Leapfrogging Freiburg with a derby win

It ended 0-1 last time inside the Rhein-Neckar Arena, but only a point and a place separate 1899 Hoffenheim and SC Freiburg in the Bundesliga table. As the local rivals get set to face one another this weekend, both teams are looking to put their recent poor form behind them. Three points have never been so coveted in the Baden-Württemberg Derby and the Sinsheim side know that a win would see them jump above Freiburg in the standings.

However, according to Marco Pezzaiuoli his squad are motivated and ready to take all three points despite only enjoying three victories, the latest of which came against league leaders Borussia Dortmund, since the winter break. "It's important for us to get back to winning ways", explained Pezzaiuoli. The same goes for Freiburg who have been trying to reach the 40-point mark for the last six Matchdays. However, four consecutive losses and a 1-1 draw with Mainz 05 last weekend have prevented them from achieving that goal. 1899's winter signing Edson Braafheid, who has already taken part in several derbies, is looking forward to the battle of the Baden based teams. "Derbies are always special because you want to be the best in your local region. I reckon that the fans can look forward to an entertaining encounter this weekend between two teams who both love to play with an attacking style of football."

Compact in a confined space

"A lot tough fight in a tight spot", is what Marco Pezzaiuoli is expecting against Freiburg alluding to the fact that both teams like to be aggressive when they press their opponents and attack the ball. "Freiburg play against the ball with the most compact team in the whole Bundesliga", stated Pezzaiuoli in reference to Robin Dutt's side. The fact that it will be a tight match also has to do with the fact that Freiburg currently have the smallest pitch in the league, but the Kraichgau outfit will be looking to use it to their advantage. 1899 seem to thrive in tight situations as proven by wins over HSV and Borussia Dortmund where they gave their opponents little or no room to operate it. Therefore they will be aiming reduce Freiburg's space as much as the pitch does, whilst staying compact at the back, something that Braafheid believes the defensive unit is capable of: "Our backline are functioning really well together right now." An added bonus was how well Andreas Ibertsberger slotted into defensive midfield against Hamburg. "Andreas offers a much needed sense of stability in the middle of the park", praised his coach.

1899 have a growing injury list

According to Braafheid the one thing missing from his side's performances is their ability to be clinical in front of goal. "We have to believe in ourselves and the fact that we can score goals." His compatriot Ryan Babel is still waiting for his first Hoffenheim goal and may have to wait a little longer after he picked up a knock in his knee that may rule him out of action this weekend. Alongside Babel it is likely that Sejad Salihovic, Boris Vukcevic and Matthias Jaissle as well as long-term absentees Chinedu Obasi and Manuel Gulde will all miss out.

Stats and Facts

These two sides have only met 3 times in the Bundesliga, scoring a total of four goals, but up until now none of the Baden-Württemburg derbies has seen the home side prevail. Both teams have won once, while the other match ended in a draw. Worrying for 1899 Hoffenheim is that they have lost their last three away games without scoring a single goal. They've only won one of their last seven matches (two draws, four defeats) when they beat leaders Dortmund 1-0 on the 26th Matchday, but they are looking to turn it all around this weekend. For Freiburg, Papiss Demba Cissé is currently the joint top scorer in the Bundesliga together with Bayern's Mario Gomez (19 goals each). If he finds the net one more time he could become only the second African after Anthony Yeboah to score 20 goals or more in the German top flight.


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