Preview: Bayern Munich v Hamburg

Bayern Munich begin their bid for a record fourth consecutive Bundesliga title on Friday with a visit from Hamburg.

Not even the great Bayern teams of the 1970s and 80s could manage four consecutive league successes, and it's hard to see the current Bayern side failing to write their names in the history books.

Friday's fixture in a sense sums up Bayern's dominance in recent seasons. Against a Hamburg side who have avoided relegation thanks to the relegation/promotion play-off in the past two seasons, they have scored 27 goals and conceded just four. When Hamburg visited the Allianz Arena last February they were hammered 9-0. The season-opener could be brutal.

Bayern have strengthened over the off-season too. Club favourite Bastian Schweinsteiger's exit may have annoyed some of the Bayern faithful, but with Arturo Vidal and Douglas Costa coming in the opposite direction, Bayern are better for their off-season transfer activity. 

Pep Guardiola's future is the only dark cloud hanging over the Allianz Arena, with the Spaniard entering the final year of his initial three-year contract. While this may have an unsettling effect, it's unlikely to be one that will see Bayern sway off course on route to the title. The Champions League will prove a significantly more difficult prospect.

In a sense it's something of a miracle that Hamburg remain in the league. The rollercoaster ride that the club endured last season could so easily have ended in the second tier, with Marcelo Diaz's last-minute free-kick against Karlsruher kicking starting a revival that was left to the last possible moment.

Hamburg have recruited eight players including Emir Spahic and Albin Ekdal, while Lewis Holtby has penned a permanent contract. 

Bruno Labbadia's side looked good in pre-season, winning four of their six fixtures, but then proceeded to narrowly avoid a cup exit at the hands of fourth-tier outfit Carl Zeiss Jena. There is never a dull moment at the Volksparkstadion.

Hamburg fans will be hoping for a quiet season without any drama, but a season-opener against the defending champions is unlikely to be the start of that.

In team news, Thiago Alcantara and Sebastian Rode have returned to training with Bayern, but Javi Martinez, Franck Ribery, Holger Badstuber and Jan Kirchhoff all miss out through injury. 

Hamburg will be without the services of Jaroslav Drobny, Petr Jiracek and Ashton Gotz. Rene Adler is expected to start in goal, with Spahic and Holtby in line to start.

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