Match week 6 of the 2012-2013 Bundesliga season. With a perfect record and a +17 goal differential, Bayern is taking the early season lead in the race of the league title. But Bayern's mid-week loss to BATE has led to a bit of consternation in the locker room. Now, the club faces a challenge vs. Hoffenheim - not an elite team, but one that has gone undefeated in its last 3.
Arjen Robben has been left out of the Dutch squad for the upcoming WC qualifiers. David Alaba is similarly out of action for Austria's upcoming matches. No official word from FC Bayern on their statuses, but this certainly isn't a good sign. On the back line, Rafinha, van Buyten or Tymoschuk remain options if Jupp Heynckes wants to give one of those regulars a rest. Which, to be honest, might not be a bad idea.
OK, now, having written all that, the club's official site just posted their preview, which notes that Robben and Ribery are both doubtful (along with the long-term casualties). Ribery has a "tight calf," whatever the hell that means.
Here's my guess:
Shaqiri - Kroos - Mueller
Gustavo - Martinez
Badstuber - van Buyten - Boateng - Lahm
Yes, it's a wild guess as far as DvB. Just figuring maybe it's time to give some of the guys a rest (and Heynckes did always like him). Let's hear your predictions below.
Hoffenheim started off the season as one of the 1. Bundesliga's bottom-feeders, losing to Berliner AK in the opening round of the Pokal, and then losing 3 straight to start the season. The low point was probably the loss to Freiburg almost 3 weeks ago, in which TSG leaked two late goals on the way to a 5-3 loss. This was SC Freiburg's only win of the year, and the only time they've scored more than 1 goal in a match.
Hoffenheim has righted the ship in the mean time, though, with a pair of impressive wins followed by a draw. The most impressive was probably the 3-1 victory over Hannover 96, a previously undefeated side with a solid line-up (although, to be fair, H96 was working on 3 days' rest after a Europa League match).
More importantly, Hoffenheim is still reeling from the loss of Boris Vukcevic. The 22-year old midfielder was critically injured in a car accident earlier this week. The most recent word is that he's in a medically induced coma, with his condition still critical (though signs are he may be stabilizing). Obviously, everyone's thought remain with Boris and his family.
So ... now that our collective buzz has been sufficiently harshed-upon, here's a quick look at TSG's weaponry:
- Takashi Usami, former Bayern loan-man and current TSG loan-man. They're giving him more burn then we ever did.
- Erin Derdiyok, newly bought from Bayer Levs, hasn't played yet. But the rumors are he could make his debut.
- Tim Wiese, the long-time Werder B 'keeper, mans the net.
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UPDATE - Wiese is out due to injury. Thanks, guys.
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- They have a pair of half-American kids who have apparently attracted Klinsmann's attention, Fabian Johnson and Daniel Williams.
Elsewhere in the Competition
In a few hours, Augsburg hosts Bremen, as the Auggies are still looking for their first victory. VfL Wolfsburg travels to Schalke tomorrow. But the biggest matches (aside from Bayern) take place on Sunday, as Dortmund travels to Hannover and Borussia Monchengladbach will battle Mainz. BMG got crushed by Dortmund last week, then gave up 4 in their loss to Fenerbahce in the Europa League. They still have only a single win in Bundesliga play. I still think they have the talent and the smarts to make a run at a top-8 spot, but if they lose more ground, their window starts to close.
- Our match is carried live on Gol! TV, and kicks off tomorrow (Saturday) at 3:30 PM local time. For the time in your area, check the following widget (you might need to click the AM/PM button):
Time zone converter at worldtimebuddy.com
- If you're taking part in the Bracket Challenge, note that Kate L has posted updated standings in the FanPosts section.
- Finally, if you have some time to kill, check out this piece I wrote on World Cup qualifiers over at By Far The Greatest Team, an all-things-football website.
We'll be here tomorrow morning with the Match Day Thread, and then afterwards with a recap and hopefully plenty of goal videos. Thanks for readin.