Hoffenheim vs Bayern Munich Preview: Classic Encounter, Key Battle, Team News & More

?After the international break, the Bundesliga returns this week with a mouthwatering clash between 1899 Hoffenheim and Bayern Munich at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena.

The hosts have picked up four points from six games thus far, with a opening weekend 1-0 win against Werder Bremen followed by an respectable 2-2 draw away at Bayer Leverkusen.

For the visitors, as expected, they’ve attained maximum points from their opening two fixtures, beating the same teams Hoffenheim played, by coincidence. They beat Bayer 3-1 at the Allianz Arena, and then won 2-0 away at Werder Bremen thanks to a Robert Lewandowski double.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this clash:


Classic Encounter

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim v Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga

For Bayern, Hoffenheim represents something of a bogey team for the Bundesliga champions. Hoffenheim were the only team Bayern failed to beat in the German top flight last season, drawing 1-1 at home and losing 1-0 away.

For this fixture’s classic encounter, we go to its most recent – that 1-0 loss away to Hoffenheim in April 2017 ended Bayern’s 20-match unbeaten league run, and although it didn’t derail the leaders as the season approached its climax, it showed the threat of Julian Nagelsmann’s side when on home turf.

Positioned in third place at the time, Hoffenheim won the game due to a first-half half-volley from ex-Leicester striker Andrej Kramaric. Hoffenheim dominated the first-half, and although the second-half was marred with Bayern chances, goalkeeper Oliver Baumann pulled off a string of saves from Franck Ribery and Lewandowksi (who earlier hit the crossbar). It was Hoffenheim’s first ever win against Bayern. 

It was a result which surprised many, and reminds Bayern that they are not invincible, and will have to be wary of Hoffenheim’s attacking threat this Saturday.


Key Battle

Robert Lewandowski vs Ermin Bicakcic, Havard Nordtveit & Benjamin Hübner 

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim v Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga

With Hoffenheim likely to line-up with a back three trio of Ermin Bicakcic, Havard Nordtveit and Benjamin Hubner, the way in which they deal with the threat of Robert Lewandowksi will be pivotal in shaping the outcome of this game.

The Polish international striker has already hit the ground running this season, scoring three goals in two games. So often the match winner for Bayern, his role in linking with Bayern’s attacking threats, such as Arjen Robben, Thiago Alcantara and Franck Ribery, as well as the finishing prowess he undoubtedly possesses will be crucial in putting pressure on Hoffenheim’s back three.

Liverpool ran riot in the first 20 minutes of their Champions League play-off second-leg, with the back three formation coming unstuck against quick, incisive attacking play. The hosts will want to nullify that threat Bayern posses, most notably with Lewandowksi, early on.


Team News

Bayer 04 Leverkusen v TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - Bundesliga

Julian Nagelsmann is very likely to make changes given the visit of Bayern, and ramifications from a testing two weeks of international duty on the Hoffenheim squad.

Forward Adam Szalai picked up an adductor injury playing for Hungary and is highly likely to miss out. On-loan midfielder Serge Gnabry, who signed for Bayern in the summer from Werder Bremen before moving to Hoffenheim for the season, could also be absent against his parent club due to an ankle injury.

Carlo Ancelotti’s main concern is at left-back. David Alaba was substituted in the first-half of Austria’s World Cup qualifier with Georgia due to an ankle complaint, and it’ll be touch-and-go to see if he’s fit for the game. With Juan Bernat a long-term absentee, it may well fall to Rafinha to shift over to the left-hand side of defence, with versatile Josh Kimmich moving to right-back.

It remains to be seen whether James Rodriguez will make his Bundesliga debut. The Columbian played 90 minutes for his nation against Brazil, and will be desperate to make an impact during a club career which has somewhat stalled given his stagnation at Real Madrid. Sebastian Rudy is likely to start in midfield against his former club. 


Potential Hoffenheim Starting Lineup: Baumann; Bicakcic, Nordtveit, Hubner; Kaderabek, Demirbay, Rupp, Schulz; Uth, Kramaric; Wagner 

Potential Bayern Starting Lineup: Neuer; Kimmich, Süle, Hummels, Rafinha; Rudy, Tolisso; Robben, Thiago, Robert; Lewandowski 


Prediction

SV Werder Bremen v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga

This is a much more difficult match to predict than it may seem on paper.

Bayern Munich are obviously the favourites. despite playing away from home. They’ve been utterly dominant during recent years in the Bundesliga, and have a habit of sweeping away challenges like Hoffenheim with relative ease. 

And yet, they failed to beat Hoffenheim last season, and that will definitely play on the mind of Carlo Ancelotti’s men as they enter the Rhein-Neckar-Arena. Hoffenheim’s expansive style of play will have to be matched with defensive discipline if they are to get anything from the game.

Despite Hoffenheim’s threat, Bayern will make it three wins from three.

Prediction: 1899 Hoffenheim 1-3 Bayern Munich

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James Rodriguez Reveals Topic of On-Field Conversation With Neymar in World Cup Qualifier

?Colombia brought Brazil’s run of nine consecutive victories in the World Cup qualifiers to an end on Tuesday, coming from behind to secure a 1-1 draw against the qualification front runners in Barranquilla.

