Home Bundesliga Bayern is down to one center-back ahead of the Dortmund.

Bayern is down to one center-back ahead of the Dortmund.

by James Olley
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Before their classic match against Dortmund in the 10th round of the Bundesliga this weekend, Bayern is facing a severe defensive crisis.

Bayern will travel to Dortmund on Saturday without two center-backs, Dayot Upamecano and Matthijs De Ligt. While Upamecano is still recovering from a muscle injury, De Ligt tore the ligament in his right knee during the 1-2 defeat to Saarbrucken, a third-division team, in the German DFB-Pokal on November 1.

The defensive crisis has forced Coach Thomas Tuchel to deploy Joshua Kimmich as a center-back after De Ligt left the field in the 25th minute of the match against Saarbrucken. However, Kimmich won’t be available for the Dortmund match as he received a red card in the previous game. This leaves Bayern only one recognized center-back for the away game at Signal Iduna Park, Kim Min-jae.

Kim Min-jae (left) is the only fit center-back for Bayern ahead of the match against Dortmund on November 5.

“We were punished in the cruelest way possible,” said Coach Tuchel on November 2, just before the 10th round of the Bundesliga. “It’s essential to find a solution to compete against Dortmund.”

At the start of the season, Coach Tuchel had mentioned that Bayern’s squad lacked the depth to compete across three competitions, but the honorary president, Uli Hoeness, and the leadership council disagreed and decided not to sign many more players. The shocking defeat in the second round of the DFB-Pokal in the middle of the week has increased the pressure on the 50-year-old manager.

Bayern legend Lothar Matthaus criticized Tuchel’s player selection in the loss on November 1. The 62-year-old former midfielder said, “It’s inexplicable. Tuchel gambled and lost to Saarbrucken. If I were Tuchel, I would have put the best 11 on the field and substituted them after 50 or 60 minutes. Having Kane sit out the entire match and be eliminated is regrettable. On the other hand, Bayern has enough experienced players on the field, so they should have won this match.”

When playing against Saarbrucken on November 1 as visitors, Bayern made five changes to the starting lineup compared to their 8-0 victory against Darmstadt in the ninth round of the Bundesliga. The visiting team led initially but was drawn level at the end of the first half. In the second half, Coach Thomas Tuchel brought Jamal Musiala, Kingsley Coman, and Serge Gnabry onto the field, but Bayern failed to score and even lost in injury time.

The defeat has left Bayern in a crisis, not only in terms of personnel but also in terms of morale. “The loss in the DFB-Pokal can act as a cleansing effect and bring the players closer together,” commented former German midfielder Dietmar Hamann, who is now a pundit for Sky Sports. “But I haven’t had a good feeling looking at the team in recent months. Right now, in the Bundesliga, Leverkusen is on the rise, while Bayern is on the decline.”

If Bayern loses to Dortmund on November 5, they will be surpassed by their direct rivals in the standings and could fall five points behind Leverkusen after ten rounds. “It’s tough to swallow the DFB-Pokal defeat, but we have to put it behind us and come together in these difficult circumstances,” forward Thomas Muller said ahead of the big clash this weekend.

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