14:30 (BST); Saturday 23rd September; Wirsol Rhein-Neckar Arena (Sinsheim, Germany)
Hoffenheim will look to make it two wins on the bounce as they host Schalke in Week 6.
Schalke have been in good form, winning three of their first five encounters and it sees them sit sixth in the standings, but a crushing defeat last time out may have put a dent in their confidence.
Hoffenheim sit in third, just two points behind Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund, and they are one of three sides yet to lose this season.
Will Schalke bounce back after the midweek defeat or will Hoffenheim send the Royal Blues packing?
Last time out
Mainz 2-3 Hoffenheim
Hoffenheim made the journey to Mainz looking to return to winning ways as they faced an outfit looking for their second win of the season.
Mainz ultimately took the lead with Danny Latza’s long-range effort beating the outstretched Oliver Baumann and they doubled their advantage after 16 minutes thanks to Yoshinori Muto.
Hoffenheim hit back just seven minutes later, however, as Nadiem Amiri chipped Rene Adler.
Just before halftime, Sandro Wagner equalised from a corner to set the game up quite nicely heading into the second half.
The game was tight and remained goalless until the second minute of stoppage time when Mark Uth scored his fourth goal of the season to secure the points for Hoffenheim.
Schalke 0-3 Bayern Munich
Schalke looked to make it four wins in five games as they welcomed a Bayern Munich side they hadn’t beaten in the Bundesliga in seven years.
It was a difficult start for Schalke when Naldo handled the ball in the area midway through the first half and Robert Lewandowski subsequently sent Ralf Fährmann the wrong way to open the scoring for Bayern.
A visibly frustrated Schalke lost their way and moments later they fell behind by another.
James Rodriguez opened his Bundesliga account on his first start with a cool finish at Fährmann’s near post.
Schalke had a chance to pull one back through Guido Burgstaller, but Sven Ulreich was up to the task.
Bayern made it 3-0 with 15 minutes remaining when Rodriguez wonderfully played in Arturo Vidal to continue Schalke’s winless run over Bayern.
A different looking Hoffenheim took to the pitch with the likes of Felix Passlack, Nico Schulz, Lukas Rupp and Eugen Polanski all starting in midweek.
Unfortunately for all of them, they will drop to the bench with Steven Zuber, Pavel Kaderabek, Kerem Demirbay and Dennis Geiger returning to the starting lineup.
It will be interesting to see who Julian Nagelsmann starts between Mark Uth and Andrej Kramaric. I believe it will be Uth, who has six goals in his last seven competitive outings.
Domenico Tedesco didn’t play his best possible squad and yet his Schalke side showed plenty of endeavour despite the defeat.
Weston McKennie was given his first Bundesliga start and handled himself well, but he will make way for Yevhen Konoplyanka.
Schalke will return to a 3-4-3 formation this time around against Hoffenheim.
Key Battle: Julian Nagelsmann vs Domenico Tedesco
For the key battle in this match-up, I’ve taken a look at two of the youngest managers in the Bundesliga in Julian Nagelsmann and Domenico Tedesco.
Both are familiar with each other, graduating from the DFB’s managers’ license and consequently working at Hoffenheim at the same time.
When Nagelsmann became the first team coach, Tedesco was promoted to the U19s before joining Erzgebirge Aue.
The football Nagelsmann likes to play is very much possession-based with the wing backs providing the width, whilst two of the midfielders are very attacking.
When Hoffenheim go forward, they virtually have four attackers as Dennis Geiger plays a holding role.
Tedesco has a contrasting style. Pressing high is something he has integrated into Schalke, whilst focussing their attacks through the middle using the likes of Leon Goretzka and Nabil Bentaleb.
It will be an interesting battle between the two managers.
The striker has been in excellent form this season and has been a big part of why Hoffenheim sit third entering Week 6.
Uth has four Bundesliga goals from five matches with half of those coming against Bayern Munich.
The 26-year-old native of Köln initially struggled to find his way into the side, but with his current goalscoring form, it will be hard for Julian Nagelsmann to keep drop him.
High press with a chance of luck
Schalke didn’t play poorly by any stretch of the imagination last time out against Bayern Munich, but a lack of luck was very much pointed in the Royal Blues’ direction.
Domenico Tedesco’s side showed plenty of fighting spirit and they caused trouble for Bayern when they countered.
One aspect that Schalke did well in midweek was pressing high and giving Bayern less time in possession.
Against a Hoffenheim side good on the ball, it’s essential that Schalke limit Hoffenheim’s time in possession.
PREDICTION: Hoffenheim 2-0 Schalke
This will be an intriguing match-up and is the match to watch at the 14:30 (BST) time slot.
Two of Germany’s youngest and brightest managers go head-to-head, which is exciting to see as new footballing philosophies meeting head-on.
In the context of the game, I suspect that Hoffenheim will have a ton of pressure whilst creating a lot of chances. Ralf Fährmann will continue his good form, but it will be all for nought as Hoffenheim take the points.
Can Schalke steal the points in Sinsheim or will Hoffenheim keep their unbeaten home record intact? Let us know in the comments section below.
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