A hurting Bayern Munich will be keen to get the good times rolling again when they take on TSG Hoffenheim at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

Bayern Munich will be keen to keep their spot at the top of the Bundesliga standings when they welcome TSG Hoffenheim to the Allianz Arena on Saturday night.

The German champions are coming off a horrible few days that has seen them struggle for good news both on and off the field. The 3-0 loss to Manchester City all but extinguishes their hope of a seventh European crown, while the bust-up between Sadio Mane and Leroy Sane provides an unrequited distraction.

Thomas Tuchel’s first four games in charge of Die Roten have been a mixed bag so far. While Bayern have won both of their Bundesliga clashes under his guidance, they were knocked out of the Cup by SC Freiburg and will need a monumental effort in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final clash vs Man City.

Only two points separate Bayern and Tuchel’s former side Borussia Dortmund in the race for the Bundesliga title. While the 4-2 win over Dortmund earlier this month puts Bayern in the driving seat, they will do well not to throw away the position of strength.

Hoffenheim come into the game on the back of three consecutive wins in the Bundesliga. This has seen them put a five-point gap between themselves and the relegation zone. Despite still going into the game as underdogs, one cannot but suppress a belief that Bayern might be there for the taking.

A win on Saturday will be just the second time that Die Kraichgauer will have come away from Bayern with three Bundesliga points to show for it. Doing so will not just blow the title race wide open again but also hand the visitors a shot in their arm in their effort to pull away from the relegation dogfight.

The decision to replace Julian Nagelsmann with Thomas Tuchel is yet to be a resounding success and the latter will be keen to avoid being put in front of a jury so early in his tenure. Anything less than a win and Tuchel could very well find himself on a slippery slope. The Hard Tackle takes a look at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.

Team News & Tactics

Bayern Munich

The German giants have regained the upper hand in the Bundesliga title defence but have otherwise shed their aura of invincibility in other competitions. The stunning 2-1 defeat at home to SC Freiburg in the DFB Pokal was only outcome by the meek surrender in Manchester.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting continues to recover from a knee injury and is unlikely to be risked on the night. The same goes for Matthijs de Ligt who picked up a minor ankle issue recently. Two players who are definitely ruled out are Manuel Neuer and Lucas Hernandez.

Former Liverpool man Sadio Mane is suspended after punching Leroy Sane in the face and will be unavailable for Saturday’s game. The latter was poor against Man City but could retain his spot for the weekend.

A 4-1-4-1 formation appears to be the flavour of the day with Yann Sommer starting in goal. He is likely to be protected by the back four of Joao Cancelo, Benjamin Pavard, Dayot Upamecano and Alphonso Davies.

Joshua Kimmich is likely to be deployed in his familiar anchoring role and can at times function as a deep-lying playmaker. His ability to shield the centre-backs should determine the freedom with which Cancelo and Davies can get forward.

Thomas Muller is likely to come back into the lineup and function alongside Jamal Musiala as attacking midfielders. Kingsley Coman and Leroy Sane should provide the width with Serge Gnabry leading the line.

The formation is freely flexible and can revert to a 4-3-3 or a 4-51 when needed. As long as Bayern keep their heads, it should prove to be a comfortable night out for the ten-time defending champions.

Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Sommer; Cancelo, Pavard, Upamecano, Davies; Kimmich; Coman, Musiala, Muller, Sane; Gnabry

TSG Hoffenheim

Die Kraichgauer are finally finding their feet under Pellegrino Matarazzo and have brought themselves some breathing space following a run of three straight league wins.

Facing a Bayern side, especially one that is hurting is no joke, means Matarazzo will need all of his cards to come out trumps on the night. However, Bayern’s soft underbelly has been apparent the last few games and they could be there for the taking should the visitors be brave.

They will be without Jacob Bruun Larsen and Justin Che. Munas Dabbur is suspended for the game following his sending-off against Hertha Berlin. To make matters worse, Grischa Promel and Robert Skov are also a doubt for the game as they are nursing minor niggles.

A 3-4-2-1 formation should be the flavour of the day for the visitors. Oliver Baumann should start in goal behind the back three of Kevin Vogt, John Brooks and Kevin Akpoguma. Pavel Kaderabek and Angelino should provide width on the wing while also dropping back to form a back five when needed.

Dennis Geiger and Finn Ole Becker should provide the control in the middle of the park with Andrej Kramaric and Christoph Baumgartner serving as dual number tens. Ihlas Bebou should lead the line and will be the focal point upfront.

Kramaric has been in good form of late and has scored three goals in his last three games and will be a key player for Bayern to pin down. Given Dayot Upamecano’s tendency to get caught out when under pressure, Hoffenheim will do well to apply pressure on the Bayern backline and force their hand.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Baumann; Vogt, Brooks, Akpoguma; Kaderabek, Geiger, Becker, Angelino; Kramaric, Baumgartner; Bebou

Key Stats

  • Bayern Munich have lost just once at home to Hoffenheim in their 14 previous meetings.
  • Bayern Munich averaged 3.1 goals at home in the Bundesliga vs Hoffenheim. Only against Mainz does Die Roten average better.
  • A win on the night will see Thomas Tuchel win his first three Bundesliga games in charge at the Allianz Arena. It is a feat that only Nico Kovac, Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti have managed in the past.
  • A win on the night will see Hoffenheim win four Bundesliga games for the first time since March 2022.
  • Bayern have scored 50 goals in the first half of the Bundesliga games this season. Scoring in the first half will see Bayern Munich equal or overtake their record (51 goals) for the most first-half goals over the course of a Bundesliga campaign.

Player to Watch

Dayot Upamecano

Dayot Upamecano needs to step up. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)

All eyes will be on the French international following the horror show against Manchester City. Upamecano is a good defender. But his inability to stay calm when put under pressure makes him a liability more often than not.

Hoffenheim have their tails up following a good run of form and will be itching to take the game to Bayern and their soft centre-back pairing. Kramaric and Baumgartner are likely to double-team Upamecano, giving Bebou space and time to get in behind. How well the home side’s backline holds up depends on Upamecano and his ability to remain calm.


Bayern Munich 1-1 TSG Hoffenheim

Bayern Munich go into the game as favourites. But Hoffenheim at this point in time are a tricky side to go up against. Thomas Tuchel will be keen to distract fans from the negative press surrounding his side and will want to get off to a strong start. The game is likely to be close, and it will not come as a surprise if both teams end up splitting the points.

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