Preview: Bayern v Köln

Arturo Vidal FC Bayern

Defending champions FC Bayern München will no doubt feel confident of maintaining their lead in the Bundesliga title race when they welcome bottom club 1. FC Köln to the Allianz Arena on Wednesday.

Bundesliga
13 December 2017
Gameweek 16
Kick-off: 21:30
Venue: Allianz Arena

Referee: D. Siebert
Assistants: L. Koslowski, J. Seidel
Fourth official: T. Reichel

Head-to-head summary:

TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS

Bayern: 88 43 24 21
Köln: 88 21 24 43

Previous encounter:

Köln 0-3 Bayern – 04/03/2017 (Bundesliga)

Bayern scorers: J. Martínez (25'), J. Bernat (48'), F. Ribéry (90')

Players to watch:

Robert Lewandowski will likely return to the team after being rested in Saturday's 1-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt. With the visitors have conceded a whopping 31 goals in 15 league games so far this season, the prolific Poland star will likely be licking his lips in front of goal at the Allianz Arena. He will no doubt be keen to add to his Bundesliga 14 goals.

Goalkeeper Timo Horn is expected to be the busiest man on the pitch on Wednesday night. With just two clean sheets to his name in 15 appearances and playing behind the worst defence in Germany's top flight, the 24-year-old is set to face an onslaught on his goal. He may need to produce a top-class display to at least keep the score respectable.

Team form and manager quotes:

The hosts have won 12 out of their 14 matches in all competitions since the return of Jupp Heynckes, and come into the game full of confidence.

Despite the obvious gulf in class, Heynckes is taking nothing for granted against Die Geißböcke and expects his league-leading team to focus on the job at hand.

"We certainly can't underestimate them, particularly in the current situation after the change of coach," he said. "We'll approach the game in the same way as the previous one: with a high level of concentration and a good attitude."

Meanwhile, Köln have suffered a nightmare start to the campaign with 12 defeats in 15 league games and arrive in Munich struggling with a raft of injuries to key players.

To add to their woes, they threw away a 3-0 lead against SC Freiburg in their last outing to lose 4-3 in devastating fashion.

Nonetheless, manager Stefan Ruthenbeck is asking for a brave fighting spirit in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

"We can't stand in front of a big beast like a little mouse. We want to be bold and attack, despite our situation," Ruthenbeck told the press ahead of the clash.

Team news:

Lewandowski, David Alaba, Corentin Tolisso and Mats Hummels all seem set for a return to the starting line-up after being rested against Frankfurt. Goalkeeper Sven Ulreich remains out with a groin injury, leaving Tom Starke as the only available number one.

Köln have virtually a hospital casualty ward of a squad available with Jhon Córdoba, Simon Zoller, Marcel Risse, Marco Höger, Dominic Maroh, Jonas Hector, Konstantin Rausch, Sehrou Guirassy and Yuya Osako all ruled out.

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