Bayern vs Hoffenheim – Friday, August 24, 19:30 BST/20:30 CEST – Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
The Bundesliga returns on Friday with champions Bayern München hosting last season’s third-placed team Hoffenheim at the Allianz Arena in what should be a game befitting to the start of the season.
Bayern are going into the season as the favourite to win the title once again. The Bavarian giants have won the Bundesliga the last six seasons in a row. Bayern were also dominant in their 5-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt at DFL Supercup.
New head coach Niko Kovac can, therefore, go with some confidence into the opening game. But there are some questions mark as Bayern look to win their seventh title in a row.
First and foremost how will Kovac handle coaching a big club for the first time in his career? Furthermore, what about the future of Frank Ribéry and Arjen Robben? Kovac is expected to phase out both over the course of the season replacing them with the younger Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman and Alphonso Davies, who will join the club in January from the Vancouver Whitecaps.
These are not the only question marks, however. Kovac will also have to manage the playing time of defender Jérôme Boateng, who could still leave the club this summer and has struggled with injuries the last few seasons. Finally, what about Robert Lewandowski? The Polish striker had a poor World Cup after outlining on several occasions that he wanted to leave Bayern this summer.
Officially, Lewandowski is once again committed and his three goals against Frankfurt in the Supercup show that he is a professional, who will always give everything on the field. At the same time, Lewandowski has renewed the contract with controversial player agent Pini Zahavi, which could mean that the topic of a potential transfer could once again come to a boil in the future.
An ageing squad some off-field problems there are some reasons to believe that other clubs could finally challenge Bayern this season. The mood among several teams in Germany is already that they will no longer travel to Munich to deliver three points to the Allianz Arena.
“We want to reach the maximum this season and the maximum in the league is to win the title”, Hoffenheim head coach Julian Nagelsmann declared a few weeks back. That statement was then underlined by Hoffenheim keeper Oliver Baumann, who told kicker this week: “the title is possible.”
“We always go into every game wanting to win. It is a realistic statement – not just a slogan. Because it is possible if we perform,” Baumann added.
It has been some time since Bundesliga fans witnessed aggressive statements about winning the title by anyone but Bayern’s coaches and players – whether Hoffenheim will, however, be able to challenge Bayern this season remains to be seen.
Everything is, however, possible in one game. Unfortunately for Hoffenheim head coach Julian Nagelsmann will have to make do without Nadiem Amiri, Benjamin Hübner, Kerem Demirbay, Lukas Rupp and Dennis Geiger.
A significant list of players and Demirbay, Rupp as well as Amiri are the heart of Hoffenheim’s creative midfield. Nagelsmann, however, is the master of improvisation and has shown in the past that he can come up with a competitive lineup despite injury problems.
Bayern vs Hoffenheim – Players to look out for:
Robert Lewandowski #9 – Bayern
Robert Lewandowski was on fire in the DFL Supercup final against Eintracht Frankfurt. The Polish forward scored three goals against Frankfurt and swiped away any doubts over his Bayern commitment. The 30-year-old loves scoring against Baumann (see below) and will once again be expected to lead the line for Bayern this season.
Joelinton #34 – Hoffenheim
Joelinton returned to Hoffenheim this summer after spending to seasons on loan in Austria. Playing for Rapid Wien Joelinton scored 15 goals in 60 Austrian Bundesliga matches. A physical strong forward Joelinton then impressed this summer during Hoffenheim’s preseason preparations and then scored three goals in Hoffenheim’s 6-1 DFB Pokal victory over Kaiserslautern. With Andrej Kramarić doubtful against Bayern the Brazilian forward will likely get to start once again.
Bayern vs Hoffenheim – Match Stats
- Since matchday 28 of last season, Bayern have only lost one match in the Bundesliga – against Stuttgart on matchday 34.
- Hoffenheim, in the meantime, have only lost one Bundesliga match since matchday 30, also against Stuttgart on matchday 33.
- Hoffenheim keeper Oliver Baumann has conceded 13 goals scored by Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski – no other striker scored more often against Baumann and no other keeper has conceded more goals by Lewandowski.
- Bayern’s record at home against Hoffenheim is W8 D2.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Bayern vs Hoffenheim – 2-2
Bayern vs Hoffenheim – Lineups
Neuer – Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels, Alaba – Müller, Javi Martínez, Thiago – Robben, Lewandowski, Ribéry
Head Coach: Niko Kovac
Baumann – Adams, Vogt, Bičakčic – Kaderabek, Schulz – Zuber, Grillitsch, Bittencourt – Joelinton, Szalai
Head Coach: Julian Nagelsmann
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.