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2 November 2013
• Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena, Sinsheim
Referee: T. Welz
• Attendance: 30150
N. Süle 34'
M. Mandžukić 39'
T. Müller 75'
That's my cue, it's been a pleasure. Bye for now.
Hardly vintage stuff from Bayern, but in the true mark of champions, they got the win despite playing at shades below their best. Muller was the match winner late in the second half, breaking the hearts of Hoffenheim, who had defended with distinction until that point. Bayern take the points, and re-take their lead at the Bundesliga summit.
90' + 3'
Hoffenheim never get the ball back as the referee blows for full time!
90' + 2'
Strobl gives away a careless free kick in the middle, and Bayern will milk the clock. They've got this now...
90' + 1'
Into the first of two added minutes.
MULLER! Bayern could have wrapped it up again there, as the goalscorer was released, but Casteels is swift off his line to save!
Time just slipping away from Hoffenheim as Bayern edge closer to the win that will take them back to the top of the Bundesliga by a point over Dortmund.
Yellow Card Sebastian Rudy
MULLER! That should have been the icing on the cake! Schweinsteiger's ball picked out the attacker in complete space, and he glanced a header towards the far side, but misses by inches! Hard to be too critical of him though, given that he's grabbed the all important goal!
This must be the worst thing in the world, chasing a game against this Bayern Munich team. They keep the ball with impunity, wearing you out by the minute, and have the players to punish any gaps on the break should you push too far forward.
Hoffenheim have realized that it's now or never. They're starting to pile bodies into the opposition half, but they have little cohesion anymore in the way that they attack.
Kroos with one of his patented passes from deep, nearly sliding in Gotze on goal, but he's intercepted by Abraham. And that may be the former Dortmund man's last act.
Tough, tough break for Hoffenheim, who began to believe that they could pull away with the points. But credit to Bayern for never giving up, and taking the lead despite not having their best outing. Still time yet to play though.
Assist Franck Ribéry
Goal Thomas Müller
Finally Bayern have their breakthrough! A superb link up play at the top of the box releases Gotze, who is tackled superbly by Sule. Kroos is on the rebound though, passing into Ribery, who turns on a dime and squares to Muller, who pokes the finish just ahead of Casteels!
Gotze is next to try his luck down the right flank, whipping in a cross towards the tireless Muller in the box. It's nothing but catching practice for Casteels though, who has also had himself a fine outing against the Bundesliga champs.
Muller ghosts in unnoticed at the far post, and gets his head to a devilish ball from Ribery, but he puts it agonizingly over the top!
Sule has not put a foot wrong so far, and makes another telling contribution. deflecting away a Ribery cross towards what would have been an unmarked Muller. All that and a goal to boot, what a game the centre back is having!
As the second half has worn on, Hoffenheim have abandoned their attacking intent. No longer do they look to counter having won the ball, now they appear to be satisfied with just hacking the ball clear. Bayern's pressure is growing incrementally, but they still have yet to create a genuine goalscoring chance in the second half.
RIBERY! Not far away from the mercurial winger, who bends a shot from the edge of the area that is deflected the wrong side of the post!
Casteels with a HUGE block on Ribery, who had left his man for dead, and played a one-two with Muller in the area. The Frenchman seemed set to poke in at the near post, but the Belgian keeper was quick off his line to thwart.
And that may be his last action of the evening, as Kroos is primed to replace the Croatian. I've been harping on about his tendency to move out to the flanks today, but his departure has deprived Bayern of their only out and out striker. Either Muller or Gotze is sure to fill the void.
Ribery streaks down the left flank and Mandzukic,, drifting back into the centre, nearly connects with a sweet volley, but as it was, he shanks it.
Bayern don't look to have too many options on the bench to make a difference in attack. I'm as surprised as you! No Robben or Pizarro today, with Kroos about the best that they can hope for, and even he's not exactly known for his goalscoring, a screamer or two aside. Regardless, the team on the pitch should be taking care of business.
It's just not been happening for Bayern Munich in attack since the restart. Their play and deliveries from out wide, so often their forte, has been lacking, which is a credit to the defence of Hoffenheim on those plays.
Mandzukic continues to drift to the flanks, leading to the strange sight of him tying to angle a cross into the pint-sized Gotze. Shouldn't those roles be reversed? The chance comes to naught, as Gotze does not get ahead of his man, and Mandzukic does not get the ball past the first defender at the near post.
