15:30 (CEST), Saturday 26th August, BayArena (Leverkusen, Germany)
In the Bundesliga it was a mixed bag of results for both clubs with Bayer Leverkusen making a relatively good account for themselves but lost 3-1 to Bayern. Hoffenheim started their weekend on a high with an opening day win but will have to settle for Europa League football alongside fellow Bundesliga clubs Hertha Berlin and Köln after losing 4-2 at Anfield to Liverpool.
Hoffenheim have never had a stretch of 4 games in 12 days, and the question remains can Julian Nagelsmann’s side provide a solid 90 minutes against a Bayer Leverkusen side which showed they can create a chance, but will they be able to take advantage of the shots they create.
Last Time Out
Bayern Munich 3-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Leverkusen were involved in the season opener in Munich as they took on record champions Bayern Munich. Bayern got the jump racing to a two goal lead thanks to the opener from Niklas Süle and Corentin Tolisso. The Video Assist Referee (VAR) is in for the new season and was used in the opening game as referee Tobias Stieler missed a tug on Robert Lewandowski’s shirt from Charles Aránguiz.
VAR stepped in and awarded a penalty to Bayern and a yellow for Aránguiz’s trouble. Lewandowski stepped up to make it 3-0 to the hosts. Leverkusen would pull one back midway through the second half thanks to a thunderous strike by Admir Mehmedi, but it only served as a consolation as Bayer went down on matchday 1.
Hoffenheim 1-0 Werder Bremen
After tasting defeat in the first leg of the Champions League at home, Hoffenheim welcomed the visit of Werder Bremen on the opening weekend of the Bundesliga. Hoffenheim started positively by testing new Bremen shot stopper Jiri Pavlenka but to no reward. The best chance in the first half fell to Florian Kainz when Fin Bartels centred the ball in, a simple tap was all that it required but a contender for miss of the season was that came from the effort.
Hoffenheim would eventually punish that error in the final 10 minutes when Ádám Szalai set up Andrej Kramarić to open his account for the season and secure all three points for the Sinsheim club.
Bayer Leverkusen Lineup
Although the result was a defeat in Heiko Herrlich first Bundesliga clash in charge of Bayer Leverkusen, his side produced a respectable performance. In the second half, his substitutions made a considerable impact and Leverkusen’s second half performance should be something to build on.
Three changes are expected from the side that started in Munich with Sven Bender out with through injury and Leon Bailey and Charles Aránguiz dropping to the bench. Coming in are Julian Brandt, Aleksander Dragovic and Kevin Kampl.
Hoffenheim will be looking to bounce back in Leverkusen after being bounced out of the Champions League at the play-off stage. Nagelsmann played a 3-4-2-1 which for the most part didn’t work and we should see him revert to the 3-5-2 which has been successful for the 30-year old so far.
Nadiem Amiri didn’t make the journey to England in midweek but should be in the starting XI come Saturday with Serge Gnabry dropping to the bench. Florian Grillitsch is set to return from injury but will make do on the bench.
Key Battle: Kevin Volland vs Havard Nordtveit
A key battle in the context of this game as both players have something to prove this season. Kevin Volland came as a big money signing to Bayer Leverkusen and in truth hasn’t repaid the invest Rüdi Voller made for the then German International.
Last season, Volland struggled to make a meaningful impact with 6 goals and 2 assists, his worst return since the 2010/11 season when he was playing 2.Bundesliga football for 1860 Munich.
Havard Nordtveit was an excellent player for Borussia Mönchengladbach and his ability to play in midfield alongside Christoph Kramer or even in defence to fill a hole made him a valuable asset. Like Volland, it was a difficult previous term for Nordtveit who only made 16 appearances at West Ham in the Premier League in an extremely frustrating campaign.
Now back in the Bundesliga at Hoffenheim, can Nordtveit recapture his glittering form that made a treasured piece so many years ago.
Future of German football
Both teams possess a wealth of young talent and in years to come they will represent the German National Team if they remain on this trajectory. Julian Brandt and Kerem Demirbay are two players who lit up the Bundesliga last time out with the later featuring in Germany’s Confederations Cup triumph in the off-season.
The likes of Serge Gnabry and Jonathan Tah have already featured for Jogi Löw’s side whilst Benjamin Henrichs and Jeremy Toljan have garnered plenty of attention from clubs in the Premier League. With this season being a World Cup year, who will step up to the plate and put their name in contention.
History favours Hoffenheim
In recent meetings between the two sides, it was Hoffenheim who took the points. In the corresponding fixture in Leverkusen, Hoffenheim found the net three times with goals from Kerem Demirbay, Sandro Wagner and Steven Zuber. The cause was helped with former Hoffenheim man Kevin Volland seeing red just 6 minutes in. The fixture in Hoffenheim only welded only one goal and that cane from Sandro Wagner. Can Leverkusen turn the tie around with a win on matchday 2?
Prediction: Bayer Leverkusen 1-2 Hoffenheim
With Hoffenheim playing 4 games in 12 days, this provides and excellent opportunity to pounce on a fatiguing Hoffenheim side looking to get to the international break. Kevin Volland will be looking to make amends against his former club but will find it tough against a strong Hoffenheim defence that had its colours lowered in midweek.
Goals should be on the menu and I can’t look past Hoffenheim who still look in better shape than Leverkusen and will do enough to win this fixture.
Will it be Bayer Leverkusen or Hoffenheim taking the points at the BayArena? Let us know in the comments section below
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