Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund | The Bundesliga champions, Bayern Munich face off against Borussia Dortmund, the runners up of the DFB Pokal Cup. Alankrith Shankar has looked at three key questions that Bayern need to answer in the big clash.
Will Guardiola risk his World Cup stars?
One of the major questions and headaches that Pep Guardiola has to deal with is the team that he will put out on the field. Does he play his young guns or does he go ahead and play his World Cup stars. With the Bundesliga not very far away, the game might help in giving the World Cup star players some much needed match fitness but they did play competitive football a lot through the summer, so it could go down the wrong direction resulting in an injury, whereas if Pep goes with a team of youngsters, it might result in exposing of the weaknesses due to inexperience. But if the pre-season form of the German domestic champions is to give any indication, the latter looks like a much better choice.
The team did bond well and had a very good couple of game, so the players must be buzzing and full of confidence and will look to repeat their form in a competitive game. Though the best choice would be to mix and play both of the above. Key players like Schweinsteiger, Robben and Muller can be given a rest while the others go out on the field and put in a good performance. The unfortunate occurrence of Rafinha being injured, means club captain, Phillipp Lahm is most likely to start, but is still unclear as to whether Pep will play him in his best position (right-back) or play him at defensive midfield with Hojbjerg at right-back as the youngster was tried out in that position in a pre-season game.
Can Bayern cope with Dortmund’s pace using a make-shift right-back?
IF Pep decides to go with Lahm in midfield, then it means Hojbjerg will play at full-back or we will see Jerome Boateng take up that position. Both players are not first choice right-backs, but Boateng has considerable experience playing that position. The injury of Rafinha has caused a problem for Pep in the early stages of this season. The best choice would be to play Lahm as the right-back and get Javi Martinez to slot in at the defensive midfield position and Boateng in central defence, playing a double pivot system.
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But Pep does not seem to be a fan of Javi Martinez in midfield or the double pivot game that Bayern were playing under Hynckes as he prefers to use Javi as a sweeper centre-back and Lahm’s passing and vision in the centre rather than at the flanks. The versatility of the Bayern Munich players will be key to how they adapt to this inadequacy on the right flank which looks like the most ideal hole in the Bayern defense and Dortmund will be looking to open Bayern up from the wings using the raw pace of their wingers. The right flank is one of the major issues that Pep will look to address before and during the game.
If Lahm plays at defensive midfield, a 3 man defense like in the Pokal final could solve the issue, but then again, the absence of Rafinha is going to be a void that needs to be taken care off. One thing for sure though is that this will be a major question answered, not only for this game, but the season as a whole.
Is this Shaqiri’s big break under Pep?
Pep’s first season at the Allianz Arena was a majorly injury hit one for the Swiss winger and rumours ran around that the player was wanting a move. Whether there is any truth in it involved is another question, but now that those rumours have dried up and he is with the squad after a sublime World Cup, the winger will look to impress his manager. With a start in DFL Super Cup very likely, as Dutch winger Robben is a probable candidate to get a rest, the match is probably the ideal platform for Shaqiri, to show his mettle.
A good performance will be a big step in the fight for the winger’s position, which Shaqiri faces an uphill battle as he is fighting a set of world class wingers on both flanks. Shaqiri will be tasked heavily in moving the attack with pace and intent as Bayern will look to keep applying pressure on the Dortmund defense. Getting into spaces, opening up the defenses and playing low crosses to Lewandowski will be some of his major missions in the game. Having a striker like Lewandowski is a dream for any manager and Klopp would know that better than anyone. The Polish striker can create his own chances while opening up defenses and creating immense amount of space for the wide players to advance in to the box. Shaqiri’s link up play with the other 3 front men will be key to Bayern scoring in tough periods of the game and opportunities are bound to arise with a striker like Lewandowski in the side.
Conclusion: The game gives both teams a last opportunity to reflect on the squad before the league kicks off. There is a trophy for the taking too and as always, a game between Bayern and Dortmund will have its intensity. This fixture in the past has predominantly been won by the team which had the better tactics and not the better football. The DFB Pokal final of last season is the most recent example. The game is most definitely not a friendly. Can be regarded as a teaser as to what the fans of both clubs can look forward to in the upcoming season, surely a game to be excited about.
Written by Alankrith Shankart. Follow him on Twitter @alanbinga
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