Bayern Munich face a tricky trip to Union Berlin on Sunday, knowing anything less than three points could blow the Bundesliga title battle wide open.
The two-month hiatus is over in Germany, bringing back the sport we love most in football. And all eyes will be on Bayern Munich, in particular, this weekend. Can they continue where they left off? Or will Union Berlin spring a surprise? It wouldn’t be the first time this season.
Although the Bundesliga new boys will have to tread carefully on Sunday against Bayern. The visitors are on course for an eighth consecutive league title, with a four-point lead in the standings.
Therefore, they won’t drop their guard at any moment. Especially with Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig ready to pounce on any slip-up.
So Hansi Flick’s men must bring home all three points to prove the enforced break hasn’t robbed them of their momentum. Otherwise, this could give their rivals hope. And potentially blow the title race wide open once again.
Flick upbeat over Bayern’s progress
Hansi Flick replacing Niko Kovac in November breathed a new lease of life in the Bayern Munich squad. The German has overseen 18 wins and just two defeats in all competitions. It not only restored the club back on top of the Bundesliga, but prompted hope of a treble this term.
The Bavarians have won 10 of their last 11 Bundesliga matches, scoring 38 goals and conceding just six times. This run of form has added 31 points to their 55-point haul. They now boast the league’s best-offensive record (73 goals) and joint-best defensive record (26 goals conceded).
The only team to stop them in recent fixtures was RB Leipzig, who held Bayern to a goalless draw in February.
The question hanging over Bayern now is whether the hiatus has taken away some of their momentum? While we can’t be sure until Sunday, Flick was upbeat over his team’s progress over the last few weeks.
“We’ve trained hard and seen the physical conditions are right,” Flick said on the club website.
“We had an internal friendly with three times 20-minutes on Sunday. The intensity was very high. I hope we can reproduce that in Berlin.
“It’s about showing our quality in every game. I think a certain mentality is an advantage. That’s what you need in football. Just playing pretty football won’t see us ending the games in the way we want to.”
Union Berlin could spring a surprise
The Iron Ones have become a fan favourite in their first-ever campaign of Bundesliga football. Not only have the club defied all odds, but they also sprung a few surprise results.
Title hopefuls Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Monchengladbach, for example, both lost at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei.
All this has helped Union Berlin climb to an impressive 11th-place in the standings with 30 points. For a team that was expected to go down, this is a splendid achievement. It proves they can mix it with the Bundesliga big boys.
Much of Union’s results have come at their 22,012-capacity stadium. They’ve won six of their 12 games, with their last home win back in January against Augsburg. It’s granted valuable points, effectively giving them a chance of a surprise top-10 finish.
“They’re a team with a great mentality,” said Flick.
“We’re facing an aggressive team that takes the direct route to goal. We can’t get a result just through the quality of our football. We have to show our mentality and take on challenges.”
Urs Fischer’s side have, in fact, won five of their last eight home matches. A shaky defence could prove to be their undoing, though. They’ve conceded 22 goals in their last 11 Bundesliga games, keeping just two clean sheets. That’s an average of two goals conceded-per-game.
This doesn’t dwell well for the clash against a free-scoring Bayern Munich, who’ve welcomed back top-scorer Robert Lewandowski. Therefore, Sebastian Andersson will need to be at the top of his game for Union. Even a draw on Sunday will be a huge result for the hosts.
Head coach Fischer, meanwhile, left training on Wednesday after his father-in-law passed away. So the Swiss won’t be in the dugout for this weekend.