Bundesliga match preview: Bayern Munich v Hoffenheim

The Bundesliga returns from the winter break this weekend with Bayern hosting Hoffenheim at the Allianz Arena on Friday, but the occasion will be a highly emotive one coming as it does just days after the death of legend Franz Beckenbauer. Tributes have been pouring in for the Kaiser and the Bavarians will pay their own respects to the great man before the clash with Hoffenheim.

Bayern Munich will kick-off the weekend action by trying to close the gap on Bayer Leverkusen and put some early pressure on the current league leaders. They will be looking to maintain their near-perfect home record this season (only Leverkusen have taken a point from them in the league). 

Bayern still have a game in hand over the Werkself as a result of their match with Union being postponed due to snow. The arrival of Hoffenheim however will see the Rekordmeister on their toes with memories of last season’s 1-1 draw on matchday 28 still fresh and a 2-1 home loss in 2019 in the back of their minds. 

Manuel Neuer is set to play his 500th competitive game for Bayern, which would put him on a par with Bastian Schweinsteiger. In this millennium, only Thomas Müller (685) and Philipp Lahm (517) have played more competitive games for the club. 

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Their only real blip in the Hinrunde came with the 5-1 hammering they received at Eintracht Frankfurt, but aside from that it was largely business as usual for Bayern and with Harry Kane banging in the goals with incredible regularity, they will be hugely confident of starting the New Year in the way they intend to continue. 

Hoffenheim finished the Hinrunde in a respectable seventh place in the table, but with the third best away record in the Bundesliga. Pellegrino Matarazzo’s side picked up 16 points on their travels (five wins out of eight) compared to just eight won at the PreZero Arena.  

On a personal level Matarazzo hasn’t lost on his past three visits with two successive draws achieved while at Stuttgart and last season’s 1-1 draw as TSG coach. Only Otto Rehhagel (5), Thomas Schaaf and Jürgen Klopp (4 each) have had longer streaks without defeat at Bayern in the Bundesliga.

Team news:

Bayern Munich: 

File:FC Bayern München logo (2017).svg - Wikipedia

Kim Min-jae and Noussair Mazraoui are both away on international duty so Thomas Tuchel will be forced into a slight defensive change with Matthijs de Ligt coming in at centre back and Konrad Laimer at right back. Thomas Müller could be an alternative to Coman, but Serge Gnabry remains unavailable due to a muscle injury.  

Possible line-up: Neuer, Laimer, de Ligt, Upamecano, Davies, Kimmich, Goretzka, Musiala, Sané, Coman, Kane

Hoffenheim

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - Wikipedia

As well as the long-term injured Marco John and Mergim Berisha, Dennis Geiger and Bambasé Conte are still unavailable, but they were at least able to complete parts of the team training again. Diadie Samassékou is with the Mali national team at the Africa Cup of Nations. Kevin Vogt’s reported impending move to Union Berlin may mean coach Matarazzo has to replace him for Friday’s match.  

Possible line-up: Baumann, Kabak, Brooks, Vogt, Kaderabek, Stach, Skov, Prömel, Kramaric, Weghorst, Beier

What they’re saying:

Bayern Munich

Thomas Tuchel: “It feels like we’re ready. We’ve trained well. There was still some rust in Basel. We then stepped things up a bit. I’m very pleased and feel we’re absolutely ready. Everyone’s fighting for their place. The spirit is there and I’m optimistic for tomorrow.

“I’m expecting a back three/five. They’re very dynamic. We’ll be prepared for it. They have a lot of pace up front. They have a lot of different types of players, can play and are good on the counter. Our counter-pressing will be important.

“Besides Leverkusen, Stuttgart and Leipzig also have the chance to get on a run. We’ve got the chance on Friday to move closer to Leverkusen. We’ve got a very high level but still have room for improvement in the opposition half and in counter-pressing. I’ve got the impression that we’ve taken a step forward in the last week. We want to get on a bit of a run with the three home games. The goal is clear that we want to be champions.”

Hoffenheim

Pellegrino Matarazzo: “We are going to Munich with a healthy dose of respect, they are a top international team. We need a very good performance. If we can do that over 90 minutes, then of course we have a chance, we’ve already proven that in the past. We are going there with this claim.

“The break was good for everyone. I noticed with the boys that they hadn’t completely finished the games before Christmas. We wanted to channel this dissatisfaction properly. Our focus was on defensive behaviour so that we conceded fewer goals in the second half of the season.

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“We simply want more. If we got four points too few in the key phase before Christmas, then that will be a problem. When you reach your limit, you will be satisfied. But we didn’t score enough points. We just want to win games like the one against Darmstadt. We also want to keep a clean sheet more often, just one game without conceding a goal so far is not enough.”

Form:

Bayern Munich

20/12/23  VfL Wolfsburg (a) 1-2 W  (Bundesliga)

17/12/23  VfB Stuttgart (h) 3-0 W  (Bundesliga)

12/12/23  Manchester united (a) 0-1 W  (Champions League)

09/12/23  Eintracht Frankfurt (a) 5-1 L  (Bundesliga)

29/11/23  FC Copenhagen (h) 0-0 D  (Champions League)

Hoffenheim

19/12/23  Darmstadt (h) 3-3 D  (Bundesliga)

16/12/23  RB Leipzig (a) 3-1 L  (Bundesliga)

08/12/23  VfL Bochum (h) 3-1 W  (Bundesliga)

02/12/23  Borussia Mönchengladbach (a) 2-1 L  (Bundesliga)

26/11/23  Mainz (h) 1-1 D  (Bundesliga)

Last time:

The corresponding fixture at the Allianz Arena last season saw Hoffenheim emerge with a deserved point following a 1-1 draw on matchday 28. At the time dropping points was a costly business for the Rekordmeister with Borussia Dortmund making a concerted challenge for the Meisterschale

The hosts took a 17th minute lead through Benjamin Pavard, but a superbly executed free kick from Andrej Kramaric gave the Sinsheim club a share of the spoils and kept the title race very much open. 

Players to watch:

Bayern Munich

Harry Kane’s scoring exploits in the first half of the season saw him bag 21 goals in just 15 appearances. There is already talk of him possibly even beating Robert Lewandowski’s record haul of 41 goals in a single season, so a good start to the New Year would certainly put him in good stead. 

Hoffenheim

While not in the same league as Kane, Hoffenheim had their own striking hero to emerge in the Hinrunde with Maximilian Beier coming to the fore. 

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The signings of both Wout Weghorst and Mergim Berisha in the summer made his prospects look a little slim, but injury to Berisha and the fact that he has taken his chance when given, mean that he is currently one of the first names down on coach Pellegrino Matarazzo’s team sheet.

The 21-year-old has hit six goals thus far, provided five assists and is second only to Andrej Kramaric as the club’s best ranked player with regards Kicker’s player ratings. 

About Mathew Burt 1053 Articles
Former writer at Goal.com and JustFootball, I've been doing my thing for Bundesliga Fanatic since 2015. A long-suffering Werder Bremen fan and disciple of the Germanic holy trinity...Bier. Wurst und Fußball