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  • Bayern Munich vs. Hoffenheim: A Clash of Titans in Bundesliga - Preview, Lineups, and Key Match Insights
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  • 03 January 2024

Bayern Munich vs. Hoffenheim: A Clash of Titans in Bundesliga - Preview, Lineups, and Key Match Insights

On Saturday afternoon, Bayern Munich and Hoffenheim play a match that might be crucial for both teams at the top and bottom of the Bundesliga league.

 

Hoffenheim is five points clear of relegation danger, while the hosts lead Borussia Dortmund by two points going into the match.

Match preview

Following Tuesday night's 3-0 loss to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in the first leg of their quarterfinal Champions League match, Thomas Tuchel will be even more motivated to make sure Bayern defeats his old team, Dortmund, in this year's exciting title fight.

 

The latest edition of Der Klassiker, which took place earlier this month, saw the reigning champions—who are looking to win the Bundesliga title for the eleventh time in a row—move back above BVB at the top of the table. It was Tuchel's first game in charge following his replacement of Julian Nagelsmann during the recent international break.

 

Last time out in the league, the Bavarians defeated Freiburg, who were hoping to qualify for the Champions League, 1-0 thanks to a thunderous strike from Matthijs de Ligt. Dortmund, on the other hand, kept up the pressure by eliminating Union Berlin, another championship candidate, 2-1.

 

Tuchel was effusive in his praise of his players' performance levels, even though Bayern were clearly second best for the majority of their midweek trip to Manchester to play Pep Guardiola's team. Goals from Rodri, Bernardo Silva, and Erling Haaland put the Premier League champions firmly in the lead ahead of next week's reverse leg in Munich.

 

It's debatable if this was an honest assessment of his team or an effort to lift morale after Freiburg recently crushed their hopes of winning the DFB-Pokal again, but their fate in the league remains firmly in their own hands; six victories and one tie remaining until the end of the season should secure their repeat as champions.

 

Similarly, Hoffenheim's worries about relegation have subsided when they emerged from a 14-game losing skid at the foot of the table last month, thanks to three straight victories in recent weeks.

 

An outstanding 2-1 victory away to Werder Bremen was surrounded by crucial home wins against relegation rivals Hertha Berlin and Schalke 04, when Pellegrino Matarazzo finally adopted the playing philosophy that made him so well-liked at Stuttgart.


 

Prior to their current run of success, the 45-year-old took over as head coach of Hoffenheim in early February, having lost his first five games in charge. Schalke's manager, Thomas Reis, acknowledged his team was mostly second best during their 2-0 loss at Rhein-Neckar-Arena on Sunday.

 

Although Matarazzo will undoubtedly highlight many areas for improvement, considering that his team's victory came from own goals from Alex Kral and Ihlas Bebou, they obviously have enough firepower to stay out of trouble, especially with Andrej Kramaric having scored three goals in two games before their most recent victory.

 

Even though Hertha and Schalke play each other on Friday night, which is sure to narrow the gap in one way or another, Matarazzo's team has given themselves some breathing room ahead of the final weeks of the season. Whether they can trouble Bayern at the Allianz Arena this weekend is another story.

 

Team News

 

Due to a knee injury, Eric Choupo-Moting has not played for Bayern since he was brought in as a substitute during his team's cup loss against Freiburg earlier this month. Before their vital home match against Man City the following week, Tuchel is unlikely to take a chance on him, especially given that he notably missed a focal point in their 3-0 loss on Tuesday.

 

A slight ankle injury may also keep De Ligt out of the game. Joao Cancelo will likely enter the game as a more attacking right-back thanks to Benjamin Pavard's slide inside, and Thomas Muller, who was listed on the bench in midweek, is expected to start.

 

After an alleged major altercation with Leroy Sane in the locker room following Guardiola's team's defeat, Sadio Mane will not play. The former Liverpool forward's career at the team appears to be in jeopardy following a challenging first season in Germany. Lucas Hernandez and Manuel Neuer have been out for a while.

 

Due to injuries, Hoffenheim will be missing Justin Che and Jacob Bruun Larsen, and Munas Dabbur will play the last match of his three-match suspension after being sent off against Hertha last month.

 

Due to ankle and muscular problems, respectively, Grischa Promel and Robert Skov are also major concerns. Considering his team's strong performance, Matarazzo is probably going to pick an identical starting lineup for the third straight matchday.

 

Possible starting lineup for Bayern Munich is as follows: Neuer; Cancelo, Pavard, Upamecano, Davies; Kimmich, Muller, and Musiala; Coman, Gnabry, and Sane


 

Baumann, Vogt, Brooks, Akpoguma; Kaderabek, Geiger, Becker, Angelino; Kramaric, Baumgartner; Bebou are the likely starting lineups for Hoffenheim.


 

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