Defending champions Bayern Munich open the 2018-19 Bundesliga season by welcoming Hoffenheim to their newly facelifted Allianz Arena on Friday night. Kick off time is at 8:30 pm CEST/7:30 pm BST/2:30 pm ET.
Not Without Controversy
Bayern Munich’s 6th straight Bundesliga title in 2017-18 wasn’t without controversy as manager Carlos Ancelotti was fired six games into the season and despite having a record of 4 wins, 1 loss, and 1 draw. Ancelotti had been in charge since July 2016 but a 0-3 loss to PSG in the Champions League probably triggered his ouster. Not to mention that players like Lewandowski, Muller, and Robben were unwilling to support Ancelotti.
Jupp Heynckes was appointed as Bayern Munich manager for the fourth time, but this time his tenure was only for the remainder of the season. Heynckes was the man behind the Bavarians treble-winning season in 2012-13. He led Bayern to 22 wins, 3 losses, and 1 draw and steered them to their 6th straight Bundesliga title with 84 points and with still five games left to spare.
Niko Kovac has since succeeded Heynckes and the former long-standing captain of the Croatian team won his first match as Bayern manager with a 5-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in the German Super Cup. Robert Lewandowski was at the helm of the Bavarians’ attack. Last season’s Bundesliga top scorer scored three goals in the contest as Bayern won its third straight German Super Cup.
Lewandowski struck again last weekend as the Polish ace scored in the 81st minute to give Bayern Munich a 1-0 win over fourth-tier side Drochtersen/Assel in the first round of the DFB Cup and give Niko Kovac his second win in as many games as Bayern’s boss.
Kovac is set to welcome David Alaba back from injury but Serge Gnabry is still a doubtful starter here. Comebacking midfielder Renato Sanches, recent signee Leon Goretzka and James Rodriguez who is back from an ankle injury are probably going to come off the bench for Bayern Munich in this fixture.
FC Bayern Munchen vs TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 8/24/18
Odds: Bayern Munchen -385, Hoffenheim +825
Odds from Betonline.ag as of 8/22/18
Hoffenheim Continues To Rise
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim finished 3rd in the 2017-18 Bundesliga to continue their rise under the leadership of team manager Nagelsmann. Nagelsmann was appointed manager in 2015, becoming the youngest manager in the history of Bundesliga at age 28. When he took over, Hoffenheim was 17th in the league and 7 points away from relegation. Now, Hoffenheim is coming off their best league finish in their 10th Bundesliga season.
Hoffenheim finished the 2017-18 Bundesliga season tied with Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen with 55 points apiece. But they bested both sides with a goal difference of 18 as compared to 17 and 14 for Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen, respectively. The final position was ultimately decided by Hoffenheim’s victory over Dortmund in its final game of the season.
The third-place finish bolstered Nagelsmann’s stock, especially since Hoffenheim clinched a UEFA Champions League spot for the first time ever in club history. Unfortunately, Nagelsmann’s contract is almost up and he will depart for RB Leipzig next summer. Still, he is determined to go out on a blaze of glory. He hopes that begins with a win in Munich.
New recruits Kasim Adams and Leonardo Bittencourt are expected to start for Nagelsmann on Friday night. Brazilian Joelinton, who is back after a two-year loan to Rapid Vienna, could be given his first Bundesliga start after posting a hat trick in Hoffenheim’s 6-1 demolition of Kaiserslautern in their DFB first round match.
On the negative side, Hoffenheim is going to miss the services of Nadiem Amiri, Kerem Demirbay, Dennis Geiger, Benjamin Hubner and Lukas Rupp. With their opponents anticipating to have just one absentee in this match, the visitors are in a manpower disadvantage.
This is the second time that these sides will play each other in a Bundesliga curtain-raiser. The last time out, these teams figured in a 1-1 draw at the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar Arena in 2009-10.
Hoffenheim has lost 13 of the last 20 matches against Bayern, giving up 44 goals over that period including 7 in their worst Bundesliga defeat at the Allianz Arena in March 2012. However, the picture has changed since Nagelsmann arrived.
After failing to beat the record champions in their first 17 encounters, Hoffenheim has won two of the last three meetings between these sides. Under Nagelsmann, Hoffenheim has a winning record of two wins, one loss and one draw against Bayern Munich.
But Bayern Munich has won 8 out of the last 10 Bundesliga games against Hoffenheim while drawing with them in 2013-14 and 2016-17. The defending champions scored a total of 32 games in those 10 contests, including at least two goals in 9 of the 10. Lewandowski has scored 7 goals in 14 games versus Hoffenheim and he’s found the net in the Bundesliga opener during the last three years. For TSG, only Gnabry and Mark Uth scored against Bayern Munich during the last term. But both have since left Hoffenheim.
This should be an exciting opener and while Nagelsmann has had success against Bayern in his term at TSG, he will be without Mark Uth who scored 17 goals for them in the last term. The void left by midfielder Arturo Vidal could be something Nagelsmann can take advantage of but even then, it may not be enough.
Kovac has the stronger team at his disposal and that will probably spell the difference. With the loss of key players, a draw(at +480) is perhaps the most plausible result that Nagelsmann can expect here. But Bayern Munich have been champions for six straight terms. Even with a new coach, the chemistry and talent are there.
We’re picking FC Bayern Munchen to beat TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on 8/24/18.