Hoffenheim 1-3 Bayern Munich: Report, Ratings and Reaction as Kovac’s Men Close Gap on Dortmund

Bayern Munich went within three points of the top of the Bundesliga on Friday night as they made a winning start to 2019.
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??Munich dominated the opening stages and enjoyed the majority of the possession. The Munich wingers were given acres of space throughout the game as Bayern went on attack after attack, but failed to capitalize on these early chances.
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?A 
goal eventually came for the Bavarians. Kingsley Coman’s cross met the head of Robert Lewandowski – who should have scored, only for Oliver Baumann to make a good initial save before Leon Goretzka reacted quickest to the loose ball and blasted home the opener from a tight angle.

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?Bayern’s lead was doubled when they countered from a Hoffenheim corner kick. Coman was sent bombing down the wing, and the Frenchman’s cross found Goretzka to poke the ball around Baumann to claim his and Bayern’s second of the game.
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?Hoffenheim were allowed back into the game at the start of the second half. Shortly after an early double substitution, the home side went on a counter attack and Leonardo Bittencourt’s chipped ball forward was met by Nico Schulz, who expertly found the bottom left hand corner.

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?The home side continued to grow into the game and were denied an equaliser from an exceptional save from ?Manuel Neuer; the German quickly diving to his bottom left corner to get a important hand on a Joelinton header.

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?Robert Lewandowski had a poor night by all accounts but eventually manged to do what he does best, tapping home a ?Thomas Müller cross late in the game to kill off Hoffenheim’s chances of an equaliser.


Hoffenheim 
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Player Ratings 
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Starting XI: Baumann (8), Kaderabek (6), Hübner (6), Vogt (6) Posch (6), Schulz (8), Bittencourt (8*), Demirbay (5), Kramaric (7), Joelinton (7), Belfodil (6).
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Substitutions: Geiger (6), Grillitsch (6), Szalai (5).


Bayern Munich 
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?Key Talking Point
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Bayern won the match in the first half and looked incredibly comfortable throughout. The Bavarians were effective in their use of the massive spaces left in the wide areas, and created numerous first half chances.

Joshua Kimmich and Coman controlled both wings, while Hoffenheim’s defence struggled with the forward players all afternoon. Goretzka and Müller were able to create the chances for Bayern and late substitute ?James Rodriguez added to that.

Leon Goretzka


?Player Ratings 
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?Starting XI: Neuer (7), Kimmich (7), Süle (6), Hummels (6), Alaba (7), Martinez (6), Thiago (6), Goretzka (9*), Coman (7), Müller (7), Lewandowski (7).
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?Substitutions: Gnabry(6), Rodriguez (7), Boateng (N/A)


Star Man 
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?Leon Goretzka scored a brace and put in the game’s stand out performance as Bayern dominated. The young German has now scored four goals this season – starting to bring back a part of his game which didn’t make a smooth transtition with him when he moved from ?Schalke.

?Worst Player
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Thiago drifted in and out of the game, and struggled to stand out in a dominating first half performance. His replacement James Rodriguez had more effect on the game in his scant time on the pitch at the end of the match. 


Looking Ahead
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Hoffenheim travel to SC Freiburg next Saturday hoping to get back to winning ways in the ?Bundesliga. Bayern host struggling Stuttgart at the Allianz Arena on the Sunday as they try to close in on Dortmund at the top of the table.

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90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings: Mid-Season Special

Following a six month period in which:

– Maurizio Sarri ate approximately 1,000,000,000,000,000 cigarettes. 

– Lionel Messi was referred to as the ‘G.O.A.T.’ approximately 1,000,000,000,000,000 times. 

– Liverpool fans said that it #MeansMore approximately 1,000,000,000,000,000 times. 

We at 90min, with the help of the filmography of George Roy Hill, have ranked the top 15 teams in Europe this season (so far):

15. PSV Eindhoven

Hirving Lozano

“The scouts said they showed a lot of promise.” (Slap Shot)

Along with having quite possibly the nicest kit in Europe this season (everyone loves a good candystripe kit), PSV Eindhoven have been near unstoppable* in the Eredisivie. 

Sitting at the top of their league table, having won 16 of their 17 league games thus far – it turns out that – in spite of their poor UCL performance this season – PSV are good. Really, really good. 

*They lost one game…hence the ‘near’.

14. Manchester United

Paul Pogba

“Thank God for that. For a moment there I thought we were in trouble.” (Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid)

Had this article been written just before Christmas, it’s pretty fair to say that Man Utd wouldn’t have made the cut. In truth, they’d have been one of the last teams that would’ve even been considered for a list of ‘top [anything]’….except maybe an article on ‘Top 10 Football Jerseys That Football Fans Can’t Pull Off’ (that fade into black around the hem does not go well with a pair of denim jeans). 

