TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
August 22, 2015 – 15:30 CEST
The 2015-2016 Bundesliga season kicked off in fine fashion on August 15th and the results from the first round have been interesting, giving indications to things that might follow. It was no surprise as the opening match of the new season saw title favourites Bayern Munich thrashing long-time Bundesliga survivors Hamburg SV.
But their opponents on Saturday – TSG Hoffenheim – started their season with a defeat at the hands of Bayern Leverkusen at the BayArena. On Saturday, they will be hosting the champions in WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena, as they look forward to upset the holders for the first time in their history.
Team News & Tactical Brief
Markus Gisdola s men finished 8th last season missing out on European football for the second time in a row, which according to Gisdol was a result of their inability to win two games in a row for the whole season. The Sinsheimers started the season badly as they lost out to 1860 Munich in the first round of the DFB Pokal and then lost to Roger Schmidta s Bayer Leverkusen on Matchday 1.
The high profile departures of Roberto Firmino to Liverpool and striker Anthony Modeste to FC Koln made Hoffenheima s finishing a problem in the final-third. Veteran right-back and long-serving captain Andreas Beck also left for Besiktas, which means new skipper Pirmin Schwegler has added responsibilities in the middle of the park. New arrivals Mark Uth and Jonathan Schmid are yet to settle down in the attack, and star man Kevin Volland is still not at a 100 percent, which makes scoring against Pep Guardiolaa s side a challenge.
Despite their defeat against 1860 Munich in the Pokal, Hoffenheim were the better side for most of the match against Leverkusen as they pressed the opposition in their own half. This strategy could prove counter productive against Bayern Munich as the Bavarians are the ones that pin their opposition down in their own half. They can also easily break away with the pace of Arjen Robben and Douglas Costa on the wings.
Hoffenheim have never managed to win against Bayern during their 8 seasons in the top flight, but they need to put in a disciplined performance if they wish to give Guardiola an early shock in the season. A genuine area where they can hurt Bayern is set-pieces, and veteran forward Kevin Kuranyi can be another vital presence in the box in such situations.
Probable Line-ups: (4-1-2-3): Oliver Baumann; Jin-Su Kim, Niklas Sule, Fabian Schar, Pavel Kaderabek ; Pirmin Schwegler ; Jonathan Schmid, Eugen Polanski ; Kevin Volland, Steven Zuber, Kevin Kuranyi
Pep Guardiola lost to Dieter Heckinga s Wolfsburg in the German Super Cup but the Bavarians opened their Cup and Bundesliga accounts in fine fashion with wins over Nottingen and Hamburg respectively. Germanya s record champions might feel the absence of Bastian Schweinsteiger in the dressing room – a legendary figure at the club – but Pep Guardiola has made sure that his qualities as a midfielder are not missed on the pitch by landing Arturo Vidal from Juventus.
The competition for the midfield places at Bayern Munich remains heavy despite Schweinsteigera s departure with Xabi Alonso, Thiago, Vidal, David Alaba and youngster Joshua Kimmich competing for the central midfield positions . Philipp Lahm has moved back to his favored right back position but was moved in to occupy the central pivot late into matches in all pre-season games and in the Super Cup as well .
David Alaba might have also moved back into his usual left back position but Guardiola will look to include last seasona s regular Juan Bernat if there is a chance to move Alaba to midfield. Jerome Boateng and Mehdi Benatia will most probably feature in the heart of the Bayern Munich defence, with Lahm and Alaba flanking the pair on either side.
The Bayern Munich attack looks the most exciting this season as summer signing Douglas Costa has impressed playing on both wings as well as partnering Robben on the flanks. Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowskia s partnership has also flourished over last season as their link up play in the final third has been a joy to watch. The two will look to link up one again against Hoffenheim.
Probable Line-ups (4-1-4-1): Neuer ; Lahm, Boateng, Benatia, Alaba ; Alonso ; Douglas Costa, Muller, Vidal, Robben ; Lewandowski
Players to watch out for:
A Bundesliga winner with Stuttgart in 2007, Kevin Kuranyi has featured for Vfb Stuttgart and Schalke making 261 Bundesliga appearances in total. The former Germany international then spent five years in Russia playing for Dinamo Moskva. The 33-year old returned to his usual surroundings, where he has scored an impressive 111 goals for Stuttgart and Schalke combined.
The forward has a great heading ability as 43 out of his 111 Bundesliga goals have been headers. With Jonathan Schmid having the ability to whip accurate balls from dead ball positions, Bayerna s defenders should closely mark Kuranyi to cut out the aerial threat. Eugen Polanski has also the knack of providing good crosses into the box which Kuranyi will look to take advantage of.
With his pace, dribbling and shooting abilities it is no surprise that the Brazilian has grabbed headlines during a fruitful pre-season for Bayern Munich. The former Shakhtar Donetsk winger is capable of playing on both the wings and has impressed many with his work rate down the flanks.
His assist to Thomas Muller against Hamburg was one of the examples of his talents as he used his electric pace to collect a wayward pass from Mario Goetze and curled an exquisite cross from the out side of his boot for Muller to head home. His link up play with Alaba on the left will only improve as the season passes but will be enough to give a headache for Hoffenheima s defenders.
Bayern Munich 3 – 0 TSG Hoffenheim
Considering the unbeaten record Bayern Munich against Hoffenheim in 14 outings, they are the clear favorites going into this tie. Hoffenheima s displays have been impressive but lacking the edge to finish inside the box counts against them. On the other hand, Bayern have an intimidating strike force in the form of Arjen Robben, Douglas Costa, Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski. As such, more than one goal from the Bavarians is likely. It would be interesting to see how Markus Gisdola s men react to Bayerna s approach, which is heavily based on monopolizing ball possession.
Blast From The Past
Hoffenheim have drawn Bayern 4 times in their history, but nothing was as remarkable as the 3-3 draw at the Allianz Arena two seasons ago. Pep Guardiolaa s men wrapped up the quickest Bundesliga title in the history and were scoring goals for fun. But their fortunes took turn at this juncture when Hoffenheim visited Bayern Munich in late March of 2014. Anthony Modeste raced past the high-line defence employed by Guardiola to squeeze a rebound past Tom Starke to give the visitors a shocking lead.
Bayern were up for it as they equalized through Claudio Pizzaroa s header. The champions them went on to score two more through Xherdan Shaqiri and Pizzaro taking a comfortable 3-1 lead at half-time. In the second half, the home side switched off as Sejad Halilovic scored a brilliant free kick and Roberto Firmino added another goal to bring Bayern back to their senses. The Bavarians then huffed and puffed but couldnt find the winning goal and Firmino fluffed a great chance at the end which woulda ve been their first victory against Die Roten.