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First v third

Reds fired up for Hoffenheim clash

The final fixture of the traditionally busy autumn period represents yet another big challenge for FC Bayern as high-flying TSG Hoffenheim visit the Allianz Arena on Saturday (Live in English from 15:30 CET on our Live Ticker and FCBayern.tv Web Radio). The men from the south-west are currently third in the Bundesliga standings with 19 points from nine games, only four points adrift of leaders Munich.

"They've done very well so far," acknowledged Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti. Hoffenheim have won their last five fixtures and come to Munich "with a lot of confidence," Ancelotti continued. "It's an important game, a top match." A win would definitely keep FCB in top spot heading into the two-week international break, before the next explosive Bundesliga showdown away to Borussia Dortmund.

"We need to be in peak condition because it's not easy against Hoffenheim," Ancelotti advised. Together with FC Bayern and promoted RB Leipzig, the men from the Kraichgau region are the only team yet to lose in the league this term. "They've played good football, they're well organised, and they have lots of intensity and pace," Ancelotti commented approvingly. Mats Hummels agreed: "They're a good team with plenty of individual qualiy. It's an exciting challenge."

Ribéry not match fit

However, Hoffenheim have traditionally struggled at the Allianz Arena, taking a solitary point from seven trips to Munich and conceding no fewer than 26 goals. Moreover, Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski is back to his deadliest best with four goals in the last two games. The Pole has already put a dozen career goals past TSG keeper Oliver Baumann.

In terms of Ancelotti's line-up, only Javi Martínez and Franck Ribéry definitely miss out. The Spaniard is still sidelined with a torn hamstring, and although Ribéry resumed squad training on Thursday, he is not yet match fit. "All the other players are ready and in good shape," announced Ancelotti, who is again obliged to make some tough selection decisions. "Picking the team isn't easy. Two players willl have to watch from the stands."

Hoffenheim and coach Julian Nagelsmann are still without long-term absentees Pirmin Schwegler (knee) and Mark Uth (thigh), but the mood in the TSG camp is upbeat and positive. "It's a top match because we've worked hard and made it one," commented Nagelsmann, who firmly believes his team could come away with at least a point: "If we have a good day and Bayern don't, we could get something, even in Munich.“