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Bayern München vs Bayer 04 Leverkusen: Match preview and prediction
The 55th edition of the Bundesliga is finally upon us, as champions Bayern München kick the campaign off on Friday against Bayer Leverkusen.
FC Bayern München contest the official opening fixture of the 2017/18 Bundesliga season against Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Friday evening.
Bayern are again favourites to win the German league title this term in spite of problems in the pre-season. There were results that hadn’t been seen for a long time in the Bavarian state capital: 2-0 defeats against Napoli and Inter Milan, a 3-0 reverse against Liverpool and even a 4-0 loss against AC Milan – a snapshot of the pre-season friendly record that must have come as a massive surprise for many of their fans.
But Bayern wouldn’t be Bayern if they weren’t fully back on form when it gets serious. In spite of going behind twice, Carlo Ancelotti’s team came back to win the DFL Supercup against one of their toughest rivals of previous years, Borussia Dortmund. It is clear that is not supposed to be the last title to be won this season. Bayern are again the hot favourites to lift the league title and are happy to accept that role.
Even after the retirement of the two top players Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso, plus the departure of Douglas Costa, Bayern have a squad that sets the standard in every position in the Bundesliga and they don’t need to hide from any other team worldwide.
The squad has also been strengthened during the summer break. The two German internationals from Hoffenheim, Niklas Süle and Sebastian Rudy, joined Bayern in the summer as did the talented French midfielder Corentin Tolisso from Lyon. The marquee signing was James Rodriguez: Ancelotti’s key target is on loan for two years from Real Madrid with FC Bayern having an option to buy the reigning World Cup top goalscorer.
Meanwhile, the summer has seen Leverkusen lose not only their excellent manager Roger Schmidt but also two of their most important attacking players, with Hakan Calhanoglu and Javier Hernandez joining AC Milan and West Ham respectively.
Leverkusen needed until extra-time to see off Karlsruhe in the 1st round of the DFB Pokal last week, so it’s hard to see his side overcoming the seemingly impossible task of beating Bayern Munich at home.
The BayArena outfit finished last season in 12th position in the Bundesliga and there is little optimism that they will be able to improve much on that finish in the forthcoming campaign.
Bayern are still without a number of first-team players for Friday’s clash in Munich. Jerome Boateng remains short of match fitness, while fellow defenders Javi Martinez and Juan Bernat are both set for lengthy spells on the sidelines. New signing James Rodriguez and Thiago Alcantara have also been ruled out through injury, while Manuel Neuer is not yet fit enough following a fractured foot.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen
The visitors’ only absentee is Tin Jedvaj, who suffered a hairline fracture of his right shin in pre-season. Sven Bender – a summer signing from Borussia Dortmund – is set to be handed his Bundesliga debut for the club, while former Augsburg loanee Dominik Kohr could partner Charles Aranguiz in central midfield.
Bayern: Ulreich – Kimmich, Süle, Hummels, Alaba – Tolisso, Rudy – Robben, Müller, Ribery – Lewandowski
Leverkusen: Leno – Henrichs, Tah, S. Bender, Wendell – Kohr, Aranguiz – Bellarabi, Kampl, Mehmedi – Volland
18 August 2017 / 20:30 GMT +2
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