Since the justifiable sacking of a rather mopey Jose Mourinho, and no longer shackled by his much derided 1-10-0-0 formation, things have finally started to turn around for the Red Devils. 

– Six wins from six. 

– Paul Pogba proving he is the best player in the Premier League. 

– Marcus Rashford scoring goals. 

– Marouane Fellaini on the bench.

New year, new Man Utd. 

13. Sevilla

Munir,Quincy Promes,Wissam Ben Yedder

“Expecting somebody else?” (Toys in the Attic) 

Six months ago, if you were asked which three Spanish teams would make it into 90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings Mid-Season Special, your answer would like have been: 

‘What the hell is 90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings?’ 

And then: 

‘Real Madrid, Barcelona & Atletico Madrid’. 

However, a six month period in which Real Madrid devolved into an incredibly bad football team has led to Sevilla taking up the mantle of being one of Spain’s representatives in 90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings Mid-Season Special.

Sitting third in La Liga – having already beaten Real Madrid 3-0 earlier this season – Sevilla have enjoyed a fruitful first half of the 2018/19 season, and will be hoping for more of the same in the coming months. 

12. Chelsea

Eden Hazard

“I have become unstuck in time.” (Slaughterhouse-five) 

Chelsea started their 2018/19 campaign like a house on fire (in a good way). Scoring goals for fun, eating cigarettes for fun, winning games for – you guessed it – fun.

However, in recent weeks the wheels have started to come off a bit. Disappointing results at home to Leicester City and Southampton have seen Maurizio Sarri’s men drop of the title race and into the top four race.

With Gonzalo Higuain set to join the club on loan until the end of the season however, Chelsea fans can be optimistic that some of the Blues’ recent results were more of a blip than an indictment. 

11. Bayern Munich

Niko Kovac

“This ain’t a bridge. It’s termites holding hands.” (Funny Farm) 

Ok, ok, maybe the above quote from Funny Farm is a bit harsh as Niko Kovac did, to his credit, turned things around a bit in December. 

But there was a lengthy in which the above quote was worryingly apt. 

Put simply, at the start of the season, Niko Kovac did not seem capable of leading the new generation of players at Bayern. Rather than a ‘bridge’ to a promising future, Kovac was more akin to ‘termites holding hands’. 

The former Croatia international will be hoping that 2019 will be a different story. And judging by the improved form of Serge Gnabry, the arrival of Alphonso Davies and possible arrival of Callum Hudson-Odoi, there are certainly reasons to believe it could be.

10. SSC Napoli

Lorenzo Insigne,Arkadiusz Milik

“It’s not enough…but it’s close.” (The Sting) 

SSC Napoli are really, really good. They’ve won 14 of their 19 Serie A games, scoring 37 goals and conceding a measly 17; which is all very impressive.

The problem, however, is that the team above Napoli in Serie A have won 17 of their 19 Serie A games, scored 38 goals and conceded 11; which is, well, more impressive. 

9. Ajax

Dutch Eredivisie'Ajax v De Graafschap'

“You know, when I was a kid, I always thought I’d grow up to be a hero.” (Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid)

Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt are probably two names you’ve grown tired of hearing over the past three or four months – as they have been linked with every football team in existence (except Derry City, but a man can still dream). 

Truthfully though, they deserve to be talked about. Ajax have been a breath of fresh air in the Champions League this year, finally qualifying for the round of 16 for the first time in, well, absolutely ages*, and are locked in an enthralling Eredivisie title race with our 15th ranked team PSV Eindhoven. 

De Jong, de Ligt et al. have set themselves up for a remarkable 2019. 

Believe the hype. 

*2006, don’t worry I did the research. 

8. Tottenham Hotspur

Harry Kane,Dele Alli

“A pleasant way to spend eternity is to ignore the bad times and concentrate on the good.” (Slaughterhouse-five)

Harry Kane may be injured, Mousa Dembele may have just left the club, Heung-min Son may have just left for a month of international duty, and the ‘new’ White Hart Lane may never open; but Tottenham fans, it’s not all doom and gloom. 

Your beloved Lilywhites are third in the Premier League, through to the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League, through to the fourth round of the FA Cup and seemingly set for the EFL Cup final. 

Despite the myriad of problems Spurs have run in to over the past week, just remember to concentrate on the good. There’s a lot of it. 

