Bayern face defensive puzzle ahead of PSG clash next week

Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann must solve a defensive riddle ahead of Saturday’s Bundesliga match against VfB Stuttgart and next week’s Champions League clash against Paris St Germain.

His best defender currently, in-form Benjamin Pavard, is suspended for their Round of 16 match against the French side next week after his red card in the first leg in Paris where Bayern won 1-0.

His replacement next week would likely be fellow France international Dayot Upamecano, back from his one-match league suspension last week.

Nagelsmann said he could end up using Upamecano on Saturday against Stuttgart despite Pavard’s current form in order to give him match practice ahead of Wednesday.

“This is a decision we will take tomorrow,” Nagelsmann told a news conference on Friday when asked about who would play against Stuttgart.

“Obviously Benji is in outstanding form and we want to and have to win the league game against Stuttgart. Looking at it isolated he has to play… but there is the issue of his suspension for Wednesday.”

The Bavarians’ rocky start to the year has seen their lead in the Bundesliga evaporate and they are currently only ahead on goal difference from second-placed Borussia Dortmund, who also have 46 points.

“Benji would understand it if he would not play (on Saturday) based on the rhythm necessary (also for Wednesday) but on the other hand it’s primarily about winning a Bundesliga game,” said the coach.

Bayern go into Wednesday’s Champions League clash with their 1-0 advantage but while PSG striker Kylian Mbappe only played a substitute role due to a minor injury, he will play in the return leg.

“For Wednesday we need a different solution (than Pavard) that could and will go by the name of Upamecano. His speed and power would help against Mbappe,” Nagelsmann said.

“Apart from Alphonso (Davies) he is the one player who can keep up with that speed. Maybe not the entire time but he is a very fast player. It is an interesting consideration… and we will need to decide.”

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