Bayern remain on course for memorable season


Hamburg are the visitors to Allianz Arena in the league on Saturday, March 10, before Bayern head to Turkey to defend a 5-0 lead against Besiktas in Europe’s top club competition.

The reigning champions have once again dominated the Bundesliga and they look like clinching their sixth title in a row some time before the end of March.

Bayern’s 4-0 victory over Freiburg took them 20 points ahead of second-placed Schalke and they require just eight points from their remaining nine games to clinch top spot again. Most projection sites are 99% sure that FCB will win the Bundesliga and the runaway leaders could claim the title at the end of the month when they host Borussia Dortmund.

The general feel is also reflected in the odds German bookmakers are offering punters. Bayern are priced at 1/7 to beat Hamburg, with the visitors available at 14/1. The draw is on offer at 15/2.

Bayern have dominated Hamburg in recent years, winning 16 and drawing three of their last 19 meetings in all competitions. It’s easy to see why bookies are favouring the team from München. 

With just three goals conceded in their last 10 matches against die Rothosen, Bayern look an excellent bet at 4/6 to win to nil this time around.

Jupp Heynckes’ side are unbeaten at home this season, winning 10 and drawing two of their 12 games, and it’s difficult to imagine Hamburg causing them too many problems. 

“thanks for nothing, YOU MERCENERARIES”

Munich have conceded just nine league goals at home this season and Hamburg’s tally of eight away goals is the worst in the Bundesliga. They are once again struggling at the wrong end of the table having narrowly avoided relegation last season.

The club sacked head coach Markus Gisdol after a 2-0 loss against Cologne back in January, but replacement Bernd Hollerbach has failed to spark a revival.

Hollerbach, who played almost 200 games for the club between 1996 and 2004, was previously a coach at Wolfsburg and Schalke under Felix Magath. 

Hamburg have gone 12 league games without a win and they seem destined for a first-ever Bundesliga 2 campaign in 2018/19. The former northern giants also have the fewest open play goals with just nine on the year, and have of course scored a league-worst 18 total goals. 

They were woefully unlucky against fellow strugglers Mainz at the weekend, missing a penalty and failing to beat debutant goalkeeper Florian Müller despite playing against 10 men for the last half an hour.

Hollerbach’s side haven’t scored more than once in a match since November and their trip to face the reigning champions is unlikely to be an enjoyable experience.

The 48-year-old will be eager to avoid a repeat of their last visit to the Allianz Arena that saw Bayern romp to an 8-0 victory.

That result took Bayern’s tally to 44 goals in their last seven home fixtures against Hamburg – an average of over six per game. Look for newly-extended Joshua Kimmich to return to the starting lineup, alongside Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller, while Sandro Wagner could also get some substitute minutes. 

Bayern follow up the Hamburg fixture with a relatively comfortable-looking trip to Turkey to face Besiktas in the Champions League on Wednesday, March 14.

The German champions seem sure to claim their place League quarter-finals after securing a 5-0 victory in the first leg in Germany and Heynckes could rest a few key players for the return leg. Alongside the longtime injury of Manuel Neuer, Kingsley Coman, who required ankle surgery after the Hertha match is still out. James Rodríguez is back in training, but there is no point in risking him, and it’s also likely that Franck Ribéry (recovering from a stomach illness) and/or Arjen Robben will not play the full 90. Juan Bernat could once again feature in an advanced role, with Sebastian Rudy and Corentin Tolisso also in contention for midfield minutes.

The hosts are unbeaten in six Champions League games at home over the past two seasons and the 7/2 on offer for a draw looks a decent price.

The 16th-minute dismissal of defender Domagoj Vida cost Besiktas dearly in the first leg and they were lucky to go in just one behind at the break.

A four-goal blitz in the second half made the reverse fixture a formality and Bayern look a team to avoid in the last eight.

No club has ever manager to recover from a five goal first leg deficit in European competitions. Barcelona hold the record in the Champions League, recovering from a 4-0 away loss to Paris Saint-Germain with a 6-1 home victory in last season’s round of 16.

Besiktas certainly don’t have Barca’s quality and it’s difficult to imagine them coming back in this tie.

The two sides last met in the 1997/98 group stage, with both games finishing 2-0 to Bayern. The German side are priced at 17/2 to match that scoreline this time around.

Besiktas have won only five of the 22 UEFA competition ties in which they lost the away first leg, most recently against Liverpool in the last 32 of the Europa League in 2014/15.

Bayern haven’t lost at this stage of the competition since an away goals defeat against Inter Milan in 2010/11. They defeated Arsenal 10-2 on aggregate at the same stage last season and have now scored 28 goals in their last six round of 16 matches.

The German side were beaten 6-3 on aggregate by Real Madrid in last season’s quarter-finals, but they had reached at least the last four in the five previous years.

This year’s competition looks particularly strong, with the likes of Manchester City and Barcelona alongside Bayern at the head of the betting market.

They are priced at 5/1 to win the Champions League, but they will be eager to avoid some of the bigger clubs in the quarter-finals.

Liverpool and Manchester United also look well-placed to progress to the last eight and Bayern will be eyeing the winners of the Roma versus Shakhtar Donetsk tie after Roma’s disappointing loss in the last-16 first leg as offering the most favourable route to the last four.

With a German Cup semi-final to look forward to against Bayer Leverkusen during April, this season could end up being a truly memorable one for Bayern.

Victory over Leverkusen would set up a final against either Schalke or Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayern would be strongly fancied to claim their fourth German Cup in six years.

Heynckes led Bayern to the treble in 2012/13 and the 72-year-old could be destined to repeat the trick this term, going out on top again!!!

Happy Jupp, Happy Bayern

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