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Bundesliga Matchday 18
PreZero Arena, Sinsheim
  • 59' Nico Schulz
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
1 : 3
FC Bayern Munich
  • 34' Leon Goretzka
  • 45'+1 Leon Goretzka
  • 87' Robert Lewandowski
  • 59' Nico Schulz
  • 34' Leon Goretzka
  • 45'+1 Leon Goretzka
  • 87' Robert Lewandowski
'We want to and have to win'

Highly motivated Bayern aim to resume with win

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Four weeks after Bayern's last match, a 3-0 victory away to Frankfurt, the Bundesliga action returns. FC Bayern travel to face TSG Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga reopener (live in English from 20.30 CET on our exclusive ticker), looking to cut the gap to league leaders Borussia Dortmund. "I see my lads want to take on the chase," Niko Kovac said ahead of the first competitive fixture in 2019.

The German record champions are six points short of the Ruhr valley outfit, who travel to face RB Leipzig, lying fourth in the table, in Saturday evening's top match. A victory over TSG would mean more pressure for Borussia. "We want to and have to win the match to up the pressure against Dortmund," Kovac stressed.

But the 47-year-old knows the first match after the winter break is always special. "You never know how you'll start, where you are. As at the beginning of the season, you hope to start with a very good result. We need that, and we all know it," said the Bayern coach. Thomas Müller added: "We worked well at the training camp. We're highly motivated, and we want to get off to a good start to the second half of the season of course."

Hoffenheim refuse to 'run up the white flag'

However, a difficult task awaits the Bavarians. "We know very well they're an outstandingly strong team with a great coach, they'll surely make life very difficult for us," Kovac said. Hoffenheim had put up a good fight in Bayern's 3-1 victory in the first half of the season. "So it won't be an easy match on Friday, quite the contrary, it'll be a very, very difficult match."

After six draws in a row, the side lying seventh in the table aim to progress to the Champions League qualifying spots in the second half. "I think a victory would establish a good flow," said Nagelsmann ahead of his 100th Bundesliga match as a coach. He boasts a flawless home record against FC Bayern, two wins in two matches, and aims to build on that on Friday: "It's important not to run up the white flag when the red bus arrives."

Nagelsmann, who was temporarily without a dozen of his players in the first half of the season, has to make do without Ermin Bikakcic, Lukas Rupp and Havard Nordtveit. "Bayern are under a certain amount of pressure on Friday. If they don't win the match it's a signal for the other teams at the top," said Nagelsmann, who announced: "It'll be another tough battle. We'll put up a fight with everything we've got."