Is it a coincidence that Bayern Munich will play Hamburger SV – the one club with a longer Bundesliga tenure than them – as the start another half century in Germany's top flight? This opening match coming of course to start the Rekordmeister's fourth attempt to win four Bundesliga titles in a row.
A big undertaking on the docket, Bayern will commence their 51st Bundesliga campaign in a state that is a tad disjointed. With all the changes and returns to the club, Bayern may look a more disorganized team than Hamburg, not the best territory in which to roam. Regardless, is there a better club to help you get back on track than a team struggling to stay in the Bundesliga?
The two clubs have history to say the least, one lopsided in Bayern's favor in recent years. In fact, Bayern have recorded their two biggest victories against Hamburg in the last three seasons, both coming in Allianz Arena. The club may have new faces on their team sheet, but the quality discrepancy between them and the Bundesliga's oldest club is still as vast the distance between the two cities.
The Match (113th Meeting)
Location: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Head: Bastian Dankert
FC Bayern: 4 W, 0 D, 1 L – 7 YC, 1 RC
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FC Bayern: WL
Bundesliga: 59 W, 22 D, 19 L
DFB Pokal: 7 W, 1 D, 2 L
DFL-Supercup: 1 W, 0 L
Ligapokal: 1 W, 0 L
Largest Victory: 8-0 (Bundesliga: February 14, 2015, Munich)
Largest Defeat: 0-5 (Bundesliga: April 1, 1977, Hamburg)
Bayern have a lot to worry about this season, but the first match of the season does not tend to be one of them. The last time they lost the opening match of the season was against Marco Reus led Borussia Mönchengladbach, and has never lost to Hamburg in the opening match of the season. That said, Bayern will still want to start the season off well if they want to win a fourth consecutive Bundesliga title.
How does Pep Guardiola start Bayern off on the right foot? With his brand new toys of course! Douglas Costa and Arturo Vidal are set to make spectacular home debuts, especially against a side who has struggled to hold the ball in recent seasons. Douglas and Arjen Robben will also be able to widen the play like Bayern teams of old, with the help of David Alaba and Philipp Lahm of course.
While Guardiola has a glut of midfielders at his disposal, he will likely want to have Thomas Müller playing off of Robert Lewandowski as in the DFL-Supercup. However, Thiago Alcântara will be back from his stomach ailment, so he could certainly get his first start of the season on Friday as well. Although Guardiola has played Lahm in midfield in recent weeks, having him in defense will open up the midfield for others. Just because Lahm starts as a fullback does not mean he will stay there.
Bayern's goals in this match are pretty straight forward, and they can go in with a lot of confidence having come off their largest victory against Hamburg just six months ago. Being a match at home, it is one the players will certainly be up for.
Projected Lineup (4-1-4-1):
Douglas Costa – Arturo Vidal – Thomas Müller – Arjen Robben
David Alaba – Medhi Benatia – Jérôme Boateng – Philipp Lahm
Bench: Sven Ulreich, Dante, Rafinha, Joshua Kimmich, Sebastian Rode, Thiago Alcäntara, Mario Götze
Out/Suspended: Holger Badstuber (thigh), Jan Kirchhoff (ankle), Javi Martínez (knee), Franck Ribéry (ankle)
Nearly getting relegated for a second consecutive season, manager Bruno Labbadia will hope to put the Dinosauren's best foot forward as he starts his first full season as Hamburg's manager. Having five different managers over the last two seasons, Labbadia will have to start well he doesn't want to have a similar fate of his predecessors.
Hamburg seem to have a more respectable direction to their club going into this season, letting loose the more seasoned players who were loosing their flavor and adding fresh ingredients to the mix. Perhaps the most important addition is Albin Ekdal, a player who came from Cagliari upon their relegation to Serie B in Italy. He provides more of a commanding presence in midfield, something the club has sorely lacked over the past two seasons.
Combined with Lewis Holtby and Marcelo Díaz, Hamburg have a much more respectable midfield. However, even with the chance they took on Emir Spahić, the defense is still a real worry for Labbadia. They are not on the same page, likely due to inexperience with each other. It certainly showed last weekend against fourth-tier Carl Zeiss Jena, a club that was able to topple them in extra time of the DFB-Pokal first round.
Hamburg were able to snatch a point from Bayern with defensive discipline, but this side has not really shown that this season. Still, Labbadia could still use his charisma to push his side on to a shocking result in the opening weekend.
Projected Lineup (4-1-4-1):
Ivo Iličević – Lewis Holtby – Albin Ekdal – Nikolai Müller
Matthias Ostrzolek – Emir Spahić – Johan Djourou – Dennis Diekmeier
Bench: Andreas Hirzel, Cléber Reis, Gotoku Sakai, Gojko Kačar, Gideon Jung, Ivica Olić, Sven Schipplock
Out/Suspended: Batuhan Altintas (thigh), Jaroslav Drobny (shoulder), Ashton Götz (knee)
Much like many of Bayern's fixtures this season, the match will be won in midfield. Despite recent success, Bayern have yet to plant their flag there in the preseason, even with the imposing Vidal in the team. Hamburg could get on the end of the chance if they play their cards right, but it will require competency from their mediocre wingers. Having such a good record at home as it is, there is no way Bayern are losing this opening weekend.
The Other Action
Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs. TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
FC Augsburg vs. Hertha Berliner SC (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
SV Werder Bremen vs. FC Schalke 04 (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
1. FSV Mainz 05 vs. FC Ingolstadt 04 (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
SV Darmstadt 98 vs. Hannover 96 (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
Borussia Dortmund vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (Saturday, 12:30 PM ET)
VfL Wolfsburg vs. Eintracht Frankfurt (Sunday, 9:30 AM ET)
VfB Stuttgart vs. 1. FC Köln (Sunday, 11:30 AM ET)