Following the disappointing result against St. Pauli on Matchday 19, 1899 Hoffenheim head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli made two changes to his side. Vedad Ibisevic missed out due to suspension, while his Bosnian compatriot, Sejad Salihovic, had to be content with a place on the bench. New signing Ryan Babel made his debut and was thrown straight in at the deep end as part of 1899's three-pronged. Meanwhile, Gylfi Sigurdsson slipped into midfield alongside Sebastain Rudy and Tobias Weis, who was able to overcome a slight knock to retain his place in the starting line-up. The back four was unchanged and Tom Starke continued in goal.
1899 go missing
Ahead of their lengthy trip to Cottbus head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli believed his team would maintain "an appropriate level of respect" for their opponents who he admitted they "are incredibly confident when playing at home". The opening exchanges proved just that as Cottbus got off to a flying start. 3 minutes in and Kruska's half volley only just whistled past the left hand post putting the home side were on the front foot straight away. 1899 Hoffenheim, on the other hand, couldn't find their feet in the match. Jula then provided a moment of inspiration, spinning on the spot to hit a fierce left footed volley towards goal from a throw in. His strike was straight at Starke, though, who collected comfortably.
Cottbus continued to play a high standard off football, giving Hoffenheim no time on the ball and very few chances in front of goal. Vukcevic managed to carve out a chance for himself, but was wasteful with the effort that flew over the bar. The best chance came just before half time when Hünemeier found himself unmarked in the box, meeting a corner, only to put his header into the gloves of Starke. It sent the teams in level at half time after a terrible first 45 minutes for the Kraichgau outfit. Marco Pezzaiuoli had work to do at the break and will have undoubtedly had some very strong words for his players.
Cottbus clinch it
1899 were a completely different team in the second half. The energy levels returned and the counter attack was finally being put to good use when Ryan Babel was released after an incisive break away. One-on-one with Kirschbaum the Dutch striker should have done better with his effort as he failed to find the back of the net. The increase in tempo saw the fans enjoy end-to-end action. The Dutch striker then turned provider as he slipped in a delightful pass into the path of an unmarked David Alaba, but fresh off of scoring this weekend the youngster dragged his effort wide of the far post.
Then, with 7 minutes remaining came the long awaited breakthrough, though, unfortunately for Pezzaiuoli, it came at the wrong end of the pitch. Reimerink burst into the 1899 penalty area, shrugging off Vukcevic in the process, before cutting the ball back to substitute Jiayi Shao to slam the ball past Starke. Hoffenheim almost responded immediately when a Vukcevic delivery feel to Sigurdsson at the back post. The Icelandic internationals effort from 6 yards was saved acrobatically by Kirschbaum, though, as he somehow managed to get enough on the shot to tip it onto the bar. Hoffenheim were throwing everything they could at the hosts, but Cottbus hung on admirably and even had a chance to extend their lead when Jula whipped in a cross for Kurth in the dying minutes only for Starke to push it wide of the post.
The final whistle was greeted with jubilation in the Cottbus ranks and despite a better second half, 1899 Hoffenheim again crash out at the quarterfinal stage and will have to wait until next year for another chance at getting further.