Verdict: Away win
Best odds: 10/13
Along with the Revierderby which always attracts attention and brings up the rivalry between Schalke 04 and Borussia Dortmund regardless of form of table positions, the meeting between Eintracht and Bayern Munich set to take place in Frankfurt on Saturday afternoon should be one of the more interesting matches of the 22nd round of the 2020-21 Bundesliga season.
It has been a very exciting campaign for the Eagles, that much can be said with some certainty. Having finished ninth last term, they are now in third place with 39 points, and appear set to battle for a place in the Champions League against Wolfsburg in fourth with the same tally, Bayer Leverkusen in fifth with three points less, Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Monchengladbach in sixth and seventh, respectively, and both on 33.
Eintracht’s current form can only be described as impressive, with five wins and one draw in the last six league matches. They beat Schalke 3-1 at home, Arminia Bielefeld away by 1-5, Hertha Berlin at home by 3-1, Hoffenheim away by 1-3 and FC Koln at home by 2-0 most recently. Second-half goals from Andre Silva and Evan N’Dicka made sure the points stayed at the Deutsche Bank Park in that match. The only team that managed to take something from them in that time are SC Freiburg, who earned a 2-2 draw.
Adi Hutter’s team received a strong boost in the form striker Luka Jovic who came back on loan from Real Madrid in January, and the Serbia international already has three goals in six games since then.
Nonetheless, Jovic has started the last few games on the bench and did well when brought on. Given the form the team are in, Hutter is unlikely make many changes, which means Andre Silva could be preferred to the Real Madrid man again at the start of the game.
Hutter has no injury issues, and the only player unavailable for selection is Djibril Sowe, who is suspended for yellow card accumulation. Sebastian Rode is expected to take his place in the middle of the park.
A standard season for the Bavarians, one might say, or might’ve said had there not been for the Champions League triumph last summer and the FIFA World Cup one earlier this month. With the Bundesliga title and the DFP-Pokal in their hands as well, Bayern are now practically the champions of everything. Striker Robert Lewandowski and his quality have been the talk of the football world for a while now, and many feel the Pole was extremely unlucky that the Ballon d’Or wasn’t awarded for 2020 due to the effects of the ongoing pandemic; it would probably have been his, after a decade of domination by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. At the moment, the 32-year-old striker has 30 goals and eight assists in 29 matches in all club competitions this term.
Speaking of domination, Bayern are currently on course for their ninth consecutive domestic title. They lead the way with 49 points, five more than RB Leipzig in second and 10 more than their hosts in this match in third. Admittedly, it’s not a very big advantage and there’s a long way to go yet, but with all due respect to the rest of the league, it will indeed be a miracle if any other team lifts the trophy at the end of the season.
Like Eintracht, Bayern won five of their last six matches in the league. They beat Freiburg 2-1 at home, won 0-1 away to Augsburg, 0-4 away to Schalke, 4-1 at home against Hoffenheim, and 0-1 against Hertha in Berlin, but their last match was a shocking but stunning 3-3 draw at home against relegation battlers Arminia Bielefeld. The visitors were two goals up at halftime, with Michel Vlap and Amos Pieper on target. Lewandowski pulled one back after the restart, only to see Christian Gebauer add Arminia’s third a minute later. Still, Corentin Tolisso and Alphonso Davies made sure Bayern avoided a real embarrassment.
In the Champions League, Hans-Dieter Flick’s team made easy work of Group A, topping it ahead of Atletico Madrid, RB Salzburg and Lokomotiv Moscow. They face Serie A side Lazio in the round of 16, with the first leg being played next week in Rome.
Unlike Hutter, Flick has a number of players missing through injury. Douglas Costa has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a broken ankle, while fellow winger Serge Gnabry won’t play for a month due to a hamstring problem. Defender Benjamin Pavard (reportedly) and forward Thomas Muller won’t play due to testing positive to coronavirus. Midfielders Javi Garcia and Leon Goretzka, goalkeeper Alexander Nubel and defender Tanguy Nianzou are also out through different injury issues.
David Alaba, who has confirmed he’ll be leaving the club at the end of the season, is set to take command of the back four, with Joshua Kimmich in midfield, and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting possibly replacing Muller behind Lewandowski.
This should really be a good game of football, and in other circumstances, you wouldn’t want to rule out Eintracht stunning the champions in front of the full stadium, but as it is, they will be bereft of that support of course. On the other hand, Bayern are a well-oiled machine, and they’ll be looking to make this one count fully after the Arminia disappointment. And given the vast quality they have, they are the strong favourites to win and travel to Rome in high spirits.
Verdict: Away win
Best odds: 10/13