7. Atletico Madrid

Antoine Griezmann

“All you men understand is violence.” (The World According to Garp)

No matter how many technically gifted players Atletico Madrid sign, they’ll never change tact. 1-0 will seemingly always be their scoreline of choice.

And it’s admirable, mainly because it works. 

Atleti are currently where they should be: second in La Liga and through to the knockout rounds of the UEFA Champions League. However it’s clear that, after spending a copious amount during the summer transfer window, 2019 will need to be the year they finally go above and beyond expectations and finally – FINALLY – win the UCL. 

6. Manchester City

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“I got vision and the rest of the world wears bi-focals.” (Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid) 

Man City have by no means endured had a poor first half of their 2018/19 season…just a slightly below par one. 

The Citizens (yes that is the worst nickname in English football) sit second in the Premier League table, four points behind Liverpool, having already lost more games this season than the entirety of their 2017/18 campaign.

To have any hope of catching Liverpool AND winning the UEFA Champions League this year, Guardiola’s men will need to find another gear; and fast. 

5. Paris Saint-Germain

TOPSHOT-FBL-EUR-C1-BELGRADE-PSG

“You may be the biggest thing that ever hit this area.” (Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid) 

Played: 18

Won: 16

Drawn: 2 

Lost: 0

Goals Scored: 53

Goals Conceded: 10

Goal Difference: 43

Points: 50

It’s fair to say that Paris Saint-Germain have probably already won Ligue 1, so the second half of their season will be wholly defined by the UEFA Champions League. 

Can they win it? With talent like Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, it’s hard to see why they can’t. 

4. Liverpool

Mohamed Salah,Jordan Henderson

“Small price to pay for beauty.” (Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid) 

“THERE ISN’T THREE TEAMS BETTER THAN LIVERPOOL WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!”

“WE’RE THE BEST TEAM IN THE WORLD BECAUSE IT #MeansMore!!”

“WE HAVE THE BEST GOALKEEPER, BEST DEFENDER, BEST MIDFIELDER & BEST FORWARD IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND SO WE SHOULD BE NUMBER ONE IN 90MIN’S DEFINITIVE EUROPEAN POWER RANKINGS MID-SEASON REVIEW!!!”

In the summer of 2018 Liverpool spent a stupendous amount of money. A ludicrous amount of money. And it was spent to build a team finally capable of winning the Premier League title. 

So far, the summer’s massive monetary outlet has (excuse the pun) paid off. The Reds currently sit atop of the league table, four points ahead of their nearest rival. 

They can’t let it slip now…can they? 

3. Barcelona

FBL-ESP-LIGA-GETAFE-BARCELONA

“You’re perfectly marvellous!” (Thoroughly Modern Millie)  

We may all be fed up seeing a constant stream of “you won’t BELIEVE what Messi just did! He’s the GOAT!!!!!!!!!” Tweets clogging up all of our respective Twitter timelines, but it’s hard to deny it, Lionel Messi has been incredible this season.

He is the sole reason Barcelona find themselves where they are heading into the second half of the season: top of La Liga, in the Copa del Rey quarter finals, in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 and – most importantly – third in 90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings Mid-Season Special. 

2. Borussia Dortmund

Paco Alcacer,Jadon Malik Sancho,Marco Reus

“You’re a modern!” (Thoroughly Modern Millie) 

Undoubtedly the surprise package of the season.

Borussia Dortmund have been THE team to watch in Europe so far this season (even though they’re second in this list), and are, quite frankly, can’t miss television week in, week out. 

If they can continue their pre-Christmas form into 2019, BVB fans may be bore witness to the best season in their club’s history. 

1. Juventus

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“Ok guys. Show us what you got.” (Slap Shot) 

This is it. It has to be. I mean, look at that team. It’s incredible. 

This has to be the year in which Juventus FINALLY lift the UEFA Champions League trophy. 

Everything is in place to do so. They are, without doubt, the best team in Europe heading into the second half of the 2018/19 season, and they are managed by arguably the best manager in Europe. 

This. Has. To. Be. It. 

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Atletico Madrid ‘Reach Agreement’ With Alex Telles as Bayern Remain Keen on Lucas Hernandez

?Atletico Madrid have reportedly reached an agreement with Porto defender Alex Telles, and will soon open negotiations with the club to try and agree a fee. 

The 26-year-old has excelled in his three years in Portugal, establishing himself as one of the world’s most exciting left-backs. The position has been the subject of much debate at Atletico, with Lucas Hernandez heavily linked with a move to Bayern Munich, whilst Filipe Luis finds himself out of contract at the end of the season.

Alex Telles

News of the agreement between ?Atletico and Telles comes from Portuguese outlet ?A Bola, who state that Telles’ representatives recently travelled to Madrid to negotiate a deal. 

