MUNICH, September 19- Bayern Munich travel to a Hamburg side under new management this weekend still finding their way after changing tactics mid-way through their midweek Champions League win over Manchester City.
Munich boss Pep Guardiola switched from a 3-4-1-2 system to a 4-1-2-3 in the middle of their victory over City, and the moved paid off as Bayern played one of their strongest matches of the season, culminating in Jerome Boateng’s winner in the 90th minute.
“We presented ourselves as a unit,” said sports director Matthias Sammer.
Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge added: “That was the best match we have played so far this season.”
“We had problems controlling the ball, that’s why we changed from a three-man backline to a four-man,” said Guardiola, who would not say which system he would use against Hamburg on Saturday.
Missing from the City game was Franck Ribery, who will sit out the Hamburg contest as well.
“I don’t know how long I will miss,” said the Frenchman, who is dealing with a knee issue.
Last-placed Hamburg have their own issues, though the northern Germans hope to have resolved some of them with the sacking of Mirko Slomka after one point and zero goals scored through three matches.
The new man is former Hamburg Under-23 team boss Josef Zinnbauer.
Things don’t start too easily for Zinnbauer with Bayern, who he calls “the best team in the world”. But Hamburg also have nothing to lose.
“The result is irrelevant. There is no other team who can dominate like Bayern. What is important to me is that we give a good account of ourselves and play as a unit,” said Zinnbauer.
Leaders Bayer Leverkusen look to continue their roll as they travel Sunday to VfL Wolfsburg, who haven’t won this season and have conceded at least one goal in their last 17 matches.
Leverkusen are the top scoring team in the league with nine goals in three games – and they will be intent on bouncing back after a 1-0 Champions League loss in Monaco.
Two teams hoping their home fans can help them finally get a victory this season are Schalke 04 and VfB Stuttgart, who host on Saturday Eintracht Frankfurt and Hoffenheim, respectively, both with just one point and in the relegation spots with Hamburg.
“We have to stop giving up so many goals. It’s about time. It’s getting on my nerves,” said Schalke striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar of the team’s 3-7 goal differential.
Stuttgart have scored just one goal up to now and the team’s top players are starting to be called into question, including striker Vedad Ibisevic, who hasn’t scored in his last nine matches dating back to last season.
According to the early season table, the best match-up will be promoted side SC Paderborn hosting Hanover in a Saturday battle of fifth v third.
Paderborn haven’t lost this season and have kept a clean sheet the last two matches.
The other promoted side Cologne haven’t conceded a goal and host Borussia Moenchengladbach as the historical local rivalry is renewed Sunday evening.
The match-day kicks off Friday night with SC Freiburg hosting Hertha Berlin while FC Augsburg welcome Werder Bremen; and Borussia Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp returns to his former stomping grounds
Mainz 05 in Saturday’s evening match.
SC Freiburg v Hertha Berlin
Schalke 04 v Eintracht Frankfurt
FC Augsburg v Werder Bremen
VfB Stuttgart v Hoffenheim
Hamburg v Bayern Munich
SC Paderborn v Hanover
Mainz 05 v Borussia Dortmund
VfL Wolfsburg v Bayern Leverkusen
FC Cologne v Borussia Moenchengladbach