DFB-Pokal QF Preview: Stuttgart v Bayern

All aboard, it’s cup time. Can Bayern regain confidence tonight or will the drama continue? What happens in midfield? Will Arjen Robben survive?

You read it in the recap (or not, what do I know): the last match wasn’t horrible but horribly frustrating. This team currently struggles to create scoring chances, whether it’s because the full-backs don’t offer enough support or because the central midfielders do the same or because there is no offensive midfielder who can receive the ball and play the final pass or a bit of everything, that’s your decision. What’s safe to say is that there won’t be many changes tonight.

Rafinha returns and will play, at least slightly reducing the Robben isolation (on the pitch!). Aside from that, it doesn’t look like anything will change. Some wonder if Heynckes plans to field a defensive midfielder instead of Thomas Müller but his recent statements regarding the top scorer of the last World Cup make me doubt it. Or he goes back to the old successful lineup without Robben but, again, I doubt it.

What’s definitely needed though are changes in the players’ minds. Be confident, be inspired, try unexpected things, take a risk, embody ‘mia san mia’. Get rid of the ‘same old, same old’ football.

One player who will be highly motivated is Arjen Robben. Not only because his third kid, son Kai (congrats), was born this Sunday, but also because the stadium will despise him. If you remember the last match in Stuttgart, about two months ago, left-back Cristian Molinaro was sent off after only 30 minutes after two bookable offenses against Robben. Both right decisions but the club and especially the fans didn’t like Robben’s behavior so he’s their current bogeyman. Expect a hostile atmosphere, expect a Robben who’s dying to silence them all.

Also expect a 4-4-2. VfB coach Bruno Labbadia isn’t a fan of changing things so anything but the same lineup as against Leverkusen (2-2) would be a surprise. He might replace striker/left midfielder Julian Schieber with Martin Harnik to add more speed and strengthen the fast, direct approach they’ll be looking for.

Neuer

Rafinha – Boateng – Badstuber – Lahm

Schweinsteiger – Kroos

Robben – Müller – Ribery

Gomez

_________________________

Ibisevic – Cacau

Schieber – Gentner – Kvist – Okazaki

Molinaro – Niedermeier – Tasci – Boulahrouz

Ulreich

What more can be said? Nothing? I agree. Let’s hope for a match we can enjoy, it’s been a while.

 

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