Bayern Munich ended their short slump at the weekend, beating Wolfsburg 3-1 to ease pressure on new head coach Niko Kovac. The Croatian coach came under pressure after back-to-back defeats in the Bundesliga but returned to the top four with a comfortable away win. Usually, a lot can be told about Bayern’s Champions League starting XIs from the weekend before their games, but with Kovac under pressure, he decided not to rest their key names.
As a result, Robert Lewandowski and James Rodriguez started and got their names on the scoresheet, with the duo likely to the lineup again at AEK Athens in Tuesday’s early kick-off. Franck Ribery was likely rested at the weekend in favour of Serge Gnabry, but an injury means the French winger has not travelled to Greece and could see Gnabry start a second successive game.
Thomas Muller and Renato Sanches were also left out of the side that started in Wolfsburg, meaning there is a strong possibility both could start on Tuesday. Sanches has impressed so far in the Champions League this season and could be the driving force in midfield once again.
The fact that Niklas Sule was chosen to face the media in the pre-match press conference is a good indication that he will start in defence. Jerome Boateng was rested on Saturday but has been less than convincing so far this season, so is likely to miss out once again.
Hoffenheim host Lyon in one of Tuesday’s late games, with the Germans boosted by news of an inury to OL talisman Nabil Fekir. However, TSG will be without Leonardo Bittecourt and Dennis Geiger, paving the way for young English talent Reiss Nelson to start in Europe.
The Arsenal loanee scored twice in the weekend win over Nurnberg, having made his first Bundesliga start for the club. That performance should surely help his prospects of featuring more regularly for Julian Nagelsmann and follows up an impressive international break where he also found the net for England Under-21s.
Ghanaian defender Kasim Adams also started on Saturday, returning from an ankle injury that ruled him out of the previous five league games as well as aboth their Champions League games so far. The young centre-back is highly regarded having joined from Young Boys and will get a chance to prove himself against Lyon as Hoffenheim look to repeat their positive performance against Manchester City from last time out which unfortunately failed to seal them a point against much stronger opposition.
Of all the German teams in action this week, Borussia Dortmund have the most difficult challenge, facing Spanish giants Atletico Madrid. However, Lucien Favre’s side will be full of confidence heading into the home tie against the Europa League holders, having recorded yet another fine display at the weekend, beating Stuttgart 4-0 to stay top of the Bundesliga.
Paco Alcacer started for the first time in that game, but was forced off with a thigh problem. An injury to the striker could see Maximilian Philipp return to the starting XI, while both Christian Pulisic and Marius Wolf are available again after injury.
Jadon Sancho was also handed a rare start for BVB, but might have to watch from the bench from the beginning of the game despite leading the Bundesliga assist charts. Marco Reus has continued his great form and will be crucial for Dortmund as they look to record their third successive win in Group A.
Schalke travel to Galatasaray on the back of another poor Bundesliga performance, but their inconsistent league form is yet to have a major impact on their European showings. S04 are currently joint top of their European group, with Weston McKennie’s late goal giving them all three points against Lokomotiv Moscow in Russia last time out.
The big concern for under-pressure head coach Domenico Tedesco is in goal, with captain Ralf Fahrmann ruled out due to a thigh injury. Young stopper Alexander Nubel will deputise between the sticks, playing just his fourth senior game ever, having just made his debut at the end of last season.
Veteran keeper Michael Langer wasn’t registered for the Champions League squad, meaning 17-year-olds Yannic Lenze or Erdem Canpolat are in line to make the bench. Tedesco must also decide whether to start full-back Hamza Mendyl, who was hauled off during Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Werder Bremen due to the risk of a red card after one too many badly-timed tackles. The Moroccan is excellent going forward, but may be dropped unless he can improve the defensive side of his game.