Bayern Munich and Real Madrid will meet today in the final of the Audi Cup in Munich, both sides having progressed comfortably to the pre-season tournament’s decider with opening-day wins.
Indeed, the tournament hosts made light work of AC Milan at theAllianz Arena Tuesday, cruising to a 3-0 scoreline thanks to goals from Juan Bernat, Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski.
It was a rather potent display from Bayern, particularly given that manager Pep Guardiola deployed an unfamiliar starting XI missing major stars and featuring new faces Arturo Vidal, Douglas Costa, Joshua Kimmich and Sven Ulreich.
The victory will have also been pleasing for the Bavarians following consecutive penalty-shootout losses to Guangzhou Evergrandeand Wolfsburg, the second of which came in the German Super Cup.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, coasted past Tottenham 2-0 in Tuesday’s opening clash in Munich, as goals from James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale in either half were enough to see Rafa Benitez’s side past the North Londoners.
In a match that was also missing big names—Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema haven’t travelled to Germany for this competition—Los Blancos‘ performance was perhaps a touch more laborious thanBayern‘s later in the night, as Benitez ended the contest with fringe players Marco Asensio, Borja Mayoral, Lucas Vazquez, DenisCheryshev, Nacho, Alvaro Arbeloa, Casemiro and Asier Illarramendi all on the pitch.
But might today’s final, pitting two famous European rivalsagainst each other, pave way for a significantly more intense showdown?
Date: Wednesday, August 5
Time: 7:45 p.m. BST / 2:45 p.m. ET / 8:45 p.m. local
Venue: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
TV Info: Premier Sports (UK), ESPN2 (U.S.), beIN Sports (Spain), ZDF(Germany)
Following his use of an experimental lineup against AC Milan, PepGuardiola could turn to his bigger names today, with both ArjenRobben and Thiago Alcantara fresh after being rested for the meeting with the Italians.
Additionally, first-team regulars Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, DavidAlaba, Xabi Alonso, Medhi Benatia and Manuel Neuer will all likely come into consideration for Guardiola‘s starting XI, given that none of them started Tuesday’s game.
However, Kimmich will sit this one out after being withdrawn early against Milan following a heavy challenge from Nigel de Jong, and Franck Ribery and Dante are still missing as they recover from an ankle injury and muscle problem, respectively.
For Real Madrid, both Ronaldo and Benzema will be missing from Benitez’s lineup, as mentioned above, with the pair staying in the Spanish capital after picking up minor issues in training.
As such, Gareth Bale will continue to have the attack built around him in a 4-2-3-1 system, the Welshman currently being used in a free-roaming role from behind the striker—in this case, Jese.
After sitting out the meeting with Tottenham, Daniel Carvajal and Pepe are likely to come into the starting XI in a pre-season of heavy rotation, while Keylor Navas could also replace Kiko Casilla in goal.
Players To Watch
When it comes to Guardiola and Bayern Munich, predicting lineups is almost impossible. From Pep, we’ve seen almost everything in terms of formations at the Allianz Arena.
As such, Guardiola‘s use of Arturo Vidal—we’ve got him down in the midfield pivot, but he could play any number of positions in any number of systems—will be fascinating this season after the Chilean’s high-profile move to Bavaria from Juventus.
A rugged and ferocious midfielder combining relentless energy, strong ball-winning skills and attacking punch, Vidal brings something different to Bayern‘s central cast, giving Guardiola greater power and thrust through the middle.
Thus, exactly how Vidal is to be used today in an expected stronger lineup will be intriguing to watch.
On the other side, all eyes remain fixed on Bale, who, despite scoring against Tottenham on Tuesday, still hasn’t been entirely convincing in his new central role.
The idea, it seems, is to return the Welshman to the sort of free-wheeling, high-velocity role he performed at White Hart Lane, but Real Madrid’s more technical method featuring the likes of Isco and James Rodriguez means such a position is difficult to recreate. And the Madrid-based press haven’t been impressed thus far.
“The Welshman ran about like a headless chicken in his hybrid role,” wrote AS after Tuesday’s meeting with Spurs, “half attacking midfielder/half striker, wearing himself out and contributing little.”
Such an assessment is harsh on Bale, but nevertheless, he needs a strong performance against Bayern Munich given that he’s currently being flanked by players who, in theory, are better suited to the No. 10-style role.