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Martínez back in the squad

Bayern have 'tough task in front of them' at Hoffenheim

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The games are coming thick and fast. Just four days after their impressive 3-0 win at Chelsea in the Champions League round of 16, FC Bayern travel to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on Saturday afternoon (live ticker from 15:30 CET on fcbayern.com). It will be another tough assignment based on the previous two meetings with TSG this season – FCB lost 2-1 at the Allianz Arena on Matchday 7 but gained revenge a few weeks ago with a 4-3 victory in the last 16 of the DFB Cup. fcbayern.com has all the key info on the Matchday 24 clash.

The situation

Tuesday’s success at Stamford Bridge maintained Bayern’s excellent form. Hansi Flick’s men have won eight of their last nine league matches, drawing 0-0 with RB Leipzig in the other one. That’s left them a point ahead of the Saxony club in the table, where they’ll of course be hoping to stay with three more points at Hoffenheim.

Spirits were high in training on Thursday following the win in London:

The opposition

Hoffenheim currently occupy eighth place, with the European places in their sights. The Kraichgauer claimed a 1-1 draw at Mönchengladbach last weekend after back-to-back defeats, but they’re nevertheless going into the game in bullish mood. “Bayern are in impressive form again but we have no fear. We have to be brave going forward and take our chances,” said captain Benjamin Hübner.

Bayern made hard work of the cup clash on 5 February. Having led 4-1 at one point, Hoffenheim clawed two goals back late on but the Munich men held on to reach the next round. Bayern's goals came from Robert Lewandowski (2), Thomas Müller and a Hübner own goal.

The team news

The win over Chelsea came at a heavy cost to Bayern. Robert Lewandowski has been ruled out for around four weeks after suffering a fracture in his left knee joint, while Kingsley Coman limped off with a strain and will also miss this match. “We’ll certainly cope with it,” stated head coach Hansi Flick in Friday’s press conference. “Serge Gnabry is an option, Thomas Müller can also play there. Joshua Zirkzee is another one and every player will be factored into the considerations. We’re leaving it open until tomorrow.”

Long-term absentees Ivan Perišić and Niklas Süle remain sidelined but Javi Martínez has travelled to Sinsheim and is set to return to the squad. Flick also revealed that Philippe Coutinho will start.

Hoffenheim have injury worries of their own, particularly in attack. Coach Alfred Schreuder is without the match-winner from the reverse fixture Sargis Adamyan (ankle surgery) along with Munas Dabbur (knee tendon), who scored a brace in the cup game, and Ishak Belfodil (cruciate ligament). In their place, Andrej Kramarić could return to the side after a groin problem. “Andrej passed a fitness test on Wednesday and is fit. He’ll rejoin training on Thursday,” explained Schreuder.

What the coaches say

Hansi Flick: “We had a brilliant game at Chelsea and now we have the next tough task in front of us at Hoffenheim. We’re also two important players down. It’s crucial that we pull together as a team. My players know what’s required.”

Alfred Schreuder (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim): “We know how strong Bayern are but we also know how we’ve done against them already this season. We’ve scored five goals in two games.”

Top fact

Serge Gnabry is enjoying statistically the best Bundesliga season of his career. The 24-year-old has been involved in no fewer than 18 goals in 21 games, scoring 10 himself and setting up a teammate on eight occasions. The Germany international, who netted 10 goals in 26 appearances while on loan at Hoffenheim in the 2017/18 campaign, will be hoping to add to his tally against his former side. Gnabry also bagged another brace and assist against Chelsea in midweek.

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