Picking the Best Potential Bayern Munich Lineup to Face Mainz on Saturday

Bayern ?Munich travel to the Opel Arena on Saturday to take on Mainz in an effort to make it 10 wins on the trot.

Die Roten have an excellent record against Mainz, winning nine of the last 12 meetings, albeit two of the last four have ended in a draw and loss for the German champions.

With a congested fixture list coming up and another long trip to Paderborn in the DFB-Pokal on Tuesday, Jupp Heynckes has stated “rotation is key” with the Champions League knockouts just around the corner.

Torhüter

  • Ulreich

    Ulreich26

?A fairly unsurprising choice: Manuel Neuer remains injured for the foreseeable future and Sven Ulreich has impressed since Heynckes returned to management. 

Verteidigung

  • Rafinha

    Rafinha13

  • Hummels

    Hummels5

  • Süle

    Süle4

  • Bernat

    Bernat14

?Joshua Kimmich played the lion’s share of the two last matches against Werder Bremen and Hoffenheim and could make way for Rafinha, who Heynckes is reportedly in favour of keeping.

Mats Hummels, naturally, provides strength to the backline, while Niklas Süle has thoroughly impressed in his back-up role, but Jérôme Boateng may come in for his 150th Bundesliga appearance.

Heynckes stated David Alaba “had some problems” in his pre-match press conference and may hand Juan Bernat only his fourth Bundesliga start this season.

Mittelfeld

Javi Martínez has been a reinvigorated since returning to his holding midfield role under Heynckes. This then has the knock-on effect of freeing up Corentin Tolisso into his natural box-to-box role.

Thomas Müller is also returning to his best form in being allowed to incorporate his unique Raumdeuter role, and may well be given space by pacy duo Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben on the wings.

Sturm

  • Lewandowski

    Lewandowski9

?Sandro Wagner suffered an ankle setback on Wednesday, following a challenge by Mats Hummels, but tests revealed it was a minor injury and he has since returned to full training.

Heynckes stated in the press conference Wagner will travel with the team, but sticking with Bundesliga top scorer Robert Lewandowski for an hour or so may be wise.

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Thiago Alacantara Could Make Bayern Return in Matter of Weeks After Productive Training Sessions

Bayern ?Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara may return to Bayern first team action in the coming weeks after making progress in training.

Thiago picked up a thigh strain in the Champions League victory over Anderlecht in the latter half of November, with the club prediciting he would be out for a “long spell”.

The former Barcelona players has picked up several minor setbacks with the German champions since a lengthy injury sustained in 2014, which ruled him out for almost half a year.

Hannover 96 v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga

?BILD reported on Tuesday the Spaniard spent twenty minutes training with the first team, before returning to his individual rehab process at Säbener Straße.

On Wednesday, ?BILD then said Thiago upped his progress by completing an hour of training, before going to say he is scheduled for a return by the end of February.

The comeback meant Manuel Neuer was the only absentee from the Bayern squad at training, after suffering a metatarsal injury at the start of the season.

FC Schalke 04 v Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga

Thiago has made fifteen appearances this season for Bayern – featuring eleven starts – with three goals to his name.

?Die Roten next face Mainz on Saturday afternoon, but Thiago – if the report is accurate – could be fit for the Champions Leg first leg against Besiktas or the following match against Hertha BSC.


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FSV Mainz vs. FC Bayern München Preview: Classic Encounter, Key Battle, Team News & More

?FC Bayern München travel to the Opel Arena on Saturday afternoon, aiming to reaffirm their sixteen-point lead stranglehold at the summit of the Bundesliga.

Die Roten are undefeated since succumbing at the hands of classic rivals and bogey team Borussia Mönchengladbach in late November, winning nine games on the bounce since.

FC Bayern Muenchen v TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - Bundesliga

Mainz are in the heat of a relegation fight and sit just three points above Werder Bremen, who occupy the play-off spot. The Karnevalsverein have won just two in their last nine – both coming against VfB Stuttgart.

However, the home side can take motivation from the fact Bayern struggled in their last two encounters, with Bremen putting up a strong fight and Hoffenheim taking an initial two-goal lead, before eventually winning both.

Classic Encounter

FC Bayern Muenchen v 1. FSV Mainz 05 - Bundesliga

Unsurprisingly with Mainz being one of the minnows in the league and Bayern being the dominant side, recent affairs are one-sided.

Mainz have won just one of the last nine meetings against the German champions, which came in the latter half of the 2015/16 at the Allianz Arena.

Martin Schmidt’s side took a shock lead after Jairo Sampeiro finished off a swift counter, feat some poor marking, albeit Christian Clemens was offside in the build-up.

