"Not only do we want to remain ahead of Frankfurt in the table, we want to open up a gap between ourselves and the teams below," said coach Ralf Rangnick ahead of Saturday's clash. The home side will be hoping to return to form against Eintracht following two recent home defeats at the hands of Wolfsburg and Dortmund. "We were doing well at home until that point," said the 1899 supremo, who is expected the visitors to prove a tough nut to crack: "I can't imagine them throwing everyone forward against us."
Rangnick can call upon defender Andreas Ibertsberger once again, with the Austrian set to play from the start wearing a protective facial mask. Vedad Ibisevic is also likely to be recalled to the starting eleven. "I feel good," said the striker, "the match against Frankfurt is a good opportunity for us to show that we can beat a team that like to sit back." Brazilian Maicosuel will be missing for Hoffenheim through suspension, while Matthias Jaissle, Manuel Gulde and Andreas Beck are also sidelined.
Eintracht will be without the suspended Maik Franz, as well as injured trio Ioannis Amanatidis, Alexander Vasoski and Martin Fenin. Meanwhile, midfielder Selim Teber returns to his former club and takes on his former manager Rangnick: "He had three great years here and developed immensely," said the 51-year-old coach. Teber certainly won't be getting any special favours from his old team-mates, however, as Ibisevic confirmed: "We'll get the three points first, then we'll talk to Selim after the match."
Last season saw the first two meetings between the two clubs, with 1899 coming out firmly on top. At the Carl-Benz-Stadion in Mannheim, Hoffenheim ran out 2-1 winners with Demba Ba grabbing both the goals for the home side. The return fixture in Frankfurt saw Carlos Eduardo score in a 1-1 draw.