MX23RW : Sunday, March 1 05:44:54| >> :600:12903766:12903766:
Oct 5, 2019 at 2.30pm UK at ​Allianz Arena (München)
Attendance: 75,000
BayernBayern Munich
FT(HT: 0-0)
Adamyan (54', 79')

Preview: Bayern Munich vs. Hoffenheim - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Bundesliga clash between Bayern Munich and Hoffenheim, including team news, predictions and predicted lineups.

Bayern Munich will look to maintain their grip on top spot in the Bundesliga table when they take on Hoffenheim at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

Niko Kovac's side stunned the watching world during the week by recording an astonishing 7-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League on Tuesday night, and will now be expected to maintain that level of ruthlessness going forward when they return to domestic action this weekend.

Match preview

Bayern Munich manager Niko Kovac pictured on September 14, 2019© Reuters

Despite winning the Bundesliga title for seven years in a row, there has been a growing feeling that the standards of this Bayern team had gradually dropped since the club secured a famous treble during the 2012-13 season, with stalwarts such as Philipp Lahm, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery all coming to the end of their careers.

That is why the victory in North London felt like so much more than claiming three points; it was the affirmation of a new generation of players who look capable of handling the dual task of leading the Bundesliga and dominating the European stage.

Nobody embodies this fresh groundswell of talent better than Serge Gnabry, once a reject from both Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion and now one of Bayern's most exciting young players, with the 24-year-old scoring four times in the second half against Mauricio Pochettino's side - each goal serving as a model of what clinical finishing looks like.

Keeping in line with modern tactical methods, Kovac has endorsed a system emphasising fast counter-pressing and winning turnovers in the middle third as a means of getting the likes of Gnabry, Philippe Coutinho and Kingsley Coman onto the ball at pace, which becomes seriously effective when, like on Tuesday, their opponents give away possession cheaply.

This style of play contrasts with the approaches of predecessors such as Carlo Ancelotti and Jupp Heynckes, who both advocated a more zonal approach based on how to most effectively use possession, but Kovac's methods - following a mixed first season - are starting to bear fruit, with Bayern claiming 14 points from a possible 18 so far this term.

Hoffenheim forward Joelinton pictured in December 2018© Reuters

While Bayern appear to have reached a new phase of their evolution under Kovac since August, Hoffenheim entered this season with the feeling that they were having to start all over again.

Indeed, Saturday's visitors suffered a double blow over the summer, losing manager Julian Nagelsmann, who joined RB Leipzig, and key striker Joelinton, with the Brazilian moving to Newcastle United for almost £40m.

Moreover, key trio Kerem Demirbay, Nico Schulz and Nadiem Amiri all left to join other Bundesliga clubs for a combined total of £59.8m, adding to the feeling that Hoffenheim, having seen a solid squad develop over a few years, were now being dismembered by richer clubs in German football.

Perhaps the biggest loss is Nagelsmann, who helped to reformulate Hoffenheim's playing style, taking them to the Champions League through finishing in third spot during the 2017-18 season. Supporters must feel dejected at seeing their former manager now overseeing another successful revolution at Leipzig, with the latter currently just one point behind Bayern in the table.

Under new boss Alfred Schreuder, who worked alongside Nagelsmann at Hoffenheim and was on the coaching staff at Ajax last season, Bayern's opponents on Saturday are struggling for results and momentum, winning just once so far this term and suffering consecutive 3-0 defeats at home, making this trip to face a Bayern side which has scored 17 goals in four games an especially poorly timed one.

Recent Bayern Munich form: WDWWWW
Recent Hoffenheim form: LWDLDL

Team News

Bayern Munich's Leon Goretzka celebrates scoring their second goal with Niklas Sule and team mates on May 4, 2019© Reuters

For the champions, Leon Goretzka and Jann-Fiete Arp are both definitely ruled out, with the former set for a return to action later this month.

Ivan Perisic should return to the squad after missing Bayern's 3-2 win at Paderborn, although Lucas Hernandez is a major doubt after suffering a knee injury ahead of the win over Spurs.

Hoffenheim's current situation is not helped by the fact that several key players are injured: Andrej Kramaric and Steven Zuber have both been sidelined since the summer, with no timescale as to when they could return.

Kevin Vogt and Ishak Belfodil added themselves to the list by both suffering injuries against Borussia Monchengladbach last weekend, while Diadie Samassekou is set to recover from a hamstring problem by the end of October.

Bayern Munich possible starting lineup:
Neuer; Pavard, Sule, Martinez, Alaba; Tolisso, Alcantara; Gnabry, Coutinho, Coman; Lewandowski

Hoffenheim possible starting lineup:
Baumann; Posch, Akpoguma, Hubner, Skov; Grillitsch; Rudy, Geiger, Kaderabek, Bebou; Belfodil

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We say: Bayern Munich 4-0 Hoffenheim

With Bayern flying high following that victory over Spurs and playing at an impressive tempo, one cannot help but feel as if they will be far too much for a Hoffenheim side bereft of confidence and going through quite a considerable transition following a summer during which their squad was weakened.

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Who will win Saturday's Bundesliga clash between Bayern Munich and Hoffenheim?

Bayern Munich
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Philippe Coutinho celebrates scoring with Bayern Munich teammates on September 28, 2019
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