Struggling side Augsburg will have their work cut out for them as they try to contain Bayern Munich when the two sides meet at the WWK Arena this Sunday.
Last season, current coach Markus Weinzierl was the talk of the town as thanks to a fifth placed finish, Augsburg secured a spot in the Europa League for the first time in their history. It indeed was a stunning achievement, especially considering that they only first arrived in German football’s top tier at the end of the 2010/2011 season. However, the Cinderella story appears to have come to an abrupt end as the hosts are presently in 14th, with 21 points and without a win in their lass three fixtures. Whilst not in the relegation zone, their downward slide – that has seen them pick up just two points in 2016 – will be of great concern, and they will be, of course, welcoming a tough opponent in Bayern Munich later today.
On paper, this looks like it should be a straight-forward three points for Pep Guardiola’s men. Or is it? In their past few meetings, Augsburg have given die Roten a bit of headaches. Although the Bavarian giants have won 9 out of their 11 meetings since Augsburg arrived in the Bundesliga in 2011, the hosts are only one of two sides to have beaten Guardiola more than once in the Bundesliga. The only other side? Borussia Monchengladbach, who handed Bayern a 3-1 defeat on December 5th, which is still the only loss the reigning Bundesliga champions have suffered this season.
Guardiola has never lost to any side three times since arriving at Bayern during the summer of 2013, but the team needed a late spot-kick from Thomas Muller to edge out their opponents. With a tricky tie against Serie A powerhouse Juventus coming up next week, there will be plenty to mull over for the Spanish tactician as he makes his selection for this fixture. La Vecchia Signora’s recent uptick in form, which has seen them win a whopping 15 games on the trot – including in their crunch tie versus Napoli yesterday – has now seen them re-claim top spot in Italy and they will certainly provide a stern test for die Roten in their mouth-watering match-up coming up in a few days’ time.
Bayern still hold a pretty comfortable lead at the top of the table, but Guardiola will not have been pleased with his team’s performance in their last match against Bayer Leverkusen, which saw them held to a 0-0 draw. They did bounce back with a comfortable 3-0 rout over Bochum in cup action, but he certainly will like to see his side get back to winning ways against a team who have yet to win a match in 2016.
In terms of personnel, Xabi Alonso will miss out due to a ban after picking up two yellow cards during the stalemate against Leverkusen last round. Mehdi Benatia, Javi Martinez, and Jerome Boateng are all still out, but Mario Gotze and Franck Ribery could both make a return to action to get some game-time after recovering from their respective injuries.
Having won 20 out of their 21 Bundesliga matches, it’s quite obvious who the favorites appear to be for this game, but recent history has suggested otherwise. Will Augsburg manage to record an unlikely win to finally get their first three points of this year? Or will Bayern, as expected, bounce back from their disappointing draw last weekend to fully get back to winning ways ahead of their European showdown with the Bianconeri?
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