Sinsheim - Bundesliga leaders FC Bayern München could set a new club record if they avoid defeat against 1899 Hoffenheim at the Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 15:30 CET).
‘Three points more important’
Pep Guardiola’s team equalled their longest ever unbeaten start to a Bundesliga campaign with victory over Hertha Berlin last time out and can go one better with a draw or a win against Markus Gisdol’s side on on Matchday 11.
As if that wasn't enough, the Bavarians could also equal Hamburger SV’s record of 36 unbeaten Bundesliga games in a row set during the 1981/82 and 1982/83 seasons. “It’s a great opportunity for this great, great club,” said Guardiola during his pre-match press conference. “But in order for that to happen, we need to play a good game. It’s good for the club but, for the team, winning the match is most important.”
One player who is particularly looking forward to the trip to Sinsheim is David Alaba. The 21-year-old, who was named Austria’s Sportsman of the Year on Thursday evening, made 17 appearances for Hoffenheim during a loan spell 2010/11. “I had a great time in Hoffenheim, even if it was very short,” he said. “I’m looking forward to going back there. It won’t be an easy game. They’re playing good football this season.”
Kroos and Robben doubtful
Javi Martinez could return to the starting line-up in Sinsheim after making his long-awaited comeback from injury against Hertha Berlin, while Dante may also feature after returning to training on Wednesday. However, there are doubts over the fitness of Toni Kroos and Arjen Robben: “Kroos is a little bit better than Arjen,” said Guardiola. “I’m happy it’s not a huge problem. If they aren’t fit for tomorrow, they’ll be back for Tuesday.”
The hosts are contending with a few injury problems of their own, as Eugen Polanski, Fabian Johnson, Tobias Strobl and Kevin Volland were all forced to train separately on Wednesday. “This kind of situation isn’t new to us,” said Gisdol. “We’ve often had to find solutions to injuries in recent weeks and will do the same this time,” he said. Meanwhile, Sejad Salihovic could keep his place at left-back after making his first appearance in that role at Hannover 96 last weekend.
Despite Hoffenheim's injury concerns, Gisdol is looking forward to welcoming the record title-holders to the Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena. “For us, this game is something special,” said the 44-year-old. “We want to do everything in our power to leave our mark on them.” Having scored more goals than any other Bundesliga side apart from Borussia Dortmund, it would seem Hoffenheim have every chance of doing just that.
Nonetheless, Gisdol is expecting a very difficult encounter: “When you play against Bayern, there will always be world class players on the pitch. It doesn’t really matter who Guardiola plays – they hardly ever lose the ball,“ Not that Gisdol is going into the match in anything other than a positive frame of mind: “What do we possibly have to lose? Nothing!”
Hoffenheim: Casteels - Beck, Abraham, Süle, Salihovic - Polanski, Strobl, Rudy - Volland, Roberto Firmino - Modeste
Bayern München: Neuer - Lahm, van Buyten, J. Boateng, Alaba - Javi Martinez - Robben, T. Müller, Schweinsteiger, Ribery - Mandzukic
Franck Ribery is now unbeaten in 39 Bundesliga matches. Take a closer look at the Frenchman's considerable talents in this video, exclusive to the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: