Fight For European Football Next Season Continues As Niko Kovak Agrees 3-year Deal At Bayern

Pius Serugo

Pius Serugo

, Bundesliga, Sports

Bayern Munich finally announce Niko Kovac to replace Jupp Heynckes on a three-year deal effective 1st July.

The former Croatian footballer has been at Frankfurt since March 2016, and during his first season then, he helped the river Main side escape relegation before landing them DFB Cup final.

A new challenge awaits him and it remains to be seen if he will let Ribery and Robben extend their stay after being offered one-year extensions.

Ribery and Robben could stay for another year at the Allianz Arena if they agree to extend their contracts. Getty images.

The Bundesliga Champions have been drawn against Real Madrid in the semifinals of the Champions League and should they be victorious, the journey could get longer than seen from now for the Croatian.

The title was decided last week but the fight for next season’s European football still goes on with over nine teams still fighting for the remaining five slots.

Schalke 04 occupy second place but last weekend’s loss to relegation threatened Hamburger SV brought Borussia Dortmund closer to second place than they have ever been since coming of Peter Stoger.

And this weekend could decide second place especially after Schalke’s showdown with Dortmund on Sunday.

RB Leipzig suffered a humiliating 5-3 exit from the Europa League at the hands of French side, Olympique Marseille, and will now have a reduced game load. They should now put in a better fight to return to the Champions League after taking lessons from their first experience.

On another side, it’s ambition against survival as TSG 1899 Hoffenheim takes on Hamburger SV on Saturday afternoon.

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim takes on Hamburger SV Live on Sanyuka TV and Sports Focus – StarTimes.

Hamburger will need another masterclass over Hoffenheim if they are to survive relegation. Getty Images.

While Frankfurt prepare to face a wild 2018/19 season, TSG Hoffenheim are lucky Julian Nagelsmann will stay but that will be for another day.

Seventh placed TSG Hoffenheim will be looking to boost their hopes of European football next season when they host relegation threatened Hamburger SV in an Ambition v survival encounter.

Hoffenheim have not lost in six Bundesliga matches including a 6-0 win over Koln two weeks ago but were slowed down last week following a 1-1 draw away at Frankfurt.

While they continue to press for a place in the top six, they will be taking on a side that is struggling to beat relegation with five points to them the difference between survival and hell.

Die Rothosen ended a 15-match winless run in the Bundesliga with a 3-2 home win over Schalke last Saturday, their first victory since November thanks to recently appointed manager, Christian Titz

Hoffenheim have scored nine goals in their last two home games against relegation sides, Wolfsburg and Cologne 3-0 and 6-0, respectively but are going against a Hamburger side that has learned how to retain the ball and create chances as well.

Kevin Vogt should be available after recovering from an infection but Mark Uth will have to serve a one-match ban, meaning Andrej Kramaric should partner Serge Gnabry up front for TSG. Dennis Geiger may be out with a thigh injury.

Christian Titz can count on the return of Albin Ekdal is nearing full fitness again but Christian Mathenia (foot), Mërgim Mavraj, Nicolai Müller (ankle), Sven Schipplock (pulled muscle) remain out while Kyriakos Papadopoulos is suspended.

Hoffenheim are the stronger side but could be shocked by the 17th placed side. Expect this to be a competitive game as the first match ended 3-0.

 

Probable line-ups

Hoffenheim: 3-5-2

Oliver Baumann; Kevin Akpoguma – Kevin Vogt (c) – Benjamin Hübner; Pavel Kaderabek –  Lukas Rupp – Florian Grillitsch – Kerem Demirbay – Nico Schulz, Kramaric – Serge Gnabry

Coach: Julian Nagelsmann

Hamburg:

Julian Pollersbeck: Gōtoku Sakai (c) – Gideon Jung – Van Drongelen – Douglas; Ville Matti Steinmann; Tatsuya Ito – Lewis Holtby – Aaron Hunt – Filip Kostic; Luca Waldschmidt

Coach: Christian Titz

Match stats as per Bundesliga.com

  • Having been deployed at wing-back for three games before the international break, Serge Gnabry has scored three goals in two games at center-forward since.
  • Uth, who will join Schalke next season, has 12 goals this term – making him the top-scoring German in the Bundesliga.
  • Hoffenheim are unbeaten in their last six Bundesliga matches – the best current run in the division.
  • Hamburg are seven points adrift of safety. The Red Shorts are the only team to have played every Bundesliga season since the league’s inception in 1963.
  • Aaron Hunt, who scored the winner against Schalke, is on the cusp of his 300th Bundesliga appearance.
  • Hamburg have scored in all three games since Christian Titz replaced Bernd Hollerbach as coach. Lewis Holtby has scored two of HSV’s five goals in the period, having been without a goal since last August.

Do not miss the Bundesliga on StarTimes, please follow the fixture listing below for the time and channel of every Bundesliga match this weekend.

All playing on Saturday, April 14

04:30 PM    TSG 1899 Hoffenheim v Hamburger SV – Sports Focus

04:30 PM    Hertha Berlin v 1. FC Köln – Sports Life

04:30 PM    Bayer 04 Leverkusen v Eintracht Frankfurt – World Football

04:30 PM    VfB Stuttgart v Hannover 96 – Sports Premium

07:30 PM    FC Bayern München v Borussia M’gladbach – World Football

All playing on Saturday, April 15

04:30 PM    FC Schalke 04 v Borussia Dortmund – World Football

07:00 PM    SV Werder Bremen v RB Leipzig – Sports Premium

09:30 PM    1.FSV Mainz 05 v Sport-Club Freiburg – World Football

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