Bayern Munich will seek to continue their perfect form in 2020 when they visit PreZero Arena to face TSG Hoffenheim on Saturday.
Bayern Munich have arguably been the best team in Europe in 2020 so far. The Bavarians have won all but one of their games in all competitions since the turn of the year, with their only failure coming against RB Leipzig in a 0-0 draw. Their excellent run of form has helped them regain their place at the top of the Bundesliga table while they are also coming on the back of a morale-boosting 3-0 win over Chelsea in midweek.
However, Bayern must maintain their consistency if they are to stay on top. In fact, any mishap against TSG Hoffenheim could allow RB Leipzig to regain their place at the top while Borussia Dortmund are also close, trailing the German champions by just four points.
However, Hoffenheim haven’t had the best of starts to the Ruckrunde. Since their narrow win over Bayer Leverkusen earlier this month, they have failed to secure a single win in the Bundesliga, notably slumping to narrow defeats at the hands of SC Freiburg and VfL Wolfsburg.
In fact, these two sides met earlier this year in the DFB Cup, where Hoffenheim were beaten 4-3 in a tightly fought encounter. The home side will be seeking revenge this time out. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their important encounter in the Bundesliga this weekend.
Tactics & Team News
Hoffenheim have a host of key players out injured including Sargis Adamyan. Strikers Munas Dabbur and Ishak Belfodil are also sidelined, meaning there will be a real shortage of attacking options for coach Alfred Schreuder in this fixture.
Andrej Kramaric is likely to spearhead the Hoffenheim attack, in the absence of Dabbur and Belfodil. The Croatian could be partnered by Robert Skov and Christoph Baumgartner. Both of these players are expected to operate centrally rather than drifting out wide.
That’s where the presence of Pavel Kaderabek and Steven Zuber could be important in the wide defensive positions. Hoffenheim have turned into a possession-based team under Schreuder so it will be interesting to see how these two operate on the far side.
Hoffenheim could play with three midfielders this weekend in the shape of Sebastian Rudy, Florian Grillitsch and Diadie Samassekou, thus forming the second line of press. The defence, meanwhile, could consist of the central defensive duo of Benjamin Hubner and Havard Nordtveit with Oliver Baumann playing in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-3-2-1): Baumann; Kaderabek, Nordtveit, Hubner, Zuber; Rudy, Grillitsch, Samassekou; Skov, Baumgartner; Kramaric
While Hoffenheim will miss out on Dabbur, Belfodil and Adamyan, Bayern Munich also faced a huge blow this week with the injury of Robert Lewandowski. The league’s top scorer is expected to remain out injured for a month, giving coach Hansi Flick a real headache.
Who will lead the attack in the absence of Lewandowski remains a mystery. However, Flick did confirm that Philippe Coutinho will feature this weekend, meaning we could expect Thomas Muller to operate in the number nine role, with Coutinho and Serge Gnabry playing in the wider attacking roles.
At the same time, Flick now has limited options in attack, with Kingsley Coman and Ivan Perisic out injured. Javi Martinez, too, is unlikely to feature this weekend, which means Bayern will continue with the trusted midfield trio of Thiago Alcantara, Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich.
In defence, Flick is unlikely to make any changes, with Jerome Boateng and David Alaba operating at the heart of the four-man backline. Alphonso Davies and Benjamin Pavard are also set to retain their roles as full-backs, with Manuel Neuer once again starting in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Neuer; Pavard, Boateng, Alaba, Davies; Thiago, Kimmich, Goretzka; Gnabry, Muller, Coutinho
- After winning the reverse fixture 2-1 on MD7, Hoffenheim have the chance to complete the league double over Bayern for the first time. They would be the first BL side to manage this since Gladbach and Dortmund in 2011/12 season.
- Bayern have lost three of their last six Bundesliga games against Hoffenheim. FCB were undefeated in their first 17 matches against TSG.
- Hoffenheim’s Sebastian Rudy will celebrate his 30th birthday the day before the match. FC Bayern will turn 120 years old two days prior to the game.
- Hoffenheim have taken just one point from their last three Bundesliga games and have lost four of their last seven at home.
- Hoffenheim’s Nordtveit has made 199 Bundesliga appearances to date. The game against Bayern could see him become the fourth Norwegian to reach 200 BL games (after Jorn Andersen, Rune Bratseth and Anders Giske).
Player to Watch
With Lewandowski out injured, all eyes will be on Muller as Bayern Munich look to continue their excellent run of form without their talismanic forward leading the charge.
Muller has enjoyed an amazing run of form under Flick. In fact, he has been a revelation this season, having scored five goals and registered 14 assists. That makes him one of the most productive players in the league.
This time, however, Muller’s ability to find the back of the net will be tested. It is something the German international has struggled with, over the past three years. And given Bayern’s lack of options going forward, Muller’s form could very well shape the fate of the Bavarians in this coming month.
TSG Hoffenheim 0-2 Bayern Munich
Despite the loss of Lewandowski, this could turn out to another stroll in the park for Bayern Munich. The Bavarians are just too good, especially with players like Muller and Thiago finding their old rhythm while Hoffenheim, as mentioned, are without their most important players. Hence, we expect the visitors to seal a comfortable win, though they may not be as prolific this time around.