How Bayern Munich Will Line Up Against Hoffenheim

Stefan BienkowskiFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02: Mario Gotze of FC Bayern Muenchen in action during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Manchester City and  FC Bayern Muenchen at Etihad Stadium on October 2, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Saturday, Bayern continue their quest for Bundesliga silverware with a tricky trip to Hoffenheim, as coach Pep Guardiola hopes to pick up all three points and keep his side's spot in first place. 

Following an unprecedented ordeal against Hertha Berlin last week that saw the capital visitors go a goal up in the fourth minute and continue to threaten Bayern's dominance throughout the game, Guardiola will be utterly devoted to the concept of a resounding victory this weekend against Markus Gisdol's side. 

Yet Hoffenheim, like Hertha, are no pushovers and have seen a gradual increase in their fortunes this season with a solid start to the season. The hosts sit in ninth position at the moment with victories over Hamburg, Hannover and Gladbach already under their belt.

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With the injury to Guardiola's first-choice centre-back Dante still too serious to consider him for selection, the coach is likely to stick with the back line that caused all sorts of problems for his side last week.

Daniel Van Buyten should keep his spot alongside an out of form Jerome Boateng, while David Alaba and Rafinha take up the two full-back positions on the left and the right, respectively. 

If Guardiola is to make a few alterations to his back line, it'll be interesting to see which of the two central defenders he opts to remove.

Although Boateng is the younger and the better player, Van Buyten was a favoured asset of previous coach Jupp Heynckes for his experience and his ability to avoid sheer panic, and he may well suit the new coach at this moment in time. Don't be surprised if we see Jan Kirchhoff make an appearance in place of either of these two defenders. 

Injury is again the key term when we consider Bayern Munich's midfield.

Last week, we saw Toni Kroos and Arjen Robben both walk off the pitch with injuries within the first 25 minutes of the game, yet reports would suggest that both are now back to full match fitness. 

As such, it would be fair to suggest that Guardiola will stick with his usual midfield trio of Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Kroos. With the former full-back sitting in the defensive midfield role, Schweinsteiger as the central playmaker and Kroos pushing forward to support the lone striker.

Javi Martinez is finally back from injury and ready to play, yet it's still unclear as to how the Spaniard would fit into this new Bayern side since Lahm's introduction in midfield. 

Equally as confusing for most Bayern fans is where Mario Goetze fits into all of this. Guardiola has a system whereby the front three work as a functional unit, yet with the return of Goetze from injury, he now has five world-class players fighting for those three positions. 

Although we've opted for the standard lineup of Robben-Mandzukic-Ribery, it is quite likely that we'll see Thomas Mueller start on the right-hand side or indeed up front (although Guardiola will be wary of his poor performance in said position last week), with Goetze also more than possibly coming in on the right-hand side, too. 

Effectively, the only player in this front line who could feasibly call himself "undroppable" is Franck Ribery, and as such, he is the only player we can guarantee will be starting this coming Saturday.