The win against Man City is history, we’re back to league mode. This weekend, Bayern has to play against one of the teams that have surprised the most so far: 1899 Hoffenheim. What has changed in Sinsheim since the last match that Bayern won 4-0
a year and a half a year ago?
You might remember Saurabh, the writer of the great article about Eintracht Braunschweig. As I told you back then, he’s a Hoffenheim fan. Not a regular one, he’s responsible for the best Hoffenheim blog you’re gonna find. Now he’s here to tell us a bit about what has changed in Hoffenheim/Sinsheim and why they’re one of the most entertaining German teams at the moment. Enjoy.
The Hoffenheim of today is a far cry from what it was for much of last season. The last time our two teams clashed, it ended in a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Bayern. Granted, at the time, Hoffenheim were still coping with the losses of both Luiz Gustavo and Ralf Rangnick. But now, with a new man at the helm and an invigorated, young squad, Hoffenheim have shown that they could take their game to a new level this season.
The team has managed to strike a fine balance between attack and defence. With last season’s defence you never knew if a two goal lead was going to be enough but this year with the same players at the back it has all seemed to piece together perfectly. Despite already having three losses this season the team has been a lot more solid defensively. After very good wins against Mainz and Wolfsburg, the team had a slight air of overconfidence around them heading into last weekend’s game. So the loss to Köln might have been for the best as they were given a harsh reality check. Something that is going to be vital going into one of the toughest opponents so far this season.
While Bayern have been irresistible in front of goal, Hoffenheim isn’t shy of the net either. What had seemed like a very confusing tactic at the start has now developed into a very ambitious style of attack. Stanislawski’s “Hurricane” has shown that it can throw defences completely off balance. The front four of this attack are completely interchangeable, with players able to play as strikers, wingers and attacking midfielders and this movement and constant switching of positions has been a great source of attack for Hoffenheim. Stanislawski’s intense fitness training in the off-season and during the season itself has definitely benefited the players and allowed them to fit into this new style quickly.
Of course, Hoffenheim did start the season with a lot of injuries and now the returns of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Vedad Ibisevic, Tobias Weis, Boris Vuckevic and Knowledge Musona over the last two weeks has been a real boost to an attack that has shown that it lacks a finishing edge at times. In the match against Köln, the lack of a clear striker was a major reason for the eventual loss as the likes of Firmino and Sigurdsson struggled to find a man ready to make a run on goal. This ended up in more men being committed forward and left Köln with great chances to counter attack.
The warning has been received with Musona likely to get the start while Ibisevic could make his first appearance of the season coming off the bench. Although disciplinary actions against Musona and Obasi last weekend might cause a bit of a problem between the players and management approaching this match. Attempting to break Neuer’s 15 hours without conceding puts quite a bit of pressure on his opponents on Saturday. Maybe the impending contract extension of captain, Andreas Beck, will be a boost to morale though.
It will definitely be interesting to see how both teams handle each other on the weekend. For Hoffenheim, they’re no strangers to grinding out a win against a bigger team, but at the same time Bayern have overpowered the Sinsheim club in the last few meetings. Hoffenheim are still looking for their first win against Bayern and when asked about it Stanislawski said, “Last spring St Pauli beat HSV. It was the first Derby victory in 30 years. Every run comes to an end.” And despite being classed as just another punching bag for Bayern by most, Stanislawski, his men and the fans are going into this match with the same optimism we go into every weekend with.
Thanks a lot, Saurabh. Instead of telling you more about the upcoming match, let me guide you to the preview piece I wrote for his blog. Not as specific as the usual preview but still highly enjoyable, I hope:
If there are further questions, the comments section is always there for you to ask questions (if it’s your first time and the comment doesn’t show up immediately, it’s because I have to approve it first to avoid spam). Or, if you’re on Twitter, you can (almost) always ask me there.