Yes, first versus 16th … this should be a shoo-in for the reigning champions, shouldn’t it. Especially as Bayern have won their last nine games in all competitions, and 17 of their last 18, drawing the other. Extra-especially as Bayern won the reverse fixture 4-0 in November. But hold on! Bayern came something of a cropper in this fixture last season, letting a 3-1 lead slip in the last 13 minutes, Dodi Lukebakio (now of Hertha Berlin) salvaging a 3-3 draw by completing a hat-trick. Also, while Fortuna may be battling relegation, their Bundesliga form is good: they’re unbeaten in six, taking ten points from those matches to give themselves hope. So Hansi Flick won’t be counting his chickens quite yet.
Bayern pretty much wrapped up the title last week with their win at Borussia Dortmund. Not that they’re taking their foot off the gas quite yet. Just the one change to their starting XI, with Lucas Hernandez taking the place of Jerome Boateng, who drops to the bench.
Uwe Rösler – formerly of Manchester City and Southampton, and the last man to score at The Dell – makes big changes to his Fortuna team. Five of the XI named for the 2-1 midweek win over shambolic Schalke make way: Kaan Ayhan, Markus Suttner, Valon Berisha, Marcel Sobottka and Rouwen Hennings are replaced by Niko Giesselmann, Adam Bodzek, Alfredo Morales, Steven Skrzybski and Zanka.
Bayern Munich: Neuer, Pavard, Hernandez, Alaba, Davies, Kimmich, Goretzka, Gnabry, Muller, Coman, Lewandowski.
Subs: Ulreich, Odriozola, Martinez, Cuisance, Perisic, Boateng, Singh, Batista Meier, Zirkzee.
Fortuna Dusseldorf: Kastenmeier, Zanka, Hoffmann, Giesselmann, Zimmermann, Stoger, Bodzek, Morales, Thommy, Karaman, Skrzybski.
Subs: Rensing, Berisha, Ofori, Pledl, Hennings, Suttner, Sobottka, Bormuth, Zimmer.
Today’s Matchday 29 results so far.
- Freiburg 0-1 Bayer Leverkusen
- Schalke 0-1 Werder Bremen
- Hertha Berlin 2-0 Augsburg
- Mainz 0-1 Hoffenheim
- Wolfsburg 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt
On the whole, the 3.30pm kick-offs have been a mixed bag for Fortuna Dusseldorf, who are currently in the relegation play-off position on 27 points. Werder Bremen, a place below them, have closed the gap to two points with a win at hapless Schalke, David Wagner’s time there surely running out. But the two teams directly above Fortuna in the table, Mainz and Augsburg, both lost; they’re respectively one and four points better off, but have played a game more. Eintracht Frankfurt have pulled away from trouble with a fine win at Wolfsburg; they’re now five points ahead of Fortuna.
Just so we know where we are … this is first versus 16th, the equivalent of Liverpool v West Ham, Celtic v Ayr, PSG v Dijon, Barcelona v Eibar, Porto v Pacos de Ferreira, Trabzonspor v Caykur Rizespor, and Zenit St Petersburg v Akhmat Grozny. It’s on!
Kick off: 6.30pm at the home of the soon-to-be eight-in-a-row champions, 5.30pm UK time.