The backdrop isn't the only thing to worry about either, as Borussia Dortmund currently sit top of the table and are in blistering form taking maximum points from their last 7 games. Jürgen Klopp's men have only succumbed to defeat once this season, 0-2 against Bayer 04 Leverkusen on the opening day. Ralf Rangnick, though, is all too aware of the threats posed by 1899's opposition: "They are disciplined and committed to their system. They are well equipped in a lot of positions and have what it takes to stay ahead of the game."
Sneaking a point
The current league leaders have already scored 20 goals this season, conceding only 6 in the process, putting the men from Kraichgau firmly in the underdogs role. However, this isn't all bad news for 1899 as both Rangnick and Marvin Compper explained in the build-up. "We need to take advantage of our underdog status, but in order to do that we need a top performance", stated Rangnick with Compper adding that, "everyone thinks Dortmund will keep winning, which is exactly why we have a chance to steal something from the match. No one is backing us." The system that Rangnick intends to employ to take "at least one point" is still uncertain. However, the philosophy is clear - beat them at their own game. "Dortmund are aggressive and we have to be too. We need to dictate the pace and keep the tempo high, because they tend to struggle in those situations," elaborated Compper.
The win over Borussia Mönchengladbach will certainly have boosted the teams' confidence ahead of Sunday's clash with the top dogs. With Lucas Barrios and Shinji Kagawa proving a deadly combination up front, both having scored four goals, Hoffenheim need to take note. Despite the changes to the back-line and the recent mistakes, though, Compper is positive. "We have no problems at the back. The mood at the back is the same as it was on the first day of the season. If everyone does their job and we work together we don't have to be afraid of any strike force."
Rangnick with options
With everything running smoothly for Rangnick both up front and in the midfield department, only the defensive unit is causing the trainer problems. Josip Simunic and Andreas Ibertsberger both miss out due to injury and the starting back four remains a question for the time being. However, both Sebastian Rudy and Gylfi Sigurdsson are back in contention after shrugging off minor injuries. On top of that Rangnick was a little unclear as to whether Vedad Ibisevic would start his ninth match in a row: "Following his poor performance against Gladbach he has reacted the only way I know he can. He has strived to prove himself and given everything in training."
It is clear that to get anything from this match against Dortmund, 1899 will have to play to the best of their ability. Although, this Bundesliga season has proven that anything is possible, maybe the men from Kraichgau can snatch something from the match a bring BVB's winning streak to an end. If that happens the goose bumps will most certainly be on the arms of the Hoffenheim fans.
Stats and Facts
After four Bundesliga encounters the teams are equal with a win each and two draws. If Dortmund can beat Hoffenheim without conceding, it will be their fourth home match in a row that they have won to nil and will be a new record for the league leaders. However, not to be forgotten is the fact that 1899 have scored at least once in all of their last 12 matches, which is still the longest running streak in the league alongside Freiburg.