Ribery lofts in a corner towards Dante at the far post. The Brazilian gets the jump on his man, and connects cleanly with the ball, and plants his header...onto the roof of the net.
Good to see that Hoffenheim have not abandoned their attacking intent since the interval. Far from it, in fact, as the play of Volland and Firmino on the wings have forced Bayern to defend a series of deliveries coming in from both flanks! This game is far, far from over.
Salihovic is like a terrier out on the right flank, sending Lahm this way and that, before whipping in a devilish cross towards the far post. For one glorious second, Volland thought about the overhead kick, but decided against it an the ball sails over his head. Boo.
Shot of Jogi Low in attendance, casting an eye on the plethora of options on show for the national team. The competition for places in the Bayern attack is mirrored by that in the German national side, so the likes of Muller and Gotze should be doubly keen to impress.
Here we go again!
Dortmund have already done the business on Friday, thrashing Stuttgart 6-1. so the ball is now in Bayern's court. Can they get the points that they need to keep pace at the Bundesliga summit? It's all set up for the restart, so stay tuned folks!
A first half that has been nothing if not entertaining. Bayern were the better side throughout, but did not create as many clear cut chances as you would expect, with a series of partial openings snatched at by a number of players. But a huge muddle from Neuer put the opener on a platter for Hoffenheim, before Mandzukic inadvertently leveled matters on the scoreboard with the luckiest of deflections.
45' + 2'
The referee ends the half before Bayern even have a chance to orchestrate their final attack, with the whistle blowing before Schweinsteiger can swing a cross in.
45' + 1'
Into the first and only minute of injury time.
FIRMINO! The forward finds a gap at the far post, and drills towards the opposite side, but narrowly misses, flashing the ball across goal with no one in a blue shirt there to tap in!
Volland has the time and the space to really make a run at Lahm down the flanks, but passes it up with a safety-first pass back to the midfield.
The match becoming enjoyably stretched now, as each team has sensed weakness in the other. Hoffenheim in particular have begun to exploit the flanks on the counter. Strobl's diagonal out to Firmino narrowly cut out by Lahm.
Assist Franck Ribéry
Goal Mario Mandzukic
A soft, soft goal to concede. From a free-kick, Ribery bent a harmless effort towards goal and Mandzukic, who was trying to get out of the way, ends up diverting it with his crotch into the back of the net, wrong-footing Casteels completely!
NOT FOR LONG, BAYERN BACK ON TERMS!
Yellow Card David Abraham
The home side win a succession of corners, but Bayern, through hook and crook, just about manage to clear them all. Still, this is much better from Hoffenheim, who are taking the game to Bayern at the moment!
That was poor from Neuer, but he'd better brush that off quickly as Hoffenheim keep attacking!
Goal Niklas Süle
Out of nowhere, the home side put paid to a long spell of Bayern pressure to get themselves in front! A corner is made into a complete hash by Neuer, and Sule converts the rebound!
HOFFENHEIM TAKE THE LEAD!
Muller does his best Mandzukic impression there though, leaping highest to knock down a ball for Ribery at the top of the D. The Frenchman has the angle and the run to shoot...but releases a daisy-cutter into the arms of Casteels, who still needs two bites of the cherry to smother!
Bayern would really benefit from a subtle change in approach. Mandzukic's tendency to drift wide has deprived Bayern of a true target in the area on some plays, with the greatest respect to the deputizing Muller, fine player that he is. In Robery and Gotze, the visitors have, or should have the flanks covered. The Croatian needs to get back into his natural habitat of the penalty box, total football or not.
Ribery, who has been strangely subdued (for him), squeezes in a low cross from the right that is missed by a host of players, before Muller finally decides to have a whack at it. He connects on the turn, but sends his effort into orbit.
Bayern cranking up the pressure on the Hoffenheim goal. The visitors have barely managed to breach the halfway line with the ball in what seems like forever and a day. Can they find the scope to catch out Die Roten's back line, which is creeping into a dangerously high position as Bayern's dominance grows?
Martinez comes within a foot of hooking the ball into the back of the net in highly unorthodox fashion. Schweinsteiger's free-kick found the Spaniard with the freedom of the grounds at the near post, but he was facing the wrong direction and had to improvise on the fly. Valiant attempt, but nothing in the end.
First real sight of Schweinstieger strutting his stuff in the attacking third. A Muller layoff primed him to have a crack at goal from 25 yards, but he needn't have bothered. The shot goes way, way over the bar.
