, we can only go off what we saw last weekend.
While Union’s capacity to limit space ensured Bayern weren’t at their absolute best last weekend, there were nonetheless some examples of spellbinding positional play from Flick’s men which perfectly complied with social distancing guidelines.
The Alphonso Davies x Serge Gnabry dynamic down the left flank continued to be telepathic, while Die Roten’s high defensive line blunted the hosts’ direct tactic. In the end, however, it was a pair of set-pieces which got the the job done for the table-toppers.
Eintracht, meanwhile, will have to improve exponentially if they’re to get a result in this one.
Hütter’s typically vertical side were forced into an ineffective long-ball game against a high-pressing Gladbach unit in their return to action as they were beaten 3-1. The visitors’ fluidity, structure and directness were simply too much for a poor Eintracht outfit.
Here’s how these two have fared in their last five outings:
Union Berlin 0-2 Bayern (17/05)
Bayern 2-0 Augsburg (08/03)
Hoffenheim 0-6 Bayern (29/02)
Chelsea 0-3 Bayern (25/02)
Bayern 3-2 Paderborn (21/02)
Eintracht 1-3 Gladbach (16/05)
Leverkusen 4-0 Eintracht (07/03)
Eintracht 1-2 Union Berlin (24/02)
Dortmund 4-0 Eintracht (14/02)
Eintracht 5-0 Augsburg (07/02)
A whole lot has changed since these two last met; Bayern have gone on to establish themselves as arguably the best side on the planet, while Eintracht have fallen into the relegation battle after failing to competently replace the fearsome front three from last season.
And you feel like there can only be one winner on Saturday. This Bayern side will only improve as the games go on, while – apart from the final 15 minutes – Eintracht proved to be just as incompetent as they were before the break, losing their fourth game on the spin.
Flick’s side should ease to victory ahead of Tuesday’s all-important trip to Dortmund.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 3-0 Eintracht Frankfurt