Chelsea man Willian opened the scoring for Brazil just before half time, with Monaco’s Falcao levelling the scoring early in the second half to earn the hosts a valuable point in their bid to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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Aside from all the action throughout the game, one moment that drew the attention of fans was when Neymar and James Rodriguez held a conversation with one another. The two stars looked very much at ease as they met on the pitch, with their relaxed mannerisms leading fans to speculate as to what to duo were speaking about.

As it turned out, the two were simply discussing the heat in Colombia’s northern city of Barranquilla, with the evening temperatures reaching as high as 37 degrees celsius. In a post-match interview, as reported on by Sport, Colombia star James revealed the conversation he had with Neymar.

“I said to him ‘Hey! Why are you still running so much?'” James said, adding that he’s always been friendly with Neymar.

The Brazilian replied: “Yes, yes, I’m dead already,” with the PSG man going on to admit his struggles with the heat, saying: “I think they put an oven inside. It was very hot but we managed to withstand the problems in the games. We are happy with the team’s two games.”

Despite the dropped points, Brazil’s head coach Tite was happy with his sides performance, saying: “I was more pleased with the consistency of this game than the last against Ecuador,” as reported by ESPN.

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“Today we maintained a standard of performance that gives consistency to the team. The resulting draw was just. But if there was a winner, it would be Brazil because of the chances created.”

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Inter Reportedly Lineup Bayern Munich Defender Jerome Boateng as January Transfer Target

?Inter are reportedly prepared to make a move for Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng in the January transfer window if he fails to regain his place in Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

The 29-year-old was an integral member of the Bavarian side between 2011 and 2015, but has been plagued by injuries in recent seasons which has restricted the German international to just 32 appearances in the Bundesliga for Bayern in the last two seasons.

According to ?Tuttomercatoweb, with Boateng’s position at Bayern under threat Inter’s technical coordinator Walter Sabatini is set to meet with the club’s owners in the coming days to discuss their transfer plans and budget for January.

This is reportedly where Sabatini is set to raise the prospect of Boateng as a key point of the discussion, after the Italian club are understood to have ‘tested the waters’ for the 29-year-old on deadline day.

Bayern Muenchen v SC Freiburg - Bundesliga

The Nerazzurri are in the market for a centre-back after losing Jeison Murillo to Valencia over the summer, and it has been suggested that Inter will follow up on their summer interest if Boateng continues to struggle for a place in Acenlotti’s starting lineup.

The German World Cup winner joined Bayern Munich in 2011 after spending just one season with Manchester City, where he since gone on to make over 190 appearances for the Bundesliga outfit.

The 29-year-old’s last appearance for Bayern came in the last game of the Bundesliga season last term against Freiburg, where the defender was withdrawn from the action in the 32nd minute due to a thigh injury.

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Bayern Munich’s Left-Back Woes Continue as David Alaba Is Ruled Out of Action Indefinitely

?Bayern Munich’s squad has once again fallen victim to a run of injuries, with left-back David Alaba the latest member of Carlo Ancelotti’s side to be sidelined, the club have ?confirmed

25-year-old Alaba suffered an ankle injury in a challenge during Austria’s World Cup qualifier against Georgia on Tuesday and had to be substituted in the 38th minute. 

A subsequent examination in Munich on Wednesday confirmed the left-back will endure a stint on the sidelines, with many now worried it could be a lengthy spell.

Alaba’s injury is the latest selection headache for Ancelotti who is now without either off his natural left-back options, as Juan Bernat remains on the injury list as he continues to recover from ankle surgery.  

In better news for Bayern fans, Sebastian Rudy has been cleared of injury after he was taken off as a precaution in Germany’s thrashing of Norway on Monday. 

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The 27-year-old was deemed fit to join training with the club on Thursday, as Bayern gear up for their trip to face Hoffenheim on Saturday, where both clubs will be aiming to maintain their unbeaten start to their Bundesliga campaign.

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Bayern Munich Star Thomas Muller Contacted by Trio of Premier League Giants This Summer

Bayern Munich and Germany star Thomas Muller was reportedly contacted by a trio of Premier League giants this summer, as speculation was uncertain over his future at the Allianz Stadium. 

According to SportBild, via The Daily Star, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea all made enquiries to Bayern Munich regarding Muller’s availability. The attacker’s future was in doubt after a poor season in Germany where he scored only five goals.


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Bayern’s summer business, including the loan signing of Colombian playmaker James Rodriguez, plunged Muller’s future further into the dark but the club’s chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge rubbished any rumours that the 26-year-old could leave the club. 

Speaking back in July, Rumenigge said: “Thomas is still unsaleable because he fits perfectly with FC Bayern. There is no discussion about this.”

FC Bayern Muenchen Audi Summer Tour - Day 6

“But Thomas, as well as us, are in agreement in the evaluation of the last season: It was not a good one. But that is not a problem either.”

Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool were all in search of attackers this summer but signed Alexandre Lacazette, Alvaro Morata and Mohamed Salah respectively. 

Muller has played 78 minutes of the Bundesliga season so far, starting Bayern’s opener against Bayer Leverkusen before being demoted to a substitute cameo against Werder Bremen the following week. 

With Rodriguez currently sidelined through injury, the next few weeks will be key for Muller to regain his key status in the squad, or he risks becoming merely a back-up to the on-loan Real Madrid star. 

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