Preview: Bayern Munich vs. Hoffenheim

Preview: Bayern Munich vs. Hoffenheim

Bayern Munich take on Hoffenheim in a potentially pivotal encounter at both ends of the Bundesliga table on Saturday afternoon.

The hosts head into the clash two points clear of Borussia Dortmund at the summit, while Hoffenheim are five points clear of relegation danger.

Having been beaten 3-0 by Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final clash on Tuesday evening, Thomas Tuchel will be more determined than ever to ensure that Bayern hold off his former club Dortmund in this season’s thrilling title race.

The reigning champions – who are aiming to win the Bundesliga title for the 11th successive season – moved back above BVB at the top of the table by beating Edin Terzic’s side 4-2 in the latest rendition of Der Klassiker earlier this month, which was Tuchel’s first match in charge after replacing Julian Nagelsmann during the recent international break.

Matthijs de Ligt’s thumping strike handed the Bavarians a scrappy 1-0 win away to Champions League qualification hopefuls Freiburg last time out in the league, with Dortmund keeping hot on their heels by knocking another title contender out of the mix by dispatching Union Berlin 2-1.

Although Bayern were distinctly second best throughout most of their trip to Manchester to take on Pep Guardiola’s side in midweek – with goals from Rodri, Bernardo Silva and Erling Haaland putting the Premier League champions firmly in the driving seat ahead of next week’s reverse leg in Munich – Tuchel remained effusive in his praise for his players’ performance levels.

Whether this was an honest appraisal of his team or an attempt to keep spirits high having also recently seen their hopes of reclaiming the DFB-Pokal dashed by Freiburg is up for debate, but their destiny in the league is still clearly in their own hands, with six wins and one draw between now and the end of the campaign enough to see them crowned title winners once again.

Preview: Bayern vs. Hoffenheim – prediction, team news, lineups

Likewise, after enduring a winless streak of 14 league matches to fall to the bottom of the table last month, Hoffenheim have eased their relegation fears by winning three consecutive games in recent weeks.

Crucial home victories against relegation rivals Hertha Berlin and Schalke 04 sandwiched an impressive 2-1 win away to Werder Bremen, with Pellegrino Matarazzo finally implementing the style of football that made him such a popular figure at Stuttgart.

The 45-year-old replaced Sebastian Hoeness in Hoffenheim’s dugout in early February, losing his opening five games in charge before their recent turnaround, with Schalke boss Thomas Reis admitting his side were comfortably second best throughout their 2-0 defeat at Rhein-Neckar-Arena on Sunday.

Still, Matarazzo will point to plenty of areas for improvement given that his team’s victory came via Alex Kral’s own goal and Ihlas Bebou’s own goal, but with Andrej Kramaric scoring three goals in two matches prior to their most recent win, they clearly possess enough firepower to remain out of trouble.

Whether they will be able to trouble Bayern at the Allianz Arena this weekend is another matter altogether, of course, but even with Hertha and Schalke facing each other on Friday evening – and therefore guaranteed to close the gap one way or another – Matarazzo’s side have provided themselves with some breathing space ahead of the closing weeks of the campaign.

Bayern Munich Bundesliga form:

Bayern Munich form (all competitions):

Hoffenheim Bundesliga form:

We say: Bayern Munich 3-1 Hoffenheim
Bayern must wish they were instead facing Hoffenheim this time last month, when their forthcoming opponents had collected only two points from 14 matches, stretching back to a 2-0 defeat to the Bavarians in October.

However, while Matarazzo’s side’s improved form undoubtedly makes them tricky opposition, Tuchel’s side should possess more than enough quality to keep them at arm’s length for the most part and remain top of the table with a win.

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