Hoffenheim and Bayern hope to gather some momentum after each team were held to draws on the weekend.
The early season has been a good one for Hoffenheim, who had a perfect three wins in as many matches before last weekend’s slip up against Kaiserslautern. After Luis Gustavo put the village team ahead, Erwin Hoffer netted a second half brace, and it seemed that Hoffenheim might have been on their way to a first defeat of the season.
Enter Gylfi Sigurdsson, the Icelandic midfielder who was discovered by coach Ralf Rangnick’s son while he was on holiday in England. The former Reading man delivered a fine free kick to level the terms, and Hoffenheim managed to earn a draw.
“After the equaliser shortly following the break, it was clear that we weren’t at our best,” Rangnick told reporters. “We have to be satisfied the point, because we did not play very well.”
It may have been encouraging to have come back to earn a draw, but Hoffenheim’s failure to win on the weekend left them two points adrift of league leaders Mainz. Having lost their position atop the league table, Hoffenheim will be keen to rebound, even if it is against a dangerous Bayern side.
Bayern Desperate For Momentum
They may have won their Champions League opener against Roma, but Bayern have gone 270 minutes in the Bundesliga without scoring. In terms of ball control, the reigning German champions have completely dominated nearly every match in which they have played, but ultimately have had little to show for their efforts.
Most recently, against Koeln, Bayern won more than 77% of possession and completed nearly 90% of their passes. Their visitors were almost completely starved of chances to score. Yet, for all their ball control, Bayern barely made any scoring opportunities of their own.
“We didn’t take our chances again, and this time, the final pass wasn’t always accurate enough,” coach Louis van Gaal told reporters. “We did everything we could to get into dangerous positions in the box, but that’s not enough. We’ve also got to score.”
Bayern now have just five points from four matches, and are winless since their opener against Wolfsburg. They will face a Hoffenheim side that is far more technically proficient than recent opponents Koeln and Kaiserslautern, and that will be far more eager to attack.
Hoffenheim’s presumed willingness to attack at home may open up more opportunities for Bayern to use their pace and skill in open space, but this reality should not be taken for granted as a positive.
Matthias Jaissle and Chinedu Obasi remain a bit short of health for Ralf Rangnick’s side, but the Hoffenheim coach should have an otherwise full squad on hand, assuming no late injuries are reported. The only position in question is left back, where either Marvin Compper or Christian Eichner will start.
Probable Starting XI: Starke - Beck, Simunic, Vorsah, Compper - Weis, Luis Gustavo, Salihovic - Mlapa, Ibisevic, Ba
It’s been three matches since Bayern last scored domestically, and Louis van Gaal could make a tactical change, but the coach is more likely to stick with his standard 4-2-3-1 formation. Arjen Robben remains unavailable with a torn hamstring, and Breno is again unlikely to start due to fitness concerns, but Van Gaal should have the same squad available that has featured throughout the early season.
Probable Starting XI: Butt - Lahm, Van Buyten, Badstuber, Contento - Van Bommel, Schweinsteiger - Mueller, Kroos, Ribery - Klose
Players To Watch:
Hoffenheim: Isaac Vorsah
The Ghanaian defender has been in exceptional form this season, starring at both ends of the pitch. At his best, Vorsah is a veritable brick wall in defence, and poses a formidable aerial threat. He already has scored twice this year, and should Hoffenheim manage to get on the scoreboard against Bayern, he may well be the one to deiliver.
Bayern: Thomas Mueller
It seems that whenever Bayern score, he has something to do with it. Mueller netted a gorgeous goal in Bayern’s Bundesliga opener, and delivered another stunner last week against Roma. It may take a moment of brilliance to score against Hoffenheim, but Mueller has repeatedly proven his ability to score phenomenal goals.
For reasons tactical and quality-based, Hoffenheim will get overrun in midfield, and Bayern should expect to win possession at least by a 2:1 ratio. However, there is really little reason to expect the Bavarians to do much with the ball. THough it is entirely possible that Hoffenheim will score on the counterattack, or that any of a number of Bayern players may have a spark of brilliance, but a scoreless draw seems most likely.
Hoffenheim 0-0 Bayern Munich
Click here to follow the Goal.com Twitter feed and join Goal.com USA's Facebook fan page!