Bayern Munich set for goals as they host relegation zoned Hamburg

HAMBURG, GERMANY - OCTOBER 21: Lewis Holtby (L) of Hamburg and Thiago (R) of Muenchen compete for the ball during the Bundesliga match between Hamburger SV and FC Bayern Muenchen at Volksparkstadion on October 21, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by Oliver Hardt/Bongarts/Getty Images)
HAMBURG, GERMANY - OCTOBER 21: Lewis Holtby (L) of Hamburg and Thiago (R) of Muenchen compete for the ball during the Bundesliga match between Hamburger SV and FC Bayern Muenchen at Volksparkstadion on October 21, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by Oliver Hardt/Bongarts/Getty Images) /

Matchday 26 of the Bundesliga sees Bayern Munich take on Hamburg, a team yet to win a game in 2018 who looks set to finally be relegated at the season’s end.

To say that recent fixtures between these two sides have largely favored Bayern Munich would be an understatement. Since the ’12-13 season, the overall scoreline is Bayern Munich 44 – Hamburg 5. If these past 12 fixtures are anything to go by, tomorrow is set to be a high scoring game.

After a disappointing 0-0 draw to Hertha Berlin, Bayern responded in great fashion by netting four goals against Freiburg. Goals from Thomas Müller, Corentin Tolisso and Sandro Wagner (as well as an own goal from the Freiburg keeper) were more than enough to get another three points and to show the rest of the Bundesliga that die Roten aren’t going anywhere. Very unfortunate timing if you’re a Hamburg fan.

Team News

This morning began with fine news, as Bayern officially announced a contract extension for Joshua Kimmich, keeping him at the club until 2023. Bayern’s right-back has been in excellent form this season in a relatively unfamiliar position, and to see him so willing to sign an extension is a great sight.

Further up the pitch, James Rodriguez returned to team training earlier this week after a calf problem. However, a return to the pitch tomorrow is still too early. Bayern’s squad is otherwise healthy, with only Manuel Neuer and Kingsley Coman missing with long-term injuries.

After he missed the match against Freiburg with a stomach bug, Franck Ribery’s return to the squad could see him feature. His performances this season have been shaky. However, a weakened opponent such as Hamburg could be what he needs to get out of bad form.

Elsewhere, Arjen Robben remained an unused substitute last weekend and is likely to play a part tomorrow. He has scored 11 times against Hamburg since arriving in the Bundesliga and with the possibility of an extension on the table, he will be surely looking to add to that tally.

Predicted XI

Last week’s rotated side showed that Bayern have excellent strength in depth and this will be another game to highlight it. To accommodate the variety in midfield options, Jupp Heynckes has begun to utilize a 4-1-4-1 that appears to bring out the best in the dynamic central players such as Arturo Vidal, James, Thiago and Tolisso. However, there is always a chance of Jupp bringing back ol’ faithful, choosing to line his players in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Sven Ulreich will be the keeper. An excellent save against Lucas Holer last week showed that his back-up title is strictly just a title and his abilities far exceed many of our expectations. The defense will most likely feature the newly extended Kimmich and Niklas Sule, who featured for the final 7 minutes last week. His partner will either be Mats Hummels or former Hamburg defender Jerome Boateng. As both of Bayern’s left-backs played last week, it will be interesting to see who starts. However, with his recent form improving, David Alaba has almost definitely got that position on lock.

Javi Martinez was an unused substitute last week, so he will presumably start in defensive-midfield along with Sebastian Rudy, who featured for the final 15 minutes against Freiburg. Given his man-of-the-match performance against Freiburg, Thomas Müller will probably be playing centrally, pushing forward to join the attack as a secondary striker. He will be flanked by Arjen Robben and one of Franck Ribery and Juan Bernat. Bernat’s performance was reasonable and showed great promise, a start is not completely out of the question.

Up front we will see Robert Lewandowski return. He has scored 13 goals against Hamburg, 8 of them in a Bayern shirt, and tomorrow he will be raring to go.

"UlreichKimmich – Boateng – Sule – AlabaRudy – MartinezRobben – Muller – BernatLewandowski"

Opposition focus

Almost a running joke in the Bundesliga, Hamburg will usually finish third from bottom and win the play-off match, thus remaining the longest running top flight team.

Hamburg do find themselves in the bottom three, as always. However, in a turn up for the books, they sit in 17th place, off of their usual 16th position by 7 points. A difficult situation to turn around, they still have to face Bayern Munich, Hertha Berlin, Schalke, Hoffenheim and Eintracht Frankfurt in this Bundesliga season. Their chances of staying up are thin but not completely impossible. They have nothing to lose and will surely go all out to ensure a draw at least.

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Most likely playing five at the back, their recent fixtures have mainly been narrow losses, and draws. 2-0 losses to Dortmund and Koln stand out as their “heaviest” defeats. Tough defending and a “we will not die” attitude could mean that this will be one of Bayern’s hardest games of the season.

If Bayern score first and score early, however, it will take a miracle to keep them from getting more.


Bayern Munich 6-0 Hamburg