Bayern Munich’s mounting injury toll will leave Carlo Ancelotti without six of his biggest stars for Saturday’s season-opener against Bayer Leverkusen, including new signing James Rodriguez.
The former Real Madrid playmaker remains sidelined with a thigh complaint while Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Thiago Alcantara, Juan Bernat and Javi Martinez have also been ruled out of the clash at the Allianz Arena, with Arturo Vidal no certainty to start.
The absences add to Ancelotti’s headache after an underwhelming pre-season in which the German champions lost to Arsenal, AC Milan, Inter, Liverpool and Napoli.
Bayern did improve to beat Borussia Dortmund on penalties in the DFL-Supercup before dispatching third-tier Chemnitzer 5-0 in the first round of the DFB-Pokal last weekend.
Sven Ulreich kept a clean sheet in that match and will again deputise for Neuer as the skipper continues his recovery from a fractured foot.
— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) August 17, 2017
“[Neuer] will not play tomorrow, we won’t take any risk. I think he can play against Werder Bremen [next weekend],” Ancelotti said.
“James trained on his own today but I don’t know yet if he can play against Bremen.
“I think Martinez and Thiago can train with the team next week.”
New signing Niklas Sule is again expected to replace Boateng in defence, while fellow close-season arrivals Corentin Tolisso and Sebastian Rudy could partner in midfield.
Arjen Robben and David Alaba are both expected to be in contention for a start against Leverkusen, who have added Germany international Sven Bender to a squad that finished 13th last season.
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