Bayern Munich have their eyes set on equalling a 30 year old record for the Bundesliga’s longest unbeaten run as they prepare to go to Hoffenheim on Saturday.
Following their treble-winning 2012-13 campaign in which they broke one record after another, the outgoing Jupp Heynckes appeared to have left his successor Pep Guardiola with a thankless task.
But Guardiola has picked up where Heynckes left off and has already equalled Bayern’s longest ever unbeaten start to a Bundesliga season, set in 1968/69.
As a result, the reigning champions are now undefeated in their domestic league in 35 games in over a year and a draw or a win at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena in Sinsheim on Saturday will see them match the previous best mark set by Hamburg between January 1982 and January 1983.
“Our target and ambition is to take all three points in Hoffenheim,” left-back David Alaba said this week.
“But obviously, we know Hoffenheim will make it as hard as they can for us in front of their home crowd. Hoffenheim are much stronger compared to last season and they’re playing well as a team.”
Games involving Hoffenheim have tended to be entertaining affairs this season, with Markus Gisdol’s side the joint-top scorers in the division alongside Borussia Dortmund.
And their last home game was the now infamous 2-1 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen a fortnight ago in which Stefan Kiessling’s ‘phantom goal’ ultimately proved to be the decisive counter.
Hoffenheim have since learned that the result of that match will stand, but their confidence was lifted by a 4-1 win at Hannover last week and Gisdol is looking forward to welcoming the champions.
“It’s a special game for us – for Bayern not so much,” said Gisdol this week, perhaps forgetting the record that is in sight for the visitors in Sinsheim.
Bayern have won eight and drawn two of their opening 10 games to sit a point clear of Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen at the top of the standings, and that trio have already opened up a gap on the pack below that looks unlikely to be closed again.
It has been an excellent last week for Dortmund, who followed up wins at Arsenal in the Champions League and at Schalke in the Ruhr derby with the announcement that sought-after coach Jurgen Klopp had extended his contract until the summer of 2018.
“We’re all so pleased that we can help this team, which is still a long way from reaching its peak, to develop. We want to shape the future of this wonderful club together,” Klopp told the Bundesliga’s official website.
On Friday, Dortmund entertain Stuttgart looking to beat the Swabians at home for the first time since September 2008.
Klopp – who was born in Stuttgart – knows to expect another tough test against a side who are unbeaten in seven league games since Thomas Schneider replaced Bruno Labbadia in the dugout.
“I assume it will be a closely fought game, but I also believe that we will win,” said Klopp, who could have Sebastian Kehl back after injury.
Like Bayern, Leverkusen have records in sight this weekend, as a win at struggling Eintracht Braunschweig will make this their best ever start to a season in 34 years in the Bundesliga.
Sami Hyypia’s side, who saw Germany midfielder Lars Bender sign a contract extension this week tying him to the club until 2019, should prove too strong for Braunschweig, who have won just once so far in what is their first top-flight campaign in more than quarter of a century.
In other games, Schalke warm up for their Champions League trip to face Chelsea by taking on fifth-place Hertha Berlin in the capital, and struggling duo Nuremberg and Freiburg are both still looking for their first win of the season as they meet in Franconia.