Bayern Munich will be seeking to kick off April on the right foot as they prepare to welcome struggling Eintracht Frankfurt to the Allianz Arena on Saturday.
Die Roten were not at their very best against Koln last month, but they showed why they are the number one side in Germany. A goal from the in-form Robert Lewandowski was enough to give Pep Guardiola’s side all three points heading into the international break and, in doing so, he set a new record.
With 25 goals, the Polish star has now scored the most goals in a season by a foreigner, surpassing the 24 set by Italian Luca Toni during his time in Munich. And in the form he has been in all season, expect that tally to rise before this campaign concludes in May.
Guardiola, of course, will be hoping that players like Lewandowski and Thomas Muller will pick up from where they left off prior to the international hiatus, but he may decide to rotate his squad. Both Diego Costa and Arturo Vidal logged quite a bit of mileage over the course of the past week, and the South American duo may be given a rest ahead of Bayern Munich’s European tie coming up next week.
Although die Roten certainly have not been given the toughest draw – avoiding teams like Barcelona and PSG – with Benfica being their next opponent, they naturally will want to head into that game having built up some positive momentum at home. Fortunately, Bayern Munich – who will be missing the services of Holger Badstuber, Jerome Boateng, and now Arjen Robben due to injury – will be taking on a side devoid of confidence after a bad run of result.
Eintracht Frankfurt have won just one win in their past nine games, which cost coach Armin Veh his job. Former Croatian national coach Niko Kovac now has the tough task of trying to turn things around for die Adler, who are presently in 17th place. However, the bottom of the table is quite congested. Darmstadt and Werder Bremen, who are in 13th and 14th respectively are only one point ahead, with 28 so far, meaning that a win here or a loss there could see teams jump from relegation threatened to safety.
Earlier this season, Frankfurt managed to hold Bayern Munich to a scoreless draw. To date, they are only one of three teams to do this, with the other two sides being Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen. The stalemate was notable as it marked the first time since April 23, 2011 that Frankfurt picked up a point against die Roten. Most significant, this was the first occurrence that die Adler had not lost to the Bavarian powerhouse; prior to then, they had lost every one of their six meetings, all without scoring a single goal.
So, should they manage to beat Manuel Neuer, it will be a long time coming. However, it obviously will be a task much easier said than done. Mainz were the last team to score against Bayern Munich, when they handed die Roten their first home loss of the season; since the Guardiola’s side have scored six goals in their past three games. In addition, the visitors surely will not be helped by their extensive injury list, with Bamba Anderson, Johannes Flum, Stefan Reinartz, Mijat Gacinovic, Slobodan Medojevic all on the treatment table, and Alexander Meier will have to pass a late fitness test to determine his availability for this match.
All in all, this looks like it should be a routine win for Bayern Munich, but Guardiola will have to make sure that his squad are not already thinking about their tie with Benfica to avoid any potential slip-ups. In the past couple of seasons, die Roten have cruised to the league title without much thought. This time, as a result of Dortmund’s resurgence, a gap that would have been double digits is now only five.
As any football fan knows, five points, with seven games remaining, does not mean that a title race is done and dusted. Die Schwarzgelben, who have been given a new lease on life under Thomas Tuchel, will be pushing Bayern Munich all the way until the end of the season. Hence, as the Bavarian giants chase a historic fourth straight Bundesliga title, the onus will be on them to start off April right with a win at the Allianz Arena.
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