Hoffenheim vs Bayern München – Saturday 17:30 BT / 18:30 CET Rhein-Neckar Arena, Sinsheim Germany.
Hoffenheim vs Bayern München should provide one of the most entertaining matches of the still young Bundesliga season. Last year Julian Nagelsmann managed to surprise Bayern’s head coach Carlo Ancelotti by taking one point on the road and beating Bayern at home in Hoffenheim.
In both matches, Nagelsmann tactically outfoxed the Italian head coach, who at 58 is 28 years older than Hoffenheim’s bench boss. Whether Nagelsmann can repeat the trick remains to be seen. One of the key components for Hoffenheim’s victory over Bayern in last season’s Rückrunde was the absence of Germany’s national team captain Manuel Neuer. The German keeper acts like an extra defender at times making it difficult for opponents to find room and space behind Bayern’s defensive line.
Without him, however, Bayern can be vulnerable, especially as replacement keeper Sven Ulreich likes to stay within his box. Hoffenheim made good use of the extra space and were dangerous on countless occasions. The problem is that Neuer will be back for Bayern in this match, which means Nagelsmann will have to find a different solution on how to break down Bayern’s defensive line.
The answer could be the left-side of the pitch. Here David Alaba is a key player for Bayern München. The Austrian, however, sustained an injury in Austria’s 1-1 draw to Georgia on Tuesday and will be out indefinitely. He will likely be replaced by the Brazilian Rafinha, who does not quite have the pace and vision of the Austrian wing-back. With Ribéry unwilling to track back at times Hoffenheim could be given plenty of time and space to develop their attacking play on their right side.
It is therefore expected that Nagelsmann will start Mark Uth, who could use his speed and his left foot to exploit Bayern’s weakness. Uth has shown in the Champions League playoff matches against Liverpool that he can be devastating against a high pressing defensive line and Nagelsmann. The matchup on that side of the pitch could, therefore, become one of the most interesting in what will be a highly entertaining match on Saturday night in Sinsheim.
Hoffenheim vs Bayern München – Players to Watch:
Kerem Demirbay #10 – 1899 Hoffenheim
Kerem Demirbay is Hoffenheim’s transition player. Positioned between Hoffenheim’s back three and the two man attacking midfield Demirbay is in charge of quickly moving the ball forward from defence to attack. A typical playmaker Nagelsmann often moves Demirbay further back when playing against stronger opponents like it will be the case against Bayern on Saturday. Sitting deep Demirbay can use his speed and vision to move balls forward during a counter-attack. Nagelsmann is a firm believer in having his teams finish off attacking plays in less than ten seconds after gaining control of the ball from the opposition. This tactic is only possible thanks to midfielder Kerem Demirbay and will be crucial against a Bayern defensive line that has shown some vulnerability against fast and pressing attacking lines.
James Rodríguez #11 – Bayern München
Will he start or not? Colombia’s national team called up James Rodríguez for matchday 7 and 8 of CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying. The attacking midfielder sat out the first match, a 0-0 draw against Venezuela, but then played 90 minutes against Brazil on matchday 8. The game against Brazil was followed back home at the Säbener Straße, and there is a good chance that James will play against Hoffenheim despite the 15-hour flight from South America to Munich. The major question is now where? Ancelotti sees James as a typical number 10 or as an alternative to Ribery. The problem is that both Thomas Müller and Thiago are best playing behind Lewandowski—Müller’s absence from the starting eleven has already caused some consternation in the Bavarian capital. James could, therefore, feature on the left-wing, but he lacks the speed and the ability to backtrack, which could be a problem against an opponent like Hoffenheim.
Hoffenheim vs Bayern München – Match Stats
- It took Hoffenheim 17 games to beat Bayern München.
- Hoffenheim defeated Bayern 1-0 in the second half of last season.
- Niklas Süle and Sebastian Rudy will play their first game against their former club.
- Sebastian Rudy has the second most Bundesliga games (195) for Hoffenheim after Andreas Beck (216).
- Hoffenheim’s record against Bayern at home is W1 D3 L5
Prediction: Hoffenheim vs Bayern München 1-1
Hoffenheim vs Bayern München – Possible Lineups
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
Baumann – Nordtveit, Vogt, Hübner – Kaderabek, Zuber – Demirbay – Amiri, Rupp – Uth, Wagner
Coach: Julian Nagelsmann
Neuer – Kimmich, Süle, Hummels, Rafinha – Tolisso, Rudy – Robben, Müller, Ribery – Lewandowski
Coach: Carlo AncelottiManuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of 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 will be available in print soon. 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.