The two parties have reportedly agreed on a salary and the duration of a potential contract, and Atletico must now negotiate a transfer fee with Porto.

The Brazilian is under contract until 2021 and has a release clause of €40m, although Atletico are reluctant to pay such a fee. Instead, they are hoping to negotiate a reduction in the fee, given that Telles is keen on making the move.

Alex Telles,Hector Herrera,Felipe,Andre Pereira

Porto have always proven to be willing to part with their stars as long as they receive a satisfactory offer, with the likes of ?James Rodriguez, Radamel Falcao and Jackson Martinez all leaving the Estadio do Dragao in recent years.

Telles has been linked with several of Europe’s top sides in the past. The likes of ?Chelsea, ?Real Madrid and ?Juventus have all been interested in the defender, but it appears as though Atletico have moved ahead in the race for his signature.

Manager Diego Simeone is thought to be incredibly keen on signing Telles, given the uncertainty surrounding the futures of both Lucas and Luis. 

Lucas Hernandez

In late 2018, there were rumours of an €85m bid from ?Bayern for Lucas Hernandez, and Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic confirmed to ?Bild that they remain interested in the Frenchman.

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Chelsea ‘Angered’ as Bayern Munich Sporting Director Comments on Callum Hudson-Odoi Pursuit

?Chelsea have been left angered by Bayern Munich after the German club’s sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic publicly admitted the club’s desire to sign Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Having already gone public in his admiration for Hudson-Odoi, Salihamidzic once again spoke to the media about his club’s ?determination to sign the winger. The Blues have reportedly received four bids from Bayern for Hudson-Odoi, the latest of which is said to stand at around £35m.

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News of ?Chelsea’s frustrations comes from the ?Evening Standard, who state that Maurizio Sarri’s side feel as though Salihamidzic is being unprofessional in his approach for Hudson-Odoi.

They suspect that ?Bayern have been illegally approaching Hudson-Odoi, but are yet to submit an official complaint to FIFA as they lack proof of Bayern’s activities.

After Salihamidzic’s first comments on Hudson-Odoi, Sarri accused Bayern of lacking respect. He said: “I think it’s not professional, because they are talking about a player under contract with Chelsea. So they didn’t respect our club.”

The youngster has just 18 months remaining on his current deal, and Chelsea remain desperate to convince the 18-year-old to renew his contract at the club. They hope to offer Hudson-Odoi regular game time between now and the end of the season, in the belief that that could persuade Hudson-Odoi to sign.

He is widely viewed as one of the club’s most exciting young prospects in recent years, and many fans have pleaded with Sarri to afford the winger more game time. However, he is yet to start a ?Premier League match and has seen just 51 minutes of action in the competition.

Callum Hudson-Odoi

According to the Evening Standard, Hudson-Odoi’s post read: “Don’t always believe what you hear.” It has since been deleted, but it has been speculated that this post was in response to the rumours of a transfer request.

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Sporting Director Suggests Bayern Could Sign James Rodriguez Permanently Amid Links to Arsenal

?Bayern Munich sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has dismissed reports linking on-loan midfielder James Rodriguez with a move to Arsenal.

Rodriguez is in the final six months of a two-year loan deal from Real Madrid, but has fallen out of favour under new manager Niko Kovac. Reports emerged recently suggesting that Bayern were keen to terminate Rodriguez’s deal and allow Arsenal to secure a six-month loan deal.

James Rodriguez

However, in an interview with Bild (via ?Metro), Salihamidzic insisted that ?Bayern will use the last six months of the season to decide whether they want to sign ?Rodriguez permanently or not.

He said: “We will look at the second half of the season and we will draw the right conclusions.”

Salihamidzic then rejected claims that Bayern could look to sign Rodriguez and instantly sell him on for a profit, saying: “This is not Bayern’s style. 

“If we decide to sign a player, then he also remains a part of Bayern.”

?Arsenal are thought to only be able to pursue loan deals this winter, as a lack of transfer funds has left them struggling to add to their squad. With midfielder ?Aaron Ramsey set to join ?Juventus on a free transfer at the end of the season, Arsenal would need to sell another player before reinvesting those funds.

Mesut Ozil

?Mesut Ozil is one of the players who has been heavily linked with an exit from the club. The 30-year-old has reportedly fallen out of favour under Unai Emery, and has been linked with a move to the likes of ?Inter and Juventus, and it is thought that Arsenal are keen to arrange a permanent deal for the German.

He has missed several games this season due to injury, although there has been much speculation that clashes between Ozil and Emery are to blame for the former’s absence from the matchday squad.

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