Carlo Ancelotti was a footballer for 16 years and in his 20th year coaching. On Saturday afternoon in Munich, he will stand opposite Julian Nagelsmann, who is roughly half his age, never played top-flight football and has been a first-team head coach for nine months.
“It is very strange to see such a young coach. It means that I’m old,” Carlo Ancelotti said chuckling at Bayern Munich’s press conference on Friday.
Nagelsmann, who is just 29 years old, has been a hot topic in the Bundesliga in 2016. He not only saved Hoffenheim from relegation last season, but has them off to their greatest start in the club's brief Bundesliga history. His diligent analytical approach has Hoffenheim like their opponents on Saturday, off to a unbeaten start.
But with all of his early success in his coaching, he has yet to face the Bundesliga’s most successful team – or take his team to Munich no less. With Bayern on another winning streak – the defending champions have won their last five games in all competition – Nagelsmann faces the biggest test of his young career.
"The key against Bayern is to have confidence in our own performance," Nagelsmann said on Thursday.
Their confidence may drop quickly if Robert Lewandowski continues to have success against Hoffenheim goalkeeper Oliver Baumann. He has scored 12 of his 128 goals past Baumann, the most success he has ever had against one goalkeeper. With four goals in his last game – and a hat trick off the woodwork against PSV Eindhoven – Lewandowski may be a solid bet to get on the score sheet again.
The last time Bayern hosted a team in the top-four before the international break it did not go so well – a 1-1 draw against Cologne. But Ancelotti has since gotten Bayern refocused and re-energized. Knocking Hoffenheim down a peg would be a great way to continue their path to another fall championship.
Prediction: 2-1 Bayern win. Sandro Wagner and Andrej Kramaric have been very tough to contain, but they are going up against a very experienced German center back pair and their clever 34-year-old Spanish sidekick. Bayern have been winning recently by shutting off the supply in midfield, and they could do so again if Arturo Vidal and Thiago play the way they did in Bayern’s last home game against Gladbach.
Bayern Munich injuries and suspensions: Javi Martinez (groin), Franck Ribery
Hoffenheim injuries and suspensions: Mark Uth (thigh)
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