Matchday 11: TSG 1899 Hoffenheim vs. FC Bayern München | Preview

Miguel Villagran

A legitimate mid-table side may be tough to buckle on the road, and FC Bayern's unbeaten streak is on the line.

As good as they have been in the Bundesliga, FC Bayern München still are not the best.

Well, in titles yes. But unbeaten streaks? Not yet.

Hamburger SV, the only club never to be relegated, recorded 36 consecutive results from January 1982 to January 1983. That record is now dangling in front of the Rekordmeisters, and is another explanation of FC Bayern's relentless pursuit for perfection.

They travel to Sinsheim next, playing visitors to a side that has only been in the Bundesliga for five seasons, TSG Hoffenheim. A young, oddly deep squad awaits them as they hope to capture another mark of brilliance.

The Match (11th Meeting)

Location: Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena, Sinsheim, Germany

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Television and Streaming
USA: Gol TV
Canada: Gol TV
Germany: Sky Bundesliga 1 & 2 | HD, Sky Go, Liga Total, Liga Total Mobile TV
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The Fixture

Form

FC Bayern: WWWDW
Hoffenheim: WLDDW

Records

Bundesliga: 7 W, 3 D, 0 L

Top Scorers

1. Mario Gómez, FCB – 5
2. Franck Ribéry, FCB; Robben, FCB – 4
4. Vedad Ibisevic, HOF; Müller, FCB; Luca Toni, FCB – 2

Largest Victory: 7-1
Largest Draw: 2-2

The Squad

Pessimism... FC Bayern have conceded first in their last two Bundesliga matches, and have conceded at least one goal in their last three matches. OPTIMISM! FC Bayern have lost once and drawn twice in all competitions, currently sit atop the Bundesliga table, and have only conceded eight Bundesliga goals.

Not only those factoids, but Dante, Arjen Robben, and Toni Kroos could all be available, along with Javier Martínez resuming full fitness after his groin injury. The question of who plays is as vague as ever, especially considering the midweek rematch against Viktoria Plzen.

What role Martínez play? A way to gauge Guardiola's integrations would be to look at two cases, Mario Götze and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Schweinsteiger appeared on the team sheet 18 days after his ankle injury against Hannover 96, came off the bench against CSKA Moskva at midweek, and then started at the weekend against FC Schalke. Götze appeared on the team sheet 29 days after his ankle injury against VfL Wolfsburg and has come off the bench during every match since. Every injury has it's own timetable, but Martínez could be on the docket for a bump in playing time.

Speaking of Götze, his substitute role has yielded three goals and four assists in four games for club and country. So far, his super form has not brought a super bump of the bench and into the starting XI. Perhaps three matches in eight days will change Guardiola's mind, but a tight schedule did not affect Götze's role this past week.

Projected Lineup (4-1-4-1)

Mandžukić

Ribéry – Götze – Schweinsteiger – Müller

Lahm

AlabaBoateng – van Buyten – Rafinha

Neuer

Bench: Starke, Contento, Dante, Kirchhoff, Martínez, Kroos, Robben

The Opponent

Victims of the Phantomtor, Hoffenheim bounced back with spunk, downing Hannover 96 on the road. Now they get to face another top-four team in FC Bayern, and bring their 1-0-1 record against top-four sides with them.

A couple of studs have risen from their historical mediocre squad depth. Roberto Firmino, a 22-year-old Brazilian who plies his trade mostly on the left wing of Hoffenheim's 4-3-3, is tied for tops in the Bundesliga with seven goals, two more than he scored all of last year. Kevin Volland has five goals adjacent to Firmino, Anthony Modeste has scored six himself, although his form has cooled off as of late.

First-year manager Markus Gisdol has rolled with a younger lineup, a tactic that has in large part paid off. He has continued to give Koen Casteels the reins to the goalkeeper position, and the top eleven positional players in minutes played are all 27 years old or younger.

After an up and down start to the season, Jannik Vestergaard may have lost his spot to 18-year-old Niklas Süle, who has started the past two games against "elder statesman" David Abraham. Tobias Strobl also may have solidified a spot in the midfield three, performing well in partnership with Eugen Polanski and Sebastian Rudy.

Having conceded one goal the last time they hosted the Rekordmeister in Sinsheim, Hoffenheim may have a chance to hold FC Bayern at bay.

Projected Lineup (4-3-3)

Firmino – Modeste – Volland

Rudy – Polanski – Stroble

Salihovic – Süle – Abraham – Beck

Casteels

Bench: Grahl, Vestergaard, Thesker, Salihovic, Grifo, Schipplock, Herding

The Outcome

Hoffenheim are a tough out, especially on the road. Yes, FC Bayern have never lost to the fairly-recently promoted side, but each victory is harder and harder to guarantee. A few months ago in Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena, Mario Gómez provided the score, and he's not around anymore. Still, Hoffenheim have only one victory at home, so be surprised if FC Bayern unbeaten streak ends.

Projected Score: TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 1-2 FC Bayern München

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