Champion Bayern Munich is struggling with COVID-19 cases and an ongoing discussion on players’ vaccinations, with defenders Josip Stanisic and Niklas Suele sidelined after positive tests, as it prepares to face Augsburg in Friday’s Bavarian derby.
Suele tested positive earlier this month, forcing four team mates – Serge Gnabry, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Jamal Musiala and Joshua Kimmich – to go into isolation until two days ago.
Kimmich, who has not been vaccinated after voicing his concerns over potential long-term effects, has been at the heart of an ongoing discussion about whether top footballers should all take the shot given their role model function in society.
Fans for the game need to have either proof of vaccination or proof of having recovered from an infection.
Kimmich will, however, stay in the same hotel with the team for the trip to Augsburg, benefiting from an exception in new health rules issued by the state of Bavaria, that allows for professional travel and accommodation of non-vaccinated people.
Bayern, chasing an unprecedented 10th consecutive league crown, is four points clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund and with a league record 40-goal haul after 11 Bundesliga matches, few would bet against it in Augsburg.
But the host knows that if the champion is not fully focused on the game at the start, it could have a chance.
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“We know we’re outsiders and from 10 matches Bayern will win nine, normally. But we’ll still try to get points,” Augsburg coach Markus Weinzierl said.
“We’ll need a perfect day, a perfect goalkeeper on the day. A lot of things must come together. We have to be alert from the start. But it’s theoretically possible. We’ve done it twice before during my spells at Augsburg.”
Weinzierl also coached the club between 2012-16 before returning late last season. His team beat Bayern at home in 2014 and earned an away win in Munich a year later.
“Bayern have quality. That much is clear. But in our last three home games, we got seven points,” Weinzierl said.
“Especially defensively, we have to be stable, we have to be present and become a difficult opponent, spoil their game.”
Dortmund, which is without injured striker Erling Haaland, hosts VfB Stuttgart. Freiburg, in third place and two points behind on 22, entertains Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.