BERLIN: Carlo Ancelotti’s Bayern Munich will be looking to silence their critics with victory over Mainz in the Bundesliga this Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
A 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in the Champions League on Tuesday was overshadowed by reports of internal disharmony in Munich. The German media have reported growing discord between coach Ancelotti and leading players such as Thomas Mueller, Franck Ribery and Robert Lewandowski.
Borussia Dortmund host Cologne on Sunday, as they look to bounce back from defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in midweek.
Here are five things to look out for in the Bundesliga this weekend:
Boateng returns for Bayern
Jerome Boateng looks set to make his Bundesliga return against Mainz, having been sidelined through injury since May 20.
“We need to play more as a team, with more concentration,” said the defender amid reports of dressing room disharmony this week.
Mueller may also return to the starting line-up, as Ancelotti looks to rotate his squad after Tuesday’s Champions League fixture.
Mainz coach Sandro Schwarz is expected to pick the same team which cantered to a 3-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen last weekend.
Aubameyang’s Cologne curse
Dortmund will be looking to return to their free-scoring ways against Cologne after a disappointing 0-0 draw in Freiburg last weekend.
Star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be expected to deliver, though his record against Sunday’s opponents is hardly encouraging. Cologne remain the only Bundesliga team against whom Aubameyang has never scored.
After both Marcel Schmelzer and Marc Bartra picked up injuries against Freiburg, Omer Toprak and Jeremy Toljan are expected to start in defence.
Cologne coach Peter Stoeger may well rest some key players after their Europa League opener against Arsenal on Thursday.
Leipzig without Keita and Forsberg
Champions League goalscorer Emil Forsberg is expected to be rested for RB Leipzig’s clash with Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Forsberg scored Leipzig’s first ever Champions League goal in their 1-1 draw with Monaco on Wednesday.
Attention now turns to Saturday’s game, as Leipzig look to show they can deal with a busy schedule.
They are still without midfield star Naby Keita, who was sidelined with a groin injury against Monaco.
Laszlo Benes is the latest player on a growing injury list for Gladbach. The midfielder was forced to undergo surgery after breaking his foot in a midweek friendly.
Midfield all-rounder Jonas Hofmann looks set to return as Gladbach go after their first win since the opening weekend.
Hanover eye top spot
Hanover have been one of the season’s early surprises, and could go top of the Bundesliga with a win over Hamburg on Friday.
The promoted side is unbeaten since Andre Breitenreiter took over in April, and have not conceded a single goal at home under the new coach.
“Hanover are an opponent who are full confidence,” said Hamburg sporting director Jens Todt. “I’m expecting an open game; anything can happen.”
Hamburg are still without key forwards Nicolai Mueller and Filip Kostic. If they too fail to score at the HDI-Arena, then Hanover may top the Bundesliga for the first time in 48 years.
Both Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin will be fresh from Europa League action when they meet on Sunday.
Hoffenheim remain unbeaten in second, having shown their quality with a 2-0 win over Bayern last Saturday.
Hertha’s hopes of taking something back to Berlin lie with Mathew Leckie, who has three goals in three league games for his new club.
The Australian’s form is all the more important given that neither Vedad Ibisevic nor Salomon Kalou has found the net this season.