The traditional curtain-raiser to the new Bundesliga season takes place on Saturday with champions Bayern Munich going head-to-head with Pokal holders RB Leipzig at the Allianz Arena. A trophy at the start of the season is always welcome and these two Bundesliga heavyweights will want to start the campaign on the front foot.
Bayern won the Bundesliga last season, but not in the imperious style they have become used to. The new season is only a week away, but at the time of writing the club’s big push for a new number nine in Harry Kane continues to meet stumbling blocks. The goalkeeping issue remains a concern with no set return date for Manuel Neuer as yet and both Yann Sommer and Alexander Nübel sold. That said the Bayern coach has a stellar squad to pick from and cannot really grumble about a lack of quality options.
The arrival of Kim Min-Jae should add steel to the back four while Konrad Laimer will be facing his former club right at the start of the season following his summer switch from Leipzig to Bayern. The line-up of the Bayern midfield will be something to watch- particularly how Tuchel intends to deploy Joshua Kimmich now that Laimer is there to potentially play the more defensive role.
Having won the last ten DFL Supercup editions, Bayern certainly have history on their side and will take heart from last season’s triumph when they beat Leipzig 5-3 at the Red Bull Arena.
The Roten Bullen however will be buoyed by their win over Bayern in the last league fixture- an historic win that is still very fresh in the mind. With the mental block now gone about beating the Bavarians, Leipzig can approach the game with more confidence and freedom.
Marco Rose has been faced with the loss of three key players in Christopher Nkunku, Josko Gvardiol and Domonik Szoboszlai, but Max Eberl has provided his with some very exciting replacements and there is every reason to believe that Leipzig can push on this season from their Pokal win to join Borussia Dortmund as a genuine challenger to Bayern for the Bundesliga crown.
Success breeds success and after two Cup triumphs and a first win over Bayern in the Bundesliga, Leipzig can use Saturday’s Supercup as a chance to lay down an early marker before the season proper gets underway next weekend.
Bayern’s squad is still missing some of the sought-after pieces and coach Thomas Tuchel will have to make do with the current squad as he faces Leipzig. Sven Ulreich will deputise in goal as he has done on so many previous occasions, while both Kim-Min Jae and Konrad Laimer look set to make their competitive debuts.
Thomas Müller and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting have been absent through much of pre-season, but both could potentially make it onto Bayern’s bench for Saturday’s match.
Possible line-up: Ulreich, Mazraoui, Pavard, M.-J. Kim, Davies, Kimmich, Laimer, Musiala, Coman, Gnabry, Tel
Both new signings Christoph Baumgartner and El Chadaille Bitshiabu will be unavailable through injury. Baumgartner has a thigh problem, while Bitshiabu suffered a serious knee injury just a few days ago, which will keep him out long-term.
Amadou Haidara is also out with muscle injury, while Peter Gulacsi is still fighting his way back to full fitness following his long layoff.
Possible line-up: Blaswich, Henrichs, Simakan, Orban, Raum, Schlager, Kampl, Forsberg, Dani Olmo, Werner, Openda
What they’re saying:
Thomas Tuchel: “The Supercup certainly has big significance because it can give you a boost. I have the impression that the team are in a very positive mood. It’s our aim to take the next step with a good performance. We absolutely want to win but we know the same goes for Leipzig. I hope our desire is at least equal and we can prevail with our quality.
“Of course we see Leipzig as rivals along with Dortmund, Leverkusen. The league has also proven that there are outsiders who can establish themselves at the top. Our aims are very clear: we want to be champions, win the cup and go a long way in the Champions League. It’s a good test. There’s been a certain tension in the friendlies so far. We hope we can transport the energy we currently have in training onto the pitch tomorrow.”
Marco Rose: “We will face what is undeniably a huge challenge in Munich, but we are excited, as we know that our title win in June has earned us the right to compete in this game. The boys thrive when playing against this standard of team. After this fixture, it will be clear where we stand and how we can improve.
“I think that last season, especially the run-in, will have had an impact on a club like FC Bayern. They were lacking confidence for a while. That can’t have felt good, and they will want to change that.
“I think we will come up against a side that will enjoy having the ball and that’s more compact and intense than they were during that phase where they were struggling for confidence.”
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The last meeting of the two sides saw Leipzig achieve their first-ever Bundesliga win over Bayern at the Allianz Arena in the title run-in. With Bayern locked in a tussle with Borussia Dortmund, the Roten Bullen inflicted a 3-1 defeat on the Rekordmeister on matchday 33 to hand the advantage to Dortmund.
Bayern led at the break through a Serge Gnabry goal, but a storming second half from the visitors saw them score three unanswered goals. A Konrad Laimer goal against his future employers equalised before two penalties from Christopher Nkunku and Domonik Szoboszlai secured an historic win for Marco Rose’s side and helped them clinch third spot in the table.
Players to watch:
With all the attention still on the on/off transfer of Harry Kane, young French striker Mathys Tel will want to show that he can still offer a lot in the number nine position as the main striker and that even if Kane does arrive, he is ready to step up this season. The option had been there to go somewhere on loan, but the youngster has decided to stay and fight for game time at the Allianz Arena.
The loss of talismanic top scorer Christopher Nkunku was always going to leave a big hole, but in Belgian striker Lois Openda, Leipzig feel they have signed the perfect player to get the goals. They had to pay a club record fee of €43 million to prise him away from Lens and after scoring goals in both Belgium and France, it will be interesting to see how quickly he can adapt to the Bundesliga.