Shameless dive from Gotze who shouts: "Timber!" as he goes falling to the turf long after a pillow-soft challenge from Sule in the box. Bayern remonstrate furiously with the referee, but he rightfully does not fall for it, and to be honest, Gotze is lucky that he is not the first name in the book.
What a STUNNING reflex save from Casteels! Ribery and Muller contrived and combined to carve the hosts apart at the top of the box, with the latter played in on goal for an impossibly powerful drive that the keeper just about managed to punch away!
Alaba with a scintillating run down the right, slicing and dicing the Hoffenheim backline through sheer pace. He advances menacingly on Casteels from the byeline, but the keeper stands his ground at the pear post and blocks the Austrian's attempted finish!
Is it my imagination, or has Gotze usurped Mandzukic as the spearhead of Bayern's attack? Or maybe it's just some fluidity in the frontline encouraged by Pep. The Croatian target man has been spotted drifting to the flanks, while his namesake has positioned himself in the centre to receive the ball more than once.
We have a Hoffenheim sighting? The hosts break at pace towards the Bayern Munich goal. Firmino comes close to slotting in Modeste, but Martinez had dropped into the defensive line on that play, and makes a superb challenge to nip the chance in the bud.
A few touches from Lahm, drafted back into his natural position on the side of the defence after a spell in the centre of the park. Moving the Bayern skipper into midfield seemed to be the beginning of the descent into madness for Guardiola, but like so many things that the manager has touched, it turned to gold in his hands, as Lahm did not miss a beat. Speaks to the quality of the coach, and the absolute talent of the player.
Mandzukic is making himself a target, as ever, inside the box. Sule and Abraham, Hoffenheim's central defensive pairing, are going to have their hands full with the Croatian, who is nothing if not tenacious and physical.
Muller came off worse in that collision, and needs some patching up by the physios. Play halted for a moment.
A punt from the back by Martinez, and what seems like a routine catch for Casteels. But hang on a second, out comes Muller from nowhere to challenge the keeper for the ball! Casteels just about got his mitts on that one though, and Muller succeeds only in fouling him on that play.
A comfortable start to proceedings for the Bavarian giants, who have responded well to some early high pressing from Hoffenheim, keeping possession with that Guardiola-esque flair.
The match kicks off, and Schweinsteiger is immediately fouled, and looks extremely peeved at that infraction!
The teams are in place, and we're just about ready for the plunge...
Should such a scenario occur, then Pep Guardiola will also be the man that led Bayern to their longest ever unbeaten start to the season, with their current 10-game streak matching Branko Zebec's historic 1968-69 incarnation of Die Roten, who claimed the club's maiden Buli title.
Today can be a banner matchday for the visitors from Bavaria. Bayern can equal Hamburg's 30-year old record of 36 league matches without losing - their current run at 35 games since falling 2-1 at home to Bayer Leverkusen nearly one year to the day ago.
Hoffenheim lose two of their regulars to the injury bug. Fabian Johnson and Jeremy Toljan sit out with ankle and thigh complaints respectively. Not the best news for Markus Gisdol, whose defence has conceded the joint-most goals in the league this campaign, and are up against a side with arguably the best collection of attacking talent ever to set foot in the Bundesliga.
The inclusion of Martinez is an interesting one. Bayern have ostensibly lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with the Spaniard anchoring and Schweinstiger pushed forward closer to the advanced midfield line. But the last time that Schweini played as a full-fledged attacking mid, Pep had something closely resembling a full head of hair. Expect to see the Germany international drop deeper alongside Martinez to recreate that two-pronged midfield pivot that brought the Bavarians so much success last term.
Some good news on the injury front for Pep Guardiola and his troops, as Dante has been patched up in time to start in the centre of defence. Javi Martinez also makes his first start after about two months on the sidelines with injury, after a cameo off the bench in the win over Hertha last weekend.
BAYERN MUNICH (4-1-4-1): Neuer; Lahm, Dante, Boateng, Alaba; Martinez; Gotze, Muller, Schweinsteiger, Ribery; Mandzukic.
HOFFENHEIM (4-3-2-1): Casteels; Beck, Abraham, Sule, Salihovic; Herdling, Strobl, Rudy; Volland, Firmino; Modeste.
The starting lineups are in, so let's have a look.
Greetings everyone, and welcome to another weekend of Bundesliga action. The Dietman-Hopp Stadium is the arena where Hoffenheim and Bayern Munich will do battle today. I'm Keeghann Sinanan, your designated scribe for all the action.
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