International Sport > German Football > BAYERN KICK-OFF TITLE DEFENCE


Bayern Munich kick off start the defence of their Bundesliga crown with a home encounter against Hoffenheim at the Allianz Arena on Friday.

The German champions – a title the Bavarians have had for six years now – began preparation for the new season at the International Champions Cup in the United States (winning one, losing two).

Niko Kovac’s charges followed that up with a commanding 5-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the German Super Cup, with last season’s top scorer Robert Lewandowski sending out an intimidating message with three well-taken goals.

Lewandowski struck again on Saturday as Bayern Munich edged past SV Drochtersen/Assel in the first round of the DFB Pokal to maintain Kovac’s 100% start as coach.

Hoffenheim’s third place finish last season secured them automatic qualification into the UEFA Champions’ League group stages for the first time in the club’s history.

Coach Julian Nagelsmann’’s achievements over his two and a half seasons at the club, turning them from relegation contenders to two consecutive top four finishes, has naturally drawn a lot of attention, even more so due his age – at 31 years old, he is the Bundesliga’s youngest coach.

He will leave Hoffenheim to join Bundesliga rivals RB Leipzig next summer, but has stated his commitment to go out on a high.

The visitors’ pre-season has been positive to that end, with loanee signing Joelinton scoring a hat-trick in a 6-1 rout of Kaiserslautern in the DFB Pokal first round last weekend.

However, even with a few other transfers in over the summer (see team news), Nagelsmann will have a massive challenge in finding a way to break through the Bayern defense at the Allianz Arena without two pivotal players from last season, forwards Mark Uth (sold to Schalke) and Serge Gnabry (returned from loan to Bayern).

Some selection headaches in midfield due to injuries will do him no favours either, especially with Bayern Munich having returned to their best at the back with captain Manuel Neuer between the sticks once again.

While there is no better feeling in German football than getting one over on Bayern Munich, unfortunately for Hoffenheim, their chances look slim on Friday.

Bayern love nothing more than winning on the opening day of the season – the Bavarians have won all of the last six Bundesliga openers, with scorelines like 3-1 against Leverkusen, 5-0 against Hamburg, and 6-0 against Bremen being some more notable results – and Hoffenheim, as with most German sides, have a poor record on the road to the champions.

The German champions have won eight of the 10 meetings at home to Hoffenheim (Won 8, Draw two), scoring three goals or more in five of them.

So Nagelsmann couldn’t have asked for a tougher opener.

Hoffenheim have managed to get a few results against the Bavarians since he took over, winning two, drawing one and losing just once, but both wins have come on their own turf.

On the road with a much weakened squad should prove a much tougher challenge this time around, especially with Bayern missing only forward Serge Gnabry, who was also absent for their 5-2 pumping of Hoffenheim at the Allianz Arena back in January.
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Saturday, January 19, 2019
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