Bayern hope for winning start for the new year

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Bayern Munich kick off the year with their Bundesliga match against visiting Hoffenheim on Friday, hoping to cut the gap to leaders Bayer Leverkusen as the league resumes after a three-week-winter break.

Overshadowed by the death of Germany and Bayern great Franz Beckenbauer last week, the Bundesliga restart will be no easy task for coach Thomas Tuchel’s team, currently in second place, four points behind Leverkusen but with a game in hand.

The Bavarians, chasing a record 12th straight league crown, have been far from dominating this season, with their erratic defence a source of constant concern.

Bayern have yet to get active on the transfer market despite pressure from Tuchel to sign a defender, and with Hoffennheim having scored on average twice in each of their 16 league games this season they are set to pose a serious attacking threat.

The visitors, however, have their own defensive work cut out as they attempt to stop Bayern striker Harry Kane, who has netted an impressive 21 times so far in the Bundesliga.

The England captain, in his first season in Germany, became the most expensive Bundesliga transfer ever following a 100-million euro ($109.59 million) move from Tottenham Hotspur and the move has paid off so far.

“There is not much that needs to be said. Harry Kane is a world class striker with a lot of experience at the highest level. He is captain of the England national team,” said Hoffenheim coach Pellegrino Matarazzo.

“He moves in such a clever way and his finish is outstanding. Defensively we will need a super day.”