On Wednesday, FC Bayern München's injury-hit squad welcomes Hertha Berlin to the Allianz arena, with the visitors in the midst of their best opening to a Bundesliga season in the club's 124-year history.
21 September 2016
Venue: Allianz Arena (Munich)
Referee: M. Fritz
Assistants: D. Schaal, M. Pelgrim
Fourth official: M. Thomsen
TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS
Bayern 60 36 18 8
Hertha 60 8 18 36
Hertha Berlin 0-2 Bayern Munich (23/04/16) Bundesliga
Bayern goalscorers: Arturo Vidal (48'), Douglas Costa (79')
Players to watch:
German striker Julian Schieber who has played something of a super-sub role in the club's record-breaking start to the campaign.
The 27-year-old got the ball rolling when he scored Hertha's winner in the fifth minute of injury time against Freiburg on opening day and grabbed another off the bench in the 2-0 win over Ingolstadt.
With the club decimated by injuries in defence, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will need to be at his best as he will surely be tested. In the 3-1 win against Ingolstadt, he produced some world class saves including a spectacular reflex save at short range from Mathew Leckie.
While often a bystander when Bayern dominate games with possession, the 30-year-old continues to prove he is the man for the job when he is needed.
— Philipp Lahm (@philipplahm) September 20, 2016
Team form and manager quotes:
With just 14 senior professionals in manager Carlo Ancelotti's 20-man squad for the encounter with Hertha, it appears the Italian may have to tinker further with his line-up in order to cope with a growing injury list.
In the 3-1 win over Ingolstadt, defensive-midfielder Javi Martinez played centre-back alongside Joshua Kimmich, whose previous appearances came in midfield. It showed as Bayern had Neuer to thank on more than one occasion to limit the visitors to just one strike.
Ancelotti said, "Sometimes our defence shows that we have the best goalkeeper in the world. He was really good. It is not always possible to play well, but we can show character. Sometimes it's impossible to play beautifully."
Meanwhile, Hertha have become a side that is very difficult to beat under Pal Dardai. The 40-year-old guided the club from the brink of relegation in his first season to just a handful of points away from finishing in the Champions League places in 2015/16.
In addition, three wins-in-a-row represents the Old Lady's best start to a league campaign in their history. With the squad containing a melting pot of nationalities from Ivory Coast's Solomon Kalou to Japan's Genki Haraguchi, it is an exciting time in Berlin.
Nonetheless, Dardai is refusing to get carried away and realises the huge challenge his side faces against the German champions. He told kicker, "Against Bayern, it is not enough just to play well. When you have opportunities, you need to be effective and score goals. And you need a day on which everyone plays to their limit. But, that's feasible."
FC Hollywood are without Philipp Lahm, David Alaba and Mats Hummels due to illness while long term casualty Holger Badstuber is also ruled out. Douglas Costa's thigh strain against Ingolstadt means he's also unavailable.
For the Blue-Whites, workhorse midfielder Vladimir Darida is out with an ankle injury while defender John Brooks could make his return following an adductor injury.