Though making several top quality saves, Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius was beaten from range by Arjen Robben as a strong Bayern side looked to reassert themselves.

But it wasn’t to be: Mainz worked their way down the right-hand side and were able to release the ball to Jhon Cordoba on the edge of the box, who accurately fired home the winner past Manuel Neuer late on.

Of course, this particular Nullfünfer side were much better equipped than the present team, and ended up finishing sixth in the table – a best-ever finish.

Key Battle

Bayer 04 Leverkusen v 1. FSV Mainz 05 - Bundesliga

Alexander Hack vs. Robert Lewandowski

Having conceded the joint most goals in the Bundesliga this season, Mainz will have their work cut out for them against the top scorers.

Alexander Hack has proven himself a formidable defender and leader on the pitch, but will be put to the test by one of the world’s finest strikers in Robert Lewandowski.

Hack has only featured in five games this season, but has looked a force in each one, despite only winning on two occasions. Typically, the Pole has been in exquisite form: with eighteen goals in nineteen league appearances, Lewandowski remains the top scorer and looks set to reclaim the Torjägerkanone.

Standing at 6ft1, the Mainz centre-half has a height advantage over Lewandowski, but the former Borussia Dortmund forward has proven himself an intelligent player on the pitch, and shall likely press his marker into mistakes, aided by pacey wingers either side.

Team News

FC Bayern Muenchen Doha Training Camp

Summer signing René Adler shall remain out for Mainz in the long-term after sustaining a sever muscle injury in late October. Moreover, Karim Onisiwo is expected to be sidelined, following shoulder surgery in the same month.

As for Bayern, Sven Ulreich shall likely assume the role of number one shot-stopper with Manuel Neuer still recovering from a metatarsal fracture, while injuries continue to plague Thiago Alcantara who is out with a lengthy muscle setback.

Rafinha and Arturo Vidal are one booking away from a suspension, each sitting on four yellow cards. The Chilean was sidelined with a stomach infection, while Sandro Wagner failed to complete Wednesday’s training session.

Jupp Heynckes stated in his pre-match press conference “rotation is key” and that he will field a competitive team. A weaker side may be used for Tuesday’s DFB-Pokal clash against 3. Liga outfit SC Paderborn. 

Potential Mainz Starting Lineup: Zentner, Donati, Hack, Diallo, Brosinski, Gbamin, de Jong, Serdar, Latza, Quaison, Muto.

Potential Bayern Starting Lineup: Ulreich, Rafinha, Hummels, Süle, Bernat, Rudy Tolisso, Ribéry, Müller, Robben, Lewandowski.

Prediction

Die Roten shall take comfort from the fact they easily dispatched of Mainz 4:0 in the reverse fixture in September.

Mainz looked flat and lethargic in the loss to Bayer Leverkusen and have only kept two clean sheets in their last seventeen matches, conceding 29 in that time.

Bayern will be wary of the congested fixture list looming and likely may not press as intensely as they have against other weaker side. However, having scored twelve in their last three games, it is difficult to see anything other than an ‘Auswärtssieg’.

Score Prediction – Mainz 0:3 Bayern München

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Bayern Manager Jupp Heynckes Says Arturo Vidal’s Place Is Guaranteed While He Is In Charge

?Jupp Heynckes has assured Arturo Vidal that he will keep his place in Bayern Munich’s side while he is in charge at the Allianz Arena.

Vidal has been ?linked with a move to Premier League sides Manchester United and Chelsea following reports that the Chilean had been told he would be free to leave the German champions in the summer.

Heynckes, who is currently in interim charge at Bayern until the season following the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti in September, appears to have a different opinion on Vidal, as he told German publication ?Kicker:

 “Arturo is a guaranteed starter for me. He doesn’t need to worry about his place. He is a class player who we need in the big games.”

Vidal has scored 6 goals in seventeen Bundesliga appearances this season, his best return in Germany since he joined Bayern from Juventus in July 2015 for a fee of €37m.

Bayern currently sit 16 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, and if they go on to convert that into the title, it will be Vidal’s seventh consecutive national title across his time with both Juventus and Bayern.

Though Vidal looks set to enjoy another successful club season, his international exploits have been less satisfying in recent years, after a final day defeat to Brazil in November meant that his Chile side missed out on qualification for this summer’s World Cup in Russia.


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8 January Transfer Deals From Around Europe That May Have Gone Under the Radar

This season’s January transfer window did not disappoint as the Gods of football once again ?produced some tasty transfer deals to stir up the ongoing drama this campaign.

