Bayern look to equal record against emotional Hoffenheim

Posted by Susie Schaaf

Bayern Munich loses one match against a "lesser" opponent, and the club name changes from FCB directly back to the unfortunate "FC Hollywood" moniker. We do like our drama, don't we? Although this time, it came from the men in charge - not the ones on the field.

Matthias Sammer had criticized the 2-0 win over Werder Bremen, publicly berating the Reds, saying the team "showed no determination" and were "poor on the pitch". (I couldn't imagine what he said after the loss to BATE Borisov.)

Jupp Heynckes thought the critique was a bit harsh, considering the scoreline, saying “I did not agree with the tone of Sammer's criticism and with the way he went public with it, and I have told him how I feel about that. It is important that your criticism is constructive. It has to be valid and well-reasoned in order to help people. Criticism should not be excessive and I believe that's the case here. He exaggerated."

Uli Hoeness had decided enough was enough (play nice or no Eis!), and shut the whole spat down stating, [The parties involved] "would be well-advised to keep their differences of opinion internal in the future." And adding on the BATE loss: "This is not a crippling blow. We still have our Champions League destiny in our own hands."

The man speaks the truth. Bayern lost a match they should have won, for sure. But, it's not even winter break yet. The high drama shouldn't be starting until they start throwing it all away. (Doubtful.)

But, despite losing to the Belorussians, die Roten is still chasing a Bundesliga record which they set, and Mainz equalled; winning the first seven fixtures. And they hope to accomplish that against a side in Hoffenheim, while starting out poorly (notably the shellacking they got in their Pokal opener against Berliner AK), has not lost their last three.

Bayern Munich probable starting XI: Neuer - Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Badstuber - Martinez, Schweinsteiger - Muller , Kroos , Shaqiri - Mandzukic.

I know everyone saw the pictures yesterday of David Alaba in team training, but, he was left off the matchday squad and was also not called up for Austria's fixtures. I would really like Contento to get a chance, but it doesn't look likely to happen here. At least not initally. I would love to see some defensive second-half replacements, though, as the back four could use a little break.

Luis Gustavo and Javi Martinez didn't play so well together against BATE, so I think Bastian will start over the Brazilian. Arjen Robben is out for this match as well as his Holland fixtures, and Franck Ribery is doubtful for this one with a tight calf. No sense in risking him when Xherdan Shaqiri is waiting in the wings.

1899 Hoffenheim probable starting XI: Casteels - Bec , Delpierre, Compper, Johnson - Williams, Rudy - Volland, Firmino , Usami - Joselu.

Markus Babbel has a few injury woes to contend with, most notably the horrific car crash sustained by winger Boris Vukcevic last week. He is currently critical, but stable, in a medically induced coma.

Starting 'keeper Tim Wiese is in light training and not match fit. Chris will also miss this one recovering from a muscle tear.

Sejad Salihovic is serving a four-match suspension following the midfielder's foul on Tobias Werner of Augsburg last Saturday.

There's some give-and-take between these two squads as Luis Gustavo, Tom Starke and David Alaba all played for Hoffenheim. Takashi Usami moved to the Baden-Wuerttemberg club after failing to make an impact with Bayern last season.

Markus Babbel spent 19 years in a Munich strip, making his debut under current Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes. As a manager, however, he has had little luck against his former side. Coaching for Stuttgart, Hertha Berlin and Hoffenheim he has lost four and drawn two.

Both squads will be looking to make their mark: Hoffenheim will be playing emotionally, with Boris ever on their mind. Meanwhile Munich is chasing a record for best Bundesliga start, eager to shut down any critics of their mid-week Champions League loss. It goes without saying that everyone wishes Vukcevic well, but when that whistle blows? It's all about the football.

You should follow Susie on Twitter @fussballsusie .

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