14:30 BST, Saturday 28th October, Wirsol Rhein-Neckar Arena (Sinsheim, Germany)
Hoffenheim will look to get back to winning ways when they welcome Borussia Mönchengladbach on Matchday 10 of the Bundesliga season.
Gladbach come into the game off the back of a 5-1 thumping at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen in their last matchday. They did, however, manage to book their place in the Round of 16 of the DFB Pokal by beating Bundesliga 2 leaders Fortuna Düsseldorf on Tuesday evening. By contrast, Hoffenheim failed progress in the Pokal, running out losers against Werder Bremen on Wednesday.
A win from Gladbach could see move into the top 6, whilst Hoffenheim could close the gap on the top three with a victory.
Last Time Out
Werder Bremen 1-0 Hoffenheim (DFB Pokal)
Hoffenheim made the long journey north for their 2nd round DFB
Pokal clash with a Werder Bremen whose last win came in this competition. Julian Nagelsmann’s side dominated from the outset – a trend that continued throughout the contest – but, in the end, they failed to create anything of real note.
During the game, Hoffenheim outshot Bremen 16 to 6 with the hosts making their one shot on target count : Ishak Belfodil scoring past Gregor Kobel on the half-hour mark. It was a frustrating night for Hoffenheim who must now focus on a tricky fixture at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Fortuna Düsseldorf 0-1 Borussia Mönchengladbach (DFB Pokal)
Gladbach made the short journey east to the Esprit Arena as they took on Bundesliga 2 leaders Fortuna Düsseldorf in the second round of the DFB Pokal. Against expectations, Düsseldorf came out stronger and they should have taken the lead when Jean Zimmer was played. The winger fluffed his lines, though, and putting the ball wide.
Against the run of play, Gladbach took the lead: Raffael sending Thorgan Hazard on his way with the Belgian’s shots deflecting off keeper Raphael Wolf into the back of the net. Düsseldorf pressed for the equaliser and managed to get a penalty when Niko Gießelmann was fouled by Tony Jantschke. Stepping up to take it himself, Gießelmann hit the wood work in what was a let off for Gladbach.
Julian Nagelsmann will continue to rotate his squad as they continue their busy schedule. Hoffenheim will be without Ermin Bicakcic and Havard Nordtveit due to injury whilst Benjamin Hübner picked up his fifth yellow for the season and so misses through suspension. The Sinsheim club are short-staffed in defence and so Kevin Akpoguma and Stefan Posch will join Kevin Vogt in the back three.
Borussia Mönchengladbach Lineup
Gladbach made a number of changes for their midweek fixture with Fortuna Düsseldorf in what proved to be an unconvincing display. Dieter Hecking will once again ring in the changes with Tony Jantschke and Ibrahima Traoré dropping to the bench.
Jannik Vestergaard returns after being rested whilst Fabian Johnson returns in midfield. Christopher Kramer missed the cup tie in Düsseldorf and a decision will be made about him closer to the game. Mickael Cuisance is set to start alongside Denis Zakaria in midfield.
Key Battle: Sandro Wagner vs Jannik Vestergaard
Sandro Wagner has had an uneventful season so far and Hoffenheim will need the 29-year-old Munich native to get back into his goal scoring groove. Last season, Wagner scored 11 goals and provided 4 assists in 31 appearances in the Bundesliga. This season, though, the Germany international hasn’t been as potent up front. So far, Wagner has just the two goals this campaign. He’ll be hoping to regain his form against a Gladbach side who have been faltering somewhat in the last few weeks.
Jannik Vestergaard has played every minute for Gladbach in the Bundesliga and should come into this game refreshed after being rested in Gladbach’s cup win in Düsseldorf. The Danish defender has been busy in defence this season, winning 71% of tackles and 65% of aerial duels. Vestergaard is favourite to win this battle but he will need to be at his best in Sinsheim on Saturday to keep Wagner at bay.
Matthias Ginter and Jannik Vestergaard are an excellent Bundesliga defensive pairing on paper. However, Gladbach have conceded 17 goals this season which, along with Rhineland rivals Köln and Freiburg, gives them the worst record in the Bundesliga this season. Dieter Hecking’s side needs to tighten up defensively in Sinsheim.
Lull Die Fohlen to sleep
Hoffenheim enjoy playing an attacking game, pushing their wing backs down the channels whilst Kerem Demirbay plays a freer role going forward. Given Gladbach’s defensive frailties, however, Hoffenheim may be better served by keeping possession and grinding out chances. It will be only a matter of time until Hoffenheim will inevitably break down the Gladbach defence.
Prediction: Hoffenheim 3-1 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Hoffenheim have struggled the last weeks in the league, twice coughing up leads and ending up drawing. Gladbach may have secured a win with Fortuna Düsseldorf in the cup but they have been less than convincing at the defensive end in recent weeks. The likes of Sandro Wagner and Andrej Kramarić could feast on a fragile Gladbach defence and expect Hoffenheim to take the points.
Can Hoffenheim return to winning ways? Or will Borussia Mönchengladbach atone for their previous Bundesliga disaster? Let us know in the comments section below
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