From the Champions League to the Kraichgau

FC Bayern Munich produced an impressive performance as they dismantled RB Salzburg 7-1 (4-0) in the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday evening. The German record champions will now be looking to build on that in the Bundesliga. But dominant league wins have been few and far between for the Bavarians recently. has taken a look at Julian Nagelsmann's team in the run-up to Saturday's clash at the PreZero Arena (15:30 CET / Live Ticker at

The pre-match stats make for unusual reading. As TSG prepare to welcome FC Bayern, it is the home side who are in the stronger form over the last four rounds. Hoffenheim have taken 12 points out of a possible 12 a flawless record that would not look out of place if it instead belonged to the Munich giants. But the team coached by Julian Nagelsmann, who made his breakthrough in the dugout in Hoffenheim, have recently been lacking the supremacy that is etched into their DNA. A 4-2 defeat in Bochum has been followed by two rather laborious wins over Fürth (4-1) and Frankfurt (1-0), and a 1-1 draw against Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Seven points from four games, fourth in the form table since the winter break it's a poor return by Bayern's standards, but it hasn't influenced their position as runaway league leaders one iota: FCB are nine points ahead of BVB, who still have a game in hand.

The recent league results of both the champions and their next opponents from Sinsheim, currently labelled the "team of the moment" by many media outlets, certainly suggest in the run-up to the clash on Saturday (15:30 CET) that the supposedly superior team are not infallible. But Bayern are not lacking in self-confidence that much is clear. Their European masterclass, featuring a Robert Lewandowski hat-trick, came at the right time - as a statement by Thomas Müller after the game illustrated: "Sometimes we have to be careful not to let ourselves get pulled down too far and not to let the wagging finger of criticism into the dressing room too much." 

But that wagging finger has now been banished from the hallowed halls for the time being thanks to a commanding victory. Lewandowski made the decisive contribution with another international masterclass. Three goals, a hat-trick in the space of 10 minutes and 22 seconds FC Bayern need not worry about the attacker's form. "Lewandowski does it by himself! The Polish striker scores a hat-trick to set up a win against Salzburg that takes Bayern into the quarter-finals and sends a frightening message," praised the Spanish sports paper "As". England's "The Sun" added: "Robert Lewandowski fires fastest ever Champions League hat-trick as Bayern run riot against Salzburg."

Nagelsmann, too, was thoroughly satisfied with a game that could have seen the record champions' season implode prematurely. But once again, FC Bayern showed their strength when it mattered. "It was a very, very good performance," was the Bayern coach's verdict. He then went on to issue a statement that almost sounded like a warning to TSG: "You've seen that when we have this desire and energy, it's hard to stop us."

But the 34-year-old is also aware of Hoffenheim's strengths. Partly because he has coached a large number of the TSG players himself and enjoyed some special successes with them; and partly because the last meeting between the two teams in Sinsheim was a debacle for FC Bayern, who lost 4-1 to a Hoffenheim side now led by former Bayern U23 coach Sebastian Hoeness.

TSG would like to repeat this success on Saturday afternoon and step up their hunt for a European place. Excitement is in the air. And the omens are good as well: the Bundesliga's match of the round between the sides in first and fourth will be played in the prime-time slot and will be witnessed by more spectators than any other match at the PreZero Arena since 29 February 2020, when TSG hosted FC Bayern in their final home game before the corona outbreak...

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