Bayern Munich v Hoffenheim Preview

Bayern Munich v Hoffenheim

The new Bundesliga season kicks off on Friday, with Bayern Munich beginning their assault on seven straight domestic titles when they host Hoffenheim.

It will be a new era at Bayern and one that is something of a step into the unknown.

For the first time in a decade the reigning German champions are being led by a man who has never won a league title as a manager in his own career.

Niko Kovac was in charge of Eintracht Frankfurt last season and managed to win his first major honour in the game when they got the better of Bayern in the German Cup final with a 3-1 victory.

Born in Germany, Kovac played for and managed Croatia. He is stepping under the microscope of one the biggest jobs in world football and will, undoubtedly, be expected to retain the Bundesliga crown – Bayern are just 1.13 to win the league this season.

The German Super Cup was his first competitive game at the helm and his new side comprehensively dispatched his old one, Bayern beating Eintracht Frankfurt 5-0. He’s had just one further game since, a less than enthusing 1-0 win over fourth-tier Drochtersen/Assel in the first round of the German Cup.

Champions League-bound Hoffenheim will be no pushovers in this season-opener, despite Bayern being heavy favourites at 1.22 to win the game.

The visitors do have some injury worries, with Benjamin Hubner and Florian Grillitsch both rated as major doubts, ensuring new signing Kasim Adams is likely to make his debut at centre-back.

The new Bayern boss must find the right balance in his team.

He has young talents like Corentin Tolisso, Leon Goretzka, Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry eager to establish themselves in the first-team picture. But also established stars like Thomas Muller, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery that will want to be front and centre.

At Frankfurt last season, wing-backs were the weapon of choice for Kovac but, in his first game charge of Bayern, he reverted to the tried and trusted Jupp Heynckes 4-2-3-1 set-up. Will he defer to this formation once more given a tough opening mission, or begin to make his own mark?

Hoffenheim ended last term with just a single defeat in their last 11 Bundesliga matches. They also managed to score at least two goals in eight of their final ten games.

They’ve also got an excellent record against Bayern, with two wins, two losses and one draw from the previous five Bundesliga meetings (both wins came at home).

There will be plenty eyes on the visitors during the opening weeks of the season, given the situation surrounding their manager. Julian Nagelsmann is one of Europe’s most promising coaches, but how will he fare this season, given it has been confirmed he’ll depart Hoffenheim for rivals Leipzig when this campaign ends.

It could be a factor that disturbs the equilibrium of the dressing room, but only time will tell.

When these teams last collided in the Allianz Arena it was the visitors that shot into an early two-goal lead, the aforementioned Gnabry getting on the scoresheet for the visitors while on loan from Bayern.

Robert Lewandowski and Jerome Boateng had the hosts level by half-time and Bayern stamped their authority on the second period, running out 5-2 winners. With seven goals in that game, some punters might be tempted by odds 5.25 on over 5.5 goals being scored in their tussle.

With a new manager in one dugout, and a boss opposite him that has already consented to leave his post, this could be a tough game to call. Bayern have the quality though and should get the job done. They are fair odds at 11.25 to win the game 3-1.