Bayern Munich venture to Max-Morlock-Stadion to face Nurnberg this Sunday as they close in on a seventh successive Bundesliga title.
The Bavarians defeated Werder Bremen twice in the last week, first edging to a 1-0 league victory before claiming a thrilling 3-2 win in the DFB Pokal semi-finals. Niklas Sule was the hero in the former, his deflected effort securing a vital three points for the champions. Robert Lewandowski grabbed a brace four days later, with Thomas Muller hitting a goal of his own to see off a spirited Bremen fightback
An 80th minute spot-kick from the Polish marksman proved to be the decisive strike on Wednesday, keeping Bayern on course for a domestic double that will slightly ease the pain of the club's continued failure in the Champions League.
Opponents Nurnberg sit second bottom in the table, nine points from safety. They lost 2-0 away to Bayer Leverkusen last time out, with a playoff looking like their best chances of avoiding relegation.
Where to Watch
|When is Kick Off?||Sunday 28 April|
|What Time is Kick Off?||17:00 (BST)|
|Where is it Played?||Max-Morlock-Stadion|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||BT Sport 1|
Torles Knoll could make his return from a ligament problem for the hosts, though fellow forward Adam Zrelak will miss the remainder of the season due to a serious knee injury. Defensive duo Enrico Valentini and Dennis Lippert are sidelined by a tendon crack and a torn cruciate ligament, respectively.
Wideman Ivo Ilicevic completes the list of those unavailable for Boris Schommers, who has no suspensions to account for.
Veteran wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery will not feature for Die Roten on Sunday, both men currently struggling with muscular issues. However, the Dutchman began training again this week, a wonderful sight for Bayern fans, who feared he had played his last game in red.
Playmaker James Rodriguez is out due to an adductor problem, with goalkeepers Manuel Neuer and Christian Fruchtl also missing. The former has a calf complaint, whilst his counterpart is recovering from an elbow injury. Niko Kovac has no players unavailable through suspension.
|Nurnberg||Mathenia; Bauer, Muhl, Ewerton, Leibold; Behrans, Erras, Lowen; Pereira, Kerk, Ishak.|
|Bayern Munich||Ulreich; Kimmich, Sule, Hummels, Alaba; Martinez, Thiago; Gnabry, Muller, Coman; Lewandowski.|
Head to Head Record
Nurnberg have not won this fixture since 2007 when they humbled Bayern 3-0. Since then, they have lost 10 games, drawing a further four. They were comfortably dismissed in the most recent meeting, Kovac's men strolling to a 3-0 victory.
Lewandowski flicked in an early corner to snatch the lead before slotting into an empty net minutes later; a long-range howitzer from Leon Goretzka had rattled the bar and bounced out into no man's land, the Pole following up to pass the ball into a gaping net as his side asserted their dominance.
If there was any doubt about the result then it was emphatically ended by Ribery, the 36-year-old sweeping a low drive home to end the debate at the start of the second half. That took Bayern to a total of 13 wins against Sunday's opponents, a team they have lost to just once in their history.
The strugglers have won just one Bundesliga fixture this calendar year, that sole triumph coming back in March. They gave themselves a fighting chance of survival with the 3-0 victory over lowly Augsburg, though they have lost a total of nine matches in all competitions in 2019.
Consecutive defeats of Werder Bremen in the week leading up to the Nurnberg clash have taken Kovac tantalisingly close to delivering the club's second double in three years. They will take on RB Leipzig in the German Cup final in May, whilst four more wins would guarantee the Meisterschale stays at the Allianz Arena.
Lewandowski has been in scintillating form of late, racking up 12 goals in his last 10 appearances in all competitions. The side are now on a run of five consecutive victories, demolishing rivals Borussia Dortmund 5-0 during that time to leapfrog the Yellow Submarine at the league summit.
Here's the last five results for either club.
|Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 Nurnberg (20/4)||Werder Bremen 2-3 Bayern Munich (24/4)|
|Nurnberg 1-1 Schalke (12/4)||Bayern Munich 1-0 Werder Bremen (20/4)|
|Stuttgart 1-1 Nurnberg (06/4)||Fortuna 1-4 Bayern Munich (14/4)|
|Nurnberg 3-0 Augsburg (30/3)||Bayern Munich 5-0 Borussia Dortmund (06/4)|
|Eintracht Frankfurt 1-0 Nurnberg (17/3)||Bayern Munich 5-4 Heidenheim (03/4)|
This menacing Munich machine have the destination of the title firmly in their grasp and go into the weekend beaming with confidence. They could crush a frail Nurnberg outfit, just as they did in 6-0 hammerings of Mainz and Wolfsburg in recent times.
It is a match-up reminiscent of David vs Goliath, but David is (are?) unlikely to upset the odds this weekend. These teams have had wildly different starts to 2019 and are heading in opposite directions – and what's more, Bayern have a striker in Lewandowski who is simply unplayable at the present moment. It is difficult to see anything but an away win.
Prediction: Nurnberg 1-4 Bayern Munich.