Matchday 19 will see the clash between the league leaders Bayern Munich and relegation threatened TSG Hoffenheim, which will be very important for the visiting Seinsheim side as they look to climb out of the relegation zone, and also due to the fact that they have never won a match against Bayern in 15 outings.

Sit Back And Frustrate The Opposition Will Be Steven’s Game Plan:

Since taking over the reigns from Markus Gisdol, Huub Steven’s Hoffenheim have strategically picked up more points (eight points with 5 draws and 1 win) than they have scored goals (six goals in eight games) by playing it entirely safe and defending deep in their own half. The only ever adventurous outing they had was against Borussia Monchengladbach where they have been able to take the lead twice against the Foals in a thrilling 3-3 draw. Since the former Schalke coach has taken over, the team have improved at home but faced two defeats and a goalless draw when they were away. So they will once again look to sit back and soak the relentless pressure Bayern are likely to put on them rather than attack the mighty Bavarians.

Dominating The Ball, Scoring More Goals Will Be Pep’s Plan:

Since they are facing a relegation threatened team, we could probably see the possession stats reading more than 80% to Bayern’s as Pep Guardiola will look push his men into the opposition half to break the Hoffenheim defence. Since Jerome Boateng is injured, Pep might continue with the 3-5-2 system although with some shorter men at the back to squeeze out every bit of possession from the visitors. Although the last encounter had a dramatic opening with Kevin Volland’s record equalling first minute goal which made Guardiola to think once again, this time being at home and the opposition being far vulnerable, the Catalonian tactician will be determined to dominate the game from the minute go.

Key Battles:

Manuel Neuer V Nadiem Amiri(Set Pieces):

Although most of the attacking burden was being carried by Kevin Volland and Jonathan Schmid, Hoffenheim’s youth prospect Nadiem Amiri has impressed under Huub Stevens. His performance against Monchengladbach has been exceptional where he laid down two assists and scored the third goal in an entertaining 3-3 draw. His pin point set piece delivery will keep Manuel Neuer guessing as he had already showcased his skills with his corner kicks in recent matches against Hannover

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Kevin Volland V Philipp Lahm:

 

With Jerome Boateng sidelined for many weeks, Philipp Lahm will  mostly have to fill in for the towering centre back to come up against Hoffenheim’s top scorer Kevin Volland who has scored the fastest goal in Bundesliga history last they their sides faced each other. Though it would be difficult for Volland to out think his former international teammate, some able support from his attacking partners on the break could put him through towards Bayern goal.

 

Fabian Schar V Robert Lewandowski:

 

Hoffenheim’s defence will have a lot on their plate with the star studded Bayern attack coming at them but Fabian Schar will have to handle the biggest responsibility marking Robert Lewandowski. With stiff competition for the Golden Cannon this season, the Poland international will be motivated to score as many as he can against Hoffenheim and it will be interesting if Schar & Co. have a plan to stop him.

 

TSG Hoffenheim

Strengths:

  • Even though their first priority is to survive the fall which as a result has limited them from going on attacks, Hoffenheim have been sharp at taking the chances they are presented with. This could come in handy for the visitors if Bayern become too obsessed with attacking and present Hoffenheim with a small chance.
  • Set pieces could come in handy for Hoffenheim if they could manage to win a free kick or corner infront of Bayern’s goal given the champions’ vulnerability to defend set pieces for quite a time.

 

Weakness:

  • In their current situation, limitations to experiment with any of their attacking resources is one of Hoffeheim’s greatest disadvantages going into the match as any tiny margin of error could lead to a whipping at the hands of Bayern.
  • Even though they might put 11 men behind the ball, Bayern’s all star line up could prove too much for Hoffenheim.

 

Bayern Munich

Strengths:

  • 100% home record this season in the Bundesliga will be one of the favorable factors alongside their formidable attack which consists of Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski, Douglas Costa, Kingsley Coman, Thiago, Arjen Robben.
  • Bayern have already seen through some tough fixtures where they have to dig deep for points will once again come in handy against Hoffenheim who will happy defending. Robert Lewandowski will be once again be they key to unlock the visitors’ defence.

 

Weakness:

  • There arent many weaknesses for Bayern against Bundesliga sides but they sometimes leave gaps at the back as they try to pin the oppositions in their own half and one unexpected long ball could put them danger.
  • Absence of Jerome Boateng is a blow for Bayern as they will have to defend with a make shift backline and Manuel Neuer will have to do some extra reading of the game.

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