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|Match Result and Both Teams to Score
|Bayern Munich and Yes
|Bayern Munich and No
|Bayer Leverkusen and Yes
|Bayer Leverkusen and No
Julian Nagelsmann’s side will not have everything their own way, but we fancy them to bounce back with a victory in this one.
Back Bayern Munich to win and both teams to score on Friday (+107)
When you are as powerful within German soccer as Bayern Munich, dropping points once can be regarded as misfortune but doing so twice looks like carelessness. Yet Julian Nagelsmann’s side did not stop at two. For four games in a row before the recent pause for the Nations League and other international matches, Bayern failed to emerge victorious. That type of run almost invariably leads to questions being asked of the manager, and Nagelsmann has not been able to escape the scrutiny.
Every football match is unique, and Bayern’s four recent non-wins did not all follow the same pattern. The 1-1 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach was one of those occasions when the soccer gods were simply not on the side of the Bundesliga champions: Bayern dominated the match and would have triumphed but for Yann Sommer’s heroics in the opposition goal. The draws with Union Berlin (1-1) and Stuttgart (2-2) were not as convincing, though, and a 1-0 defeat by Augsburg last time out was a fair result which could not be dismissed as a fluke.
Nagelsmann has borne the brunt of the criticism. His superiors at the Allianz Arena felt it necessary to publicly back the former RB Leipzig head coach earlier this month amid suggestions that Bayern could replace him with the out-of-work Thomas Tuchel. “We are not dealing with any other coaches now. We are totally convinced of Julian,” said the club’s CEO and former goalkeeper Oliver Kahn.
The best online sportsbooks still have Bayern down as strong favorites to win the Bundesliga title, while Nagelsmann will point to two wins from two in the Champions League as proof that he knows what he is doing. Yet the manager’s gamble that a more fluid frontline would be an upgrade on one spearheaded by Robert Lewandowski has not been vindicated – or at least not yet. The 35-year-old has plenty to think about as the Bundesliga makes its return.
Bayer Leverkusen were the pre-season favorites to join Bayern, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig in the top four, but things have not gone to plan so far. Only one of their seven games has produced a victory, and although that was a convincing 3-0 win against Mainz, Leverkusen have struggled elsewhere. The 3-0 home loss to Hoffenheim was the nadir, but Gerardo Seoane’s side have also been beaten by Dortmund, Augsburg and Freiburg.
A win against Werder Bremen immediately prior to the international break would have been a huge morale booster, but Leverkusen let a 1-0 lead slip late on. Seoane led the club into the Champions League last season and his job is not yet under threat, but like Nagelsmann he is well aware of the realities of modern soccer. A trip to Bayern, despite their recent dip, means things could get worse before they get better.
The decision-makers at the BayArena may be retaining their faith in Seoane because of the underlying statistics, which suggest results should soon pick up. Only three teams have a higher expected goals value so far, while Leverkusen rank around mid-table for expected goals against.
Bayern’s failure to score against Augsburg on matchday seven ended a remarkable run of 86 consecutive league matches in which the Bavarian giants found the back of the net. Nagelsmann pointed to the fact that his team created chances – managers the world over are invariably less concerned by wayward conversion than insufficient invention – but soccer is a results business and the Bayern boss knows he needs to turn things around quickly.
Having said that, there is no need for panic yet. Bayern were below par in their last three outings, but they are still in a healthy position in the standings. Nagelsmann is widely regarded as one of the brightest coaches in the world after his brilliant work at Leipzig and Hoffenheim. And one could argue that it is better for Bayern to go through a sticky patch now rather than at the business end of the campaign when the trophies are being handed out.
No clean sheets in their last four outings will give Bayern’s opponents some hope on Friday, but Leverkusen are not exactly full of confidence either. Seoane’s side have the attacking weapons to ask questions of Bayern’s backline, but if the champions come back refreshed from the international break, Leverkusen will struggle to avoid defeat. Back Bayern to win and both teams to score in this one.
|Bayern Munich vs Bayer Leverkusen
|Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
|Friday, 30 September 2022, 14.30 PM EST
|How to watch
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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