Deals for the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Philippe Coutinho, Alexis Sanchez and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang understandably stole this month’s headlines in the ?Premier League.

But what was going on elsewhere on the continent? Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting deals from Europe’s other top leagues that you may have missed.

8. Sandro Wagner

From: TSG 1899 Hoffenheim

To: FC Bayern Munich

Fee: €12m

Germany forward Sandro Wagner came full circle upon the completion of his return to boyhood club ?Bayern, as the striker re-signed for the club who had let him go a decade earlier. 

Wagner made four Bundesliga appearances for the Bavarians during the 2007/08 season, before stints at MSV Duisburg, Werder Bremen, 1. FC Kaiserslautern, Hertha Berlin, Darmstadt 98 and finally 1899 Hoffenheim – where Wagner earned a place in Germany’s national side.

His goalscoring antics triggered former employers Bayern to make a move to secure their former youth teamer as backup to Robert Lewandowski.

7. Lassana Diarra

From: Free Agent

To: Paris Saint-Germain

Fee: Free Transfer

Perhaps one of the stranger January deals involves Ligue 1 heavyweights PSG swooping for former Chelsea, Arsenal, Portsmouth and Real Madrid midfield anchor Lassana Diarra. 

The 32-year-old was unattached following the termination of his contract with UAE Pro-League club Al Jazira, prompting Unai Emery to secure the services of the well-travelled Frenchman on a free transfer, with FFP regulations looming over the French capital.

6. Rafinha

From: Barcelona

To: Inter 

Fee: Loan

Brazilian Rafinha finally ended his seven-year stint in Catalonia with a move to Italian giants Inter. 

The playmaker had long been linked with a move away from Barça having found consistent game time hard to come by at the Nou Camp, with the likes of ?Arsenal and ?Liverpool reportedly showing an interest. 

Inter, however, won the race for his signature in a deal which involves a €35m option to buy the player permanently at the end of the season.

5. Iñigo Martinez

From: Real Sociedad

To: Athletic Bilbao

Fee: €32m

Without doubt the window’s most controversial move saw Real Sociedad stalwart I?igo Martinez cross the Basque-divide to sign for bitter rivals Athletic Club. 

Athletic triggered the central defender’s €32m release clause following ?the sale of Aymeric Laporte to ?Manchester City sparking outrange among Sociedad fans who have highlighted the hypocrisy of the move with Martinez previously stating on record that he would never sign for a rival.

Real Sociedad have even offered change shirts with Martinez’s named printed on the back for free to irate fans.

4. Pietro Pellegri

From: Genoa

To: Monaco

Fee: €25m

Monaco won the hotly anticipated race for the signature of Italian wonderkid Pietro Pellegri ahead of Italian champions Juventus

The 16-year-old had been the subject of interest from a host of Europe’s top clubs – including Arsenal – before a January tussle ensued between Monaco and ?the Old Lady.

The Ligue 1 holders eventually secured a deal for Pellegri with one eye on the future, splashing €25m on the teenage star who has just 10 first team appearances to his name thus far in his career.

3. Marc Bartra

From: Borussia Dortmund

To: Real Betis

Fee: Undisclosed

Spanish central defender Marc Bartra made a return to his homeland after sealing a deal with La Liga side Real Betis. 

As a graduate of the famous La Masia, Bartra appeared 59 times in Spain’s top flight for ?Barcelona between 2010 and 2016 before switching to the Bundesliga with a move to ?Dortmund

After just one full season in Germany, Bartra now clearly sees his long-term future in Spain with Betis having signed a five-and-a-half year deal at the Estadio Benito Villamarín.

2. Robin van Persie

From: Fenerbahçe

To: Feyenoord

Fee: Free Transfer

Former Arsenal and ?Manchester United forward RVP made an emotional return to where it all began for him as a professional; re-signing for Dutch champions Feyenoord. 

The 34-year-old agreed to terminate his contract with Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahçe in order to secure a return to his former club where he previously bagged 22 goals as a teenager between 2001 and 2004.

1. Vitolo

From: Las Palmas

To: Atletico Madrid

Fee: Expiration of Loan

And finally, a deal which had already been agreed during the summer window eventually came into fruition last month. ?

Atletico‘s capture of Vitolo from Sevilla in July had to be put on hold until the new year due to the club’s transfer ban, meaning the winger was sent out on loan to former club Las Palmas for the opening half of the season. 

Vitolo has appeared on nine occasions in La Liga so far this season – scoring once – and will now be looking forward to the belated beginning of his career in the Spanish capital with Atléti.

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