In Frankfurt: No thinking, just playing

“Our position in the league speaks for itself”, stated Peniel Mlapa ahead of Hoffenheim's trip to Eintracht Frankfurt this Saturday. However, what has happened on the pitch in recent weeks has shown that 1899 are prone to a lapse in concentration in the final stages of a match and the men from Kraichgau are keen to stop that from happening again.

The last gasp defeat to Freiburg was the third match this season in which Hoffenheim have let a game slip through their hands in the dying minutes of extra-time. It first happened against FC Bayern München, again in Dortmund, although it was an equaliser as opposed to winner in that one, and then of course most recently thanks to Papiss Demba Cisse. Not to mention the loss to Hamburg with a goal in the 86th minute. The apparent lack of concentration when it is arguably needed most is proving to be a real thorn in Ralf Rangnick's side. "If a player spends to must time thinking about the result whilst on the pitch, they are always taking the risk that they may lose their concentration in the last ten minutes", explained Rangnick.

What's done is done, now lets move on

The unlucky circumstances of previous matches are a thing of the past and Hoffenheim are determined to prove that against Frankfurt this weekend. That is why Rangnick himself is happy to get back into the football workshop to tinker with the minor details that he believes are losing him the match. This is because he does not agree with those who have said Hoffenheim have played poorly against both Freiburg and Hamburg. "We haven't had a bad game all season, we have always been the better team in one half of the match." That is why he wants to take the positives out of the Freiburg match and take them onto the pitch in Frankfurt.

More room to manoeuvre against Frankfurt

Hoffenheim are hoping to take advantage of the zonal marking preferred by Eintracht as it gives them more room in important areas when they are in possession. However, Frankfurt's system has worked pretty well so far this season. The team from Hessen are sitting in 5th place on 20 points and have Theofanis Gekas to thank for their inspired start to the season. The Greek international "is always good for a goal and doesn't need many chances to get one," as Mlapa knows. 11 goals in 12 appearances and currently the top goalscorer in the league, he is at the top of his game right.

It is not all about Gekas though and Rangnick knows it would be unwise to concentrate purely on the prolific frontman. At least 10 other men, not to mention trainer Michael Skibbe, are responsible for the Eagles good form. So on Matchday 13 Hoffenheim need to keep their concentration to the very end, the next match is not important, what is important is to go to Frankfurt and play good attractive football that wins the match.

Players return from international duty

Over the past few days certain Hoffenheim players have been on international duty. Andreas Beck played the second half for Germany against Sweden, Sebastian Rudy, Peniel Mlapa and Boris Vukcevic started for the U-21's against England and Salihovic and Ibisevic celebrated a win against Slovakia with Bosnia. They all returned unharmed from their travels and along with Demba Ba, who travelled to Paris with Senegal, they are fit to play in Hessen. Only Gylfi Sigursson returned with concerns about his fitness and along with Chinedu Obasi, Tom Starke and Josip Simunic, he is likely to miss out.


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