18:30 (CEST), Saturday 9th September, Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena (Sinsheim, Germany) BT Sport/ESPN
A game that will attract plenty of attention in Week 3 is Hoffenheim hosting Bayern Munich on Saturday night.
Bayern have got off to a perfect start with victories over Bayer Leverkusen and Werder Bremen, whilst their opponents have had a topsy-turvy start to their campaign.
A win at home to Bremen on Week 1 was followed by an exit in the Champions League play-offs to Liverpool, though they showed great character to secure an away point at Bayer Leverkusen last week.
Last time the two sides met, Hoffenheim secured a 1-0 victory with Andrej Kramarić scoring the only goal. Can Hoffenheim make it two wins on the spin against Bayern or will the record champions get their vengeance in Sinsheim?
Last Time Out
Bayer Leverkusen 2-2 Hoffenheim
After succumbing to a Champions League exit to Liverpool, Hoffenheim faced a tough task at Bayer Leverkusen.
The pressure rose as the hosts struck first when Ermin Bičakčić fouled Julian Brandt in the area after 32 minutes, with Wendell converting the penalty. Hoffenheim levelled the scores just after the break thanks to Andrej Kramarić, last season’s scorer against Bayern.
However, the scores stayed level for less than two minutes as Admir Mehmedi played in Karim Bellarabi to beat Oliver Baumann to his right.
However, Hoffenheim were determined not to leave empty-handed and ensured this wasn’t the case in the 70th minute after Mark Uth’s shot rattled the crossbar and dribbled into the back of the net.
Hoffenheim escaped with a point they didn’t deserve, but they all count the same.
Werder Bremen 0-2 Bayern Munich
With a win on the opening day against Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern faced a Werder Bremen side looking to secure their first win of the season.
Bayern looked dangerous early with multiple efforts on the Bremen goal though nothing was forthcoming as the sides entered the break level.
Bayern’s opener didn’t arrive until the 72nd minute, as tension rose, but Robert Lewandowski settled all nerves and opened the scoring, assisted by Kingsley Coman.
Three minutes later, Bayern secured all three points as Lewandowski doubled his tally, placing the ball through the legs of Jiri Pavlenka.
Julian Nagelsmann will make changes to the side that secured a point at Leverkusen last time out. First, Hoffenheim will return to the 3-5-2 formation with Kevin Vogt moving back to central defence.
Lukas Rupp will be dropped to the bench and Jeremy Toljan has left for Borussia Dortmund.
Pavel Kaderabek and Kerem Demirbay will come back into the starting XI, whilst Florian Grillitsch will make his first start since joining from Bremen. Serge Gnabry is out with injury.
Bayern Munich Lineup
Mixed news out of the international break on the injury front as they will miss the services of David Alaba due to an ankle injury he sustained in Austria’s 1-1 draw with Georgia in midweek.
However, James Rodriguez made his return with Colombia in their 1-1 draw at home to Brazil and will take his place on the bench.
There’s also a good chance we see both Sebastian Rudy and Niklas Süle start against their former club.
Key Battle: Kerem Demirbay vs Thiago
Two creative midfielders go head-to-head in Sinsheim on Saturday night in Kerem Demirbay and Thiago Alcantara.
Demirbay’s rise has been linked to the rise of Hoffenheim the club and with the departure of Sebastian Rudy, the 24-year-old Germany international has had to shoulder more of the responsibilities in midfield this season.
We expect Florian Grillitsch to start for Hoffenheim, which will allow Demirbay more opportunities to go forward, a must for Julian Nagelsmann’s side.
Thiago himself is coming back from injury but started against Bremen in the 2-0 win in Week 2.
The Spaniard excelled last season under Carlo Ancelotti, playing the football Bayern expected when they paid the €25 million for his services from Barcelona in 2013. It was a career-best year for Thiago with six goals and five assists.
He is yet to get off the mark this season, but with an already firing Robert Lewandowski up front, it’s only a matter of time before Thiago fuels the well-oiled Bayern machine.
The need to score first
Bayern are yet to face any adversity this season and to see what they are really made of, Hoffenheim would do themselves a big service by hitting the offensive early.
So far, Bayern have 3-1 and 2-0 victories, taking 72 minutes to break down the back five of Werder Bremen in the latter of the two games.
Hoffenheim know Bayern will stay patient and stick to the course, but if they can make the breakthrough, Bayern will have a tougher time breaking down a far stronger defensive unit than last week’s opponent.
What to do with Müller
There has been plenty of news about the fractured relationship between manager Carlo Ancelotti and Thomas Müller.
If body language was to go by, Müller was none too pleased about being left out of the starting XI, with Ancelotti opting to play Thiago behind Robert Lewandowski.
If this is a sign for the future, will Thomas Müller buy into Ancelotti and Bayern Munich’s plans or seek an exit?
PREDICTION: Hoffenheim 1-2 Bayern Munich
The top match of the round will be an absolute must-watch contest as two of the best sides in the Bundesliga face-off.
I expect Hoffenheim to have plenty of possession, meaning we see a shift in style by Bayern Munich, but as has been the case in their season opener and Champions League play-off matches, their inability to convert chances will come to haunt them.
Bayern will create plenty and look for Robert Lewandowski to be the man that secures the points for the Bavarians.
Will Bayern Munich remain perfect or will Hoffenheim spoil their visit to Sinsheim? Let us know in the comments section below.
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