17:00 BST, Sunday 22nd October, Volkswagen Arena (Wolfsburg, Germany), BT Sport 3
Wolfsburg have stabilized since the appointment of Martin Schmidt but they are yet to win under the Swiss manager. From their three games with Schmidt in charge, they have taken three consecutive draws. Schmidt would love to get his first win for Die Wölfe against Hoffenheim at home.
Hoffenheim enter the match in shaky league form, being winless in their previous two matches with the club’s last win coming at home to Schalke. Wolfsburg are hovering over the drop and a win would help them at least move up into mid-table whilst. At the other end of the table, a Hoffenheim victory keeps them in touching distance of the leaders.
Last Time Out
Bayer Leverkusen 2-2 Wolfsburg (Bundesliga)
Wolfsburg made the journey south to the Rhineland as they took on Bayer Leverkusen. It was the visitors who went into the league, Lars Bender opening the scoring on 29 minutes. But Wolfsburg fought back and, just before halftime they were level, Paul Verhaegh’s cross finding Divock Origi for his second of the season.
Leverkusen retook the lead just after the hour mark when Lucas Alario tapped home Wendell’s cross. This didn’t worry Die Wölfe who pressed for an equaliser and it would come on 69 minutes when Jakub Blaszczykowski weaved past Sven Bender to score his first Bundesliga goal in 1,450 days.
Hoffenheim 3-1 Istanbul Basaksehir (Europa League)
Hoffenheim went into the third fixture of the Europa League group stage still searching for their first victory. In an even first half, both sides had their sights on the goal. It was Hoffenheim who would take the initiative and the lead just after halftime with Benjamin Hübner on hand to head home Kerem Demirbay’s corner.
Hoffenheim were two to the good a few minutes later thanks to an excellently taken volley by Nadiem Amiri. With 15 minutes remaining, Julian Nagelsmann’s side put the game to bed: Nico Schulz smashed home from close range. Istanbul would score a goal when Stefano Napoleoni’s curling shot beat the sprawling Oliver Baumann but, in the end, it proved to be nothing more than a consolation effort.
Wolfsburg will see the return of club captain Mario Gomez who has missed the past five matches through injury. ‘Its expected he will be in the match-day squad but, with Divock Origi remaining in the starting lineup, he will wait to make his appearance from the bench. Maximilian Arnold will play in a traditional number 10 behind Origi with Wolfsburg reverting to a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Julian Nagelsmann will continue to rotate his squad for their clash in Wolfsburg in Matchday 9. Havard Nordtveit returns to the starting lineup with young Hoffenheim talent Stefan Posch making way. Pavel Kaderabek also comes into the starting lineup with Mark Uth who played at right wing back, dropping out.
Key Battle: Ignacio Camacho vs Kerem Demirbay
Ignacio Camacho has been an immediate impact signing for Wolfsburg. Since joining the club, the Spanish midfield has been the glue that holds the team together in the middle of the park. The 27-year-old has been an important factor for Wolfsburg, completing 74% of his passes and is a pivotal part of the build up. Only Felix Uduokhai features more often in build-up play than Camacho. Look for Camacho to establish the tempo for Wolfsburg.
Kerem Demirbay lit up the Bundesliga last season and was one of the most improved players in Germany’s top flight. This season, though, injury has seen the midfielder play fewer minutes so far for Hoffenheim with his influence on the game very much noticeable. Hoffenheim need their creative left-footer to hit his stride on Sunday.
Wolfsburg have been working a lot harder and playing a lot smarter since Martin Schmidt took over as manager. However, they are yet to reap the rewards and gain a victory. Die Wölfe are on a four game run of consecutive draws and they will be looking to break the trend as soon as possible. Good, old-fashioned hard work and determination will go along way in helping Wolfsburg take something away from this encounter.
Strength in numbers
Once again, Hoffenheim’s squad will be stretched as they return to Bundesliga following their Europa League encounter with Istanbul Basaksehir. For a young squad like Hoffenheim’s, this will prove to be another test for Julian Nagelsmann’s side. As a result, giving players time to recover will be imperative to the success of the Sinsheim club. It will be interesting to see how Nagelsmann manages his squad prior to the clash with Wolfsburg.
Prediction: Wolfsburg 2-2 Hoffenheim
Both sides have relatively leaky defences which could provide plenty of attacking football. Hoffenheim has conceded five goals in their last two clashes, which is cause for concern for Julian Nagelsmann. Can Wolfsburg’s attack provide enough of a threat to test a fatiguing defence. Expect goals in an entertaining draw with neither side able to secure the three points at the Volkswagen Arena.
Can Wolfsburg return to winning ways or will Hoffenheim keep in touch with the league leaders? Let us know in the comments section below
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