Hoffenheim-Bayern Munich Preview: Champions could equal Bundesliga unbeaten record

Bayern Munich will look to equal a 30-year Bundesliga record when they travel to take on Hoffenheim on Saturday.

The reigning champions are on a 35-match unbeaten league run, dating back to October 28, 2012 when they lost 2-1 at home to Bayer Leverkusen.

And, if they avoid defeat at the weekend, leaders Bayern will equal the current record of 36 matches without losing, set by Hamburg between January 1982 and January 1983.

Pep Guardiola’s side could also break a 45-year club record for the longest undefeated start to a Bundesliga campaign.

The Bavarian giants are unbeaten after 10 league games this season and, if they extend that run on Saturday, they will better the previous record set by the team led by Branko Zebec in the 1968-69 season when they claimed their maiden Bundesliga title.

Bayern’s current vintage have won eight and drawn two of their 10 fixtures, dropping points only on visits to Leverkusen and Freiburg.

They also boast the meanest defence in the division having conceded just six goals so far, a record that will come under threat against a Hoffenheim side whose goal tally of 25 is the joint highest in the league with second-placed Borussia Dortmund.

Markus Gisdol’s side are currently ninth in the table having ended a four-game winless run with last week’s 4-1 thumping of Hannover.

But while scoring goals has proved Hoffenheim’s main strength, their defensive frailties have cost them so far this season with no clean sheets to their name and 23 goals conceded – the joint most in the Bundesliga alongside bottom club Eintracht Braunschweig.

Hoffenheim fans will argue that figure should be one fewer though, with Stefan Kiessling’s header in the 2-1 defeat to Leverkusen earlier in the month allowed to stand despite having passed through a hole in the side netting.

However, the club announced on Tuesday that they will not take legal action after their initial appeal to replay the fixture was denied.

In terms of injury news, Bayern’s Thiago Alcantara has returned to light training following an ankle injury but is unlikely to be considered, while striker Claudio Pizarro has been ruled out for four to six weeks after picking up a thigh injury.

Midfield duo Toni Kroos and Arjen Robben are both expected to be fit despite being withdrawn early in last week’s win over Hertha Berlin, when Javi Martinez made a substitute appearance after a two-month absence following groin surgery.

For Hoffenheim, Fabian Johnson and Jeremy Toljan are doubts with ankle and thigh problems respectively.

Guardiola's Barcelona the best ever, says Martino

The Argentine has voiced his admiration for the Barca team of 2010-11, but has stressed it is unrealistic to expect similar results and dominant football

Gerardo Martino says it would be unfair to compare the current Barcelona to previous squads as he feels the team coached by Pep Guardiola in 2010-11 was arguably the best the game has ever seen.

The current Bayern Munich coach, Guardiola, guided Barca to the domestic title as well as the Champions League and Club World Cup glory in 2011.

And even though Martino is keen to reach the same level, he believes it would be unrealistic to expect similar performances from the Blaugrana this season.

“I hope we can find our best form soon, but we shouldn’t always compare ourselves to past Barca teams,” Martino said at a press conference.

“As the coach I obviously would like to get closer to the form Barca had two years ago [under Guardiola], that was the best team in the history of the sport.

“However, there can’t be a best team in the history of football every year.”

Barcelona currently sit first in La Liga with 31 points from 11 games, while they also top their Champions League section with seven points from three encounters in Group H.

Neuer honoured at Ballon d'Or nomination

The German says he is proud to be the only goalkeeper on the 23-man shortlist for the 2013 award and revealed how Pep Guardiola wants Bayern Munich to “be the boss on the pitch”

Bayern Munich star Manuel Neuer says he is delighted at being the only goalkeeper nominated for the 2013 Ballon d’Or prize.

Neuer is one of six Bayern players to have made the 23-man shortlist for the latest Fifa award after their historic treble-winning campaign of 2012-13.

And the Germany No.1 was full of praise for former boss Jupp Heynckes for his part in the 27-year-old’s efforts in the past year.

“I’m honoured that I am the only keeper nominated and we all hope that someone in Bavaria wins the award,” he told Audi Star Talk.

“He [Heynckes] has a very good knowledge of human nature, he is a very good coach.”

Bayern have continued their indomitable form under new coach Pep Guardiola in the opening few months of their Bundesliga title defence, and Neuer is impressed with his side’s recent displays.

“We always want to have the ball,” said the former Schalke man. “He wants us to be the boss on the pitch, and we’ve done the job quite well so far.”

Bayern face free-scoring Hoffenheim on Saturday.

Robben: Guardiola has not changed Bayern

The 29-year-old is adamant that the Spaniard has not altered too much at the club since succeeding Jupp Heycnkes as coach during the summer

Bayern Munich star Arjen Robben has played down the impact coach Pep Guardiola has had at the Allianz Arena by claiming he has not changed much at the club.

The former Barcelona boss took the reins from treble-winning coach Jupp Heynckes at the Bavarians in the summer, guiding them to the summit of both the Bundesliga and Champions League Group D tables so far.

And, despite admitting that Guardiola has changed a “little bit” from his predecessor, Robben says that the Spaniard has not deviated too far from Heynckes’ blueprint for success.

The former Real Madrid winger told FAZ: “You don’t have to exaggerate everything. Of course, he’s changed a little bit, but he has not changed Bayern.”

The 29-year-old, who has started seven of the club’s 10 Bundesliga fixtures this season, was unhappy when benched by Heynckes last season but the Dutchman seems content to be denied starting berths under Guardiola.

“So far, we have had many injuries, so it’s good to have started to strong,” Robben said.

“But of course that will happen when everyone is so fit. I don’t think it’s that bad. Staying on the bench isn’t a problem.”

Robben, who turns 30 in January, went on to fire an ominous warning to Bundesliga defenders, claiming they should not expect him to be any less of a menace despite his advancing years.

He added: “I don’t have the feeling that I have to change my game because I won’t be as quick.

“I still have the feeling that I have two or three top years ahead of me. Especially with this team”

Dante resumes Bayern training

The Brazilian centre-back is set to make his comeback after a two-week absence, while Arjen Robben and Toni Kroos could feature against Hoffenheim, too

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola has received some encouraging news on the injury front as experienced defender Dante has resumed regular training after a brief spell on the sidelines due to injury.

The Brazil international, 30, picked up a foot injury in his side’s win over Mainz two weeks ago and has since been out of action.

Dante consequently missed the Bundesliga clash against Hertha Berlin and the Champions League match versus Viktoria Plzen, but he could be considered for selection against Hoffenheim at the weekend after resuming squad training on Wednesday.

The centre-back has developed into a key player at Bayern since joining them from Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer of 2012. He has made 15 appearances for FCB in all competitions so far this term.

Meanwhile, Arjen Robben and Toni Kroos are both in contention to feature against Hoffenheim, despite the pair being substituted early in the first half against Hertha with groin injuries.

Robben told the club’s official website: “It’s getting better day by day, but we will not take any risks.”