We play Bayern tomorrow and if you didn't know, they are a scary good team. From ex-BVB super striker Robert Lewandowski to brick wall goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, this is a powerhouse team and most likely the second most talented in Europe. We spoke to Ryan Cowper from SB Nation's Bayern blog Bavarian FB Works to try to pick the mind of someone who greatly understands enemy
FTW:Only 5 points between us now, do you think a renewed title race will put Bayerns European aspirations in jeopardy?
Ryan: No. The only thing that will put Bayern's European title aspirations in jeopardy is injury. The depth of this squad is built to survive three simultaneous competitions with enough rotation and different types of players to keep Pep Guardiola filled to the gills with tactical choices. A renewed title race just makes the Bundesliga stretch run a lot more interesting.
FTW:Have you noticed the team act differently on and off the pitch now that they know their coach will be leaving them at the end of the season?
Ryan:That's a difficult question to answer. I can't believe it's not affecting the players but how seems to be bigger question. Do they really want to win a European title for Pep Guardiola before he goes out? Their second half switch off against Juventus certainly doesn't seem to indicate that. Are they glad to be rid of him? The effort and drive they put into even just the most basic Bundesliga ties certainly doesn't seem to indicate that. I'd imagine the truth is somewhere in between. Guys like Arjen Robben and Rafinha who have immensely benefitted from Pep Guardiola's tutelage are probably sad to see him leave. Guys like Mario Götze probably can't be asked to care. But with the reverence that most Bayern players use when talking about how much Guardiola has improved them as professionals, I'd imagine they're all sad in some way.
FTW:How much do Robben and Ribery have left in the tank? And does their looming absence really matter to Bayern at all, or is it business as usual?
Ryan: Both Robben and Ribery show flashes of brilliance, the ability to take over games completely, go quiet for a game, then get injured. In many ways, it's just business as usual for them and for Bayern. However, as opposed to the past any absence from them don't really matter. Bayern Munich already has Douglas Costa who's shown he's almost every bit the player Franck Ribery is (unless Pep decides to keep playing him in the middle) and Kingsley Coman at just 19 has been a terror for Bundesliga defenses and has all the skill and tools to be a massive star. All that's really needed now is more experience for both of them.
FTW:A lot has been made of bayerns defensive injuries, but is there defense really as weak as the number or injuries might make it seem?
Ryan:Yes. It's bad. This time can't play a high line to save itself and can't defend a set piece competently (not that they could do that before though). While Guardiola has shown pragmatism in some matches by shifting his line deeper and keeping the game in front of his weakened backline, it's still bad and opening space in a midfield composed solely of Arturo Vidal is the equivalent of allowing open season for Dortmund. Pep hasn't shown anything in recent weeks that suggests Bayern can curtail a dynamic attacking midfield and at this point, I don't know what answer he's going to come up with against Dortmund. Hopefully one that works.
FTW:Score predictions for the game? Goal scorers?
Ryan: I'm not one for score predictions as I'm inherently pessimistic when it comes to Bundesliga games. Given that Bayern's defense ranges wildly between amazing and incompetent let's go 2-2 draw with a Marco Reus brace and a Mats Hummels gaffe that would make even Marc-Andre ter Stegen point and laugh.
FTW: Who will finish with more goals this term Lewy or Auba
Ryan:Robert Lewandowski. I'm going to have to play the homer card here.
FTW: ARE YOU CONSPIRING TO JOIN THE EUROPEAN SUPER LEAGUE YOU TRAITOR?!?!?!?!
Ryan:Only if you hold our hand and happily skip into that bright light with us