FC Bayern lost Tuesday evening's top-of-the-table clash 1-0 away to Hoffenheim, Andrej Kramaric scoring what proved to be the match-winner midway through the first half. Bayern were denied by the woodwork before half-time and were utterly dominant in the second half, but lacked the cutting edge in search of an equaliser.
The German record champions started with Sven Ulreich between the sticks and Rafinha, Javi Martínez, Mats Hummels and David Alaba in a back four. Xabi Alonso directed operations in front of the rearguard and behind Renato Sanches and Arturo Vidal, with an attacking trident featuring Arjen Robben, Kingsley Coman and Robert Lewandowski. Carlo Ancelotti comprehensively shuffled his deck, making seven changes to the team that handed a sound thrashing to Augsburg on Saturday, the only survivors being Ulreich, Hummels, Coman and Lewandowski.
Away blues for off-colour Reds
Hoffenheim boss Julian Nagelsmann said in the build-up his team would aim to be in control and attack, and when match official Sascha Stegemann whistled play underway the hosts lived up to these words in style, creating three chances in the first ten minutes. Barely 100 seconds had been played when Kerem Demirbay set up a galloping Kramaric in the box, and Bayern had to thank Rafinha for a fine and crucial tackle.
Three minutes later the second attack was stifled by stray passing, and Nadiem Amiri's effort to cap the third skidded just wide of the far post. It first seemed Bayern had survived the early spell of Hoffenheim pressure, Lewandowski seeing an effort blocked and Vidal miscuing an acrobatic volley, but Nagelsmann's troops soon opened the scoring in a high-octane first half, Kramaric' 20-yarder crashing into the net via Ulreich's fingertips.
The champions got a grip on the contest now, but failed to create anything of attacking note against the hosts, who stubbornly neutralised Munich's attacking potential, pressing high up the field and excelling with quick and intelligent vertical play. Ulreich performed miracles to deny Demirbay before Ancelotti's men had their best chance with the half-time whistle imminent, Coman charging down the left and cutting inside to find Lewandowski, who saw his effort denied by the crossbar. Bayern clearly dominate possession in almost all of their matches, and while Hoffenheim came close, the away side had 53 percent of the ball in the first half and boasted more tackles won, but the lead was Hoffenheim's.
Bayern fail to earn reward
The contest changed radically after half-time. Bayern did not only look for the equaliser after the restart - the men in red seemed mortally offended by the idea of losing. Hoffenheim netminder Oliver Baumann preserved the lead with a fine save to deny a Lewandowski 20-yarder, Coman beat Baumann but aimed too far to the left, and Lewandowski and Hummels saw more efforts blocked by Hoffenheim defenders. Apart from two half-chances following counterattacks for the home side, it was one-way traffic with Bayern in the driving seat, going full throttle.
Ancelotti played his first card with 20 minutes to go, bringing on Ribéry for Sanches in an effort to make the dominance count before Bernat replaced Alaba. Ancelotti's troops upped the ante even more as their superior fitness began to tell in the closing stages, but Baumann was not to be overcome on the night, the Hoffenheim number one saving from Bernat, Hummels and Lewandowski, securing Hoffenheim's first-ever victory over the German record champions.
The result means Bayern have 65 points from 27 matches, 13 clear of RB Leipzig overnight. While Tuesday's defeat may be seen as a set-back in a busy April packed with do-or-die encounters, another perspective is that the Bavarians will have opportunities galore to atone for the loss. The Reds are in for two heavyweight clashes in the next eight days alone, entertaining Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga Klassiker on Saturday before crossing swords with Real Madrid in a mouth-watering Champions League quarter-final first leg at the Allianz Arena.
Live match report for fcbayern.com by Greg Salmen
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - FC Bayern 1-0 (H-T: 1-0)
|TSG 1899 Hoffenheim||
Baumann - Toljan, Süle, Vogt, Hübner, Zuber - Demirbay (Schwegler 62), Rudy (Terrazzino 75) - Kramaric, Amiri - Wagner (Szalai 62)
Stolz, Uth, Bicakcic, Terrazzino, Polanski
Ulreich - Rafinha, Martínez, Hummels, Alaba (Bernat 75) - Sanches (Ribéry 72), Alonso - Vidal - Robben, Lewandowski, Coman
Starke, Lahm, Boateng, F. Götze, Kimmich
Sascha Stegemann (Niederkassel)
1-0 Kramaric (21)
- / Lewandowski