Bayern Munich will kick off the second half of the 2023-24 Bundesliga season with a heavy heart. Club legend Franz Beckenbauer, who helped lead the club to global glory, passed away this week at the age of 78.
Beckenbauer won four Bundesliga titles and four European Cups as a player in the 1970s, and then went on to manage his hometown club to the Bundesliga title in 1994 and the UEFA Cup in 1996. He also led Germany to World Cup titles in 1974 and 1990, making him one of three people to have won the tournament as both a player and a manager.
The hosts are already on 38 points this season, making them the best second-place team after 16 games in Bundesliga history, just behind Bayer Leverkusen. There’s good reason to believe they could still close the gap at the top of the table, as Bayern is the only team in the league to have won its last five home matches, and they have an excellent home record (11 wins, 3 draws, 1 loss).
Hoffenheim visitors will arrive at the Allianz Arena hoping to cause an upset, with manager Pellegrino Mattarazzo looking to extend his personal unbeaten record in this fixture (3 draws). His team has already secured the most away wins (5) and points (16) at this stage of a Bundesliga campaign in the club’s history, which can only boost confidence.
After a strong start to the season with six wins in their opening nine league matches, Hoffenheim endured a difficult period before the winter break, with just one win in seven matches. Despite that, “Die Kraichgauer” remain in contention for European qualification this year, but they will need to improve their record of just one clean sheet in 16 Bundesliga attempts if they want to get an unlikely positive result.
Players to watch: Manuel Neuer is just one appearance away from 500 matches for Bayern and will be looking to improve his record of just two clean sheets in his last 11 meetings with Hoffenheim. For Hoffenheim, Maximilian Beier, the club’s joint-top scorer (6), has not found the net in his last seven Bundesliga matches.
Hot stat: Bayern has scored at least once in 42 consecutive Bundesliga matches, while Hoffenheim has done so in its last 20 outings, the two longest scoring streaks in the competition.