Tuchel's injury-ravaged Bayern wary of Augsburg slip-up

AFP , Friday 26 Jan 2024

Bayern Munich manager Thomas Tuchel said he felt "a little bit jinxed" by his club's luck, as the Bundesliga champions head for resurgent Augsburg on Saturday with fresh injury concerns.

Thomas Tuchel
Bayern Munich coach Thomas Tuchel has several injury headaches to deal with in Saturday s trip to Augsburg. AFP

 

Bayern fought to a 1-0 home win against Union Berlin on Wednesday, closing the gap with leaders Bayern Leverkusen to four points.

The victory came at a price however, with defender Dayot Upamecano and midfielders Joshua Kimmich and Konrad Laimer picking up injuries.

While Kimmich may miss just one match, Laimer and Upamecano look likely to be out for several weeks.

Tuchel lamented the bad luck with the injuries coming as defenders Kim Min-jae and Noussair Mazraoui are away on international duty.

The long-term absence of injured forward Serge Gnabry has increased Bayern's reliance on Harry Kane and Leroy Sane, but the club is really feeling the pinch in midfield and defence.

England defender Eric Dier made his Bayern debut on Wednesday, coming on at half-time to replace Upamecano.

Admitting Dier was "thrown in the deep end", Tuchel praised the defender's "presence, confidence and experience" against Union and said the transfer has "already paid off".

Dier could be key against Augsburg, a side who have held their own against their illustrious Bavarian neighbours in recent seasons.

First promoted to the Bundesliga in 2011, Augsburg have finished in the top half of the table just twice in their history.

Despite this, Bayern have lost two and drawn one of their past four league matches in Augsburg.

The hosts are also on a hot streak since appointing Danish manager Jess Thorup in mid-October.

Thorup came in with the club hovering just one point above the relegation spots and has turned the club around.

Augsburg have lost just three of 11 matches to pick up 16 points -- the same amount as Champions League hopefuls Stuttgart and Borussia Dortmund in that time.

Thorup said Thursday he "did not care so much about the past" and warned that Bayern's injury woes would make them less predictable.

"It's difficult to know what they'll do now," Thorup said, but called on his side to be courageous.

"If we only focus on defending, Bayern will score a goal. That won't work."

Leverkusen, who are also missing several stars due to injury and international duty, host derby rivals Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Xabi Alonso's side will be looking to get past struggling Gladbach with little drama, having needed injury-time winners in their past two games.

One to watch: Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig)

After two straight losses to start 2024, the return of star forward Dani Olmo in Saturday's 3-2 loss to Bayer Leverkusen was a rare sliver of good news for RB Leipzig.

The Spanish player started his first match for Leipzig since early September, laying on a pinpoint assist for Lois Openda to score on the counter in the second-half

Olmo was in blistering form before going down with injury. He scored five goals in his opening four matches, including a hat-trick in Leipzig's 3-0 win over Bayern Munich in the Supercup in August.

With the impressive Xavi Simons set to miss Saturday's clash with third-placed Stuttgart due to suspension, Olmo's return has come at the perfect time for Leipzig coach Marco Rose.

Key stats

7-0: Dortmund have scored seven goals and conceded none to win their opening two games in 2024, closing a six-point gap to fourth-placed RB Leipzig in the process.

48 of 54: Bayer Leverkusen have dropped just six of a possible 54 points this season, the third-best start at this point in Bundesliga history.

Two: Harry Kane has not scored in his past two league fixtures -- his longest 'drought' of the season.

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