A full-steam lineup for Bayern to vanquish Beşiktaş
A full-steam lineup for Bayern to vanquish Beşiktaş

Bayern face Beşiktaş in the Champions League in near-spotless form. The Reds are likely to play their strongest lineup to try and finish off the tie in Munich before the second leg. Here’s what it might look like.

Bayern will try to seek qualification into the quarter-final stage of the Champions’ League for a seventh-straight time but will have to topple the Turkish champions to get there. This week’s fixture will be the third competitive clash between the sides. They last met in the 1997-98 group stage of the competition. The Bavarians won both the home and away legs by a 2:0 scoreline.

The Black Eagles became the first team from Turkey to win a Champions’ League group. They should, therefore, be taken quite seriously. Unlike their hosts, however, their current form isn’t as impressive. They won just two of their last away matches in all competitions, and currently sit fourth in the Turkish league. Their former striker, Cenk Tosun, also left to join Premier League outfit Everton in the winter, after scoring four goals in the group stages.

The German champions, on the other hand, come into the tie on the back of 13 wins in all competitions. Bayern boast an overall better quality squad, with an even better bench comparatively. With some meticulous football on Tuesday, there should be a quarter-final berth for the Bavarians in a few weeks.

The XI

Coman-Ribéry rotation

This has been the interesting anecdote of Bayern’s left-wing as of recent weeks, and it’s likely set to continue. Franck Ribéry starts one game, and Kingsley Coman the next. Per that so-called policy, you can expect the young Frenchman to get the nod in this game, as he did not play against Wolfsburg.

Make no mistake though, Coman should start this game even without rotation considered. He has proven without a doubt that he can take on the biggest games. Coman showed fine panache versus Paris Saint-Germain and in multiple other games, while Ribéry is in a steady decline. With Coman on the opposite trajectory in that regard, it would be almost tragic to see Franck starting, personally.

A right-wing Müller

Arjen Robben has not been playing particularly well lately, per his glittering standards. Yet he has managed to influence recent matches in diverse ways, providing assists and drawing penalties. Normally I would say that gives him a pass to start. However, I also believe Bayern is out to make a statement in the Champions League, as they did with Arsenal last year.

Hence, starting Thomas Müller in the right-wing position seems the best bet, as he was largely rested on the weekend. His telepathic understanding with James Rodríguez in the middle of the attack can wreak havoc on the Turkish side’s defence all evening. Also, Lewandowski seems to score more often when those two link up to provide for him, as they are less likely to “cut inside and you-know-what”.

Defensive and creative stability

None of the usual suspects at the back, with the exception of Sven Ulreich in goal, started on the weekend. They were mostly rested in exchange for an alternative defence. Those changes were clearly made in reference to this upcoming game. Even still, the job got done.

David Alaba, Mats Hummels, Jérôme Boateng and Joshua Kimmich should all return and instil some stability at the back for the strongest possible defensive setup. The team has recently been conceding goals in almost every game. Unless, something changes,I wouldn’t panic if Beşiktaş do manage to sneak in the single away goal. My biggest worry is that Joshua Kimmich is a yellow-card away from missing the second leg.

In that regard, I would expect extra defensive strength with the return of Thiago Alcântara to the midfield. He made the most tackles in his comeback against Wolfsburg, an impressive stat for a largely creative player (92% pass accuracy as well). Couple this with Arturo Vidal’s typical self, and you have a midfield that can relieve a lot of pressure on the defence while augmenting the attack’s potency.

Heynckes’ usual surprise

Ever since Osram Heynckes took over, he has on occasion sprung different surprises in his starting lineups and tactics. I should think this would be the strongest XI to take a commanding lead over Beşiktaş into the second leg.

Nevertheless, watch out for a potential surprise package from the boss, as he did by playing Corentin Tolisso and Sebastian Rudy in the December match against Paris Saint-Germain.


Red Odyssey