“Nothing to lose” against Dortmund

1899 Hoffenheim are set to host high-flying Borussia Dortmund, who have all but clinched the 2011 Bundesliga title, inside the Rhein-Neckar-Arena on Saturday. BVB's record this season is impressive collecting 61 points, scoring 53 times and conceding only 14 goals in the process, putting them 12 points ahead of closest rivals Bayer 04 Leverkusen. It all adds up to match against the table toppers, in which 1899 Hoffenheim have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

However, if the Kraichgau outfit put in a performance like they did against Borussia Mönchengladbach they won't stand a chance against Dortmund, something that Matthias Jaissle picked up on in the pre-match press conference: "BVB are an unforgiving opponent, but we've really got nothing to lose. We definitely need to perform much better than we did against Gladbach, though." 1899's record against Dortmund does offer hope, though, as their encounters are often very even affairs. In the five meetings between the two sides both have taken a win, while the other three matches ended in a draw. Hoffenheim were unfortunate earlier in the season, when a late goal cost them all three points in a 1-1 draw, with Pezzaiuoli referring to it as the most "unlucky of draws". He's still well aware of the threats posed by the team at the top of the table: "BVB sit at the top of the table for a reason and are great at employing an attractive and dominant style of play."

"Motivation a must"

Dortmund being the favourites in the match goes without question as they are currently brimming with confidence. Hoffenheim are in no mood to cower in front of the number one team though and let them breeze by them. "We'll still look to put together flowing attacking moves against Dortmund instead of going about the game passively. The important thing is that we work as a unit", emphasised Pezzaiuoli. Despite the disappointment in recent matches, though, Jaissle is convinced the team is not suffering from a lack of motivation. "Each player is and has to continue being motivated. For some reason we don't seem to be able to take our performances on the training ground and convert them into good performances on the pitch", stated the defender who has had a new lease of life in the starting line-up since Vorsah and Simunic have both been struggling with injuries. The manager also believes that motivation and know-how are not what's missing from his team, believing instead that it's a mental problem given that "in training I can see the aggression as the players always give 100%." Jaissle added to the point by stating that the 1899 team "need to go back to what we do best and demonstrate our desire to fight for the ball and work for possession when we step out onto the field. Only then can realise our potential against Dortmund."

Trading places for 1899

There is a good chance that the Hoffenheim starting line-up may undergo a few changes following the defeat to Mönchengladbach. There are still two training sessions ahead of the match for a few players to stake their claim for a starting spot on Saturday. However, Andreas Ibertsberger is definitely out with his ongoing shoulder problems, while Peniel Mlapa will definitely be on the sidelines having picked up his fifth yellow card of the season earning him a one-match suspension. Outside of these fresh concerns and the long-term injuries Pezzaiuoli has a full squad to choose from.

Stats and Facts

The fans should certainly be ready to see their fair share of goals this weekend as both Hoffenheim and Dortmund have only failed to score on three occasions this season, the joint best record in the Bundesliga. Vedad Ibisevic is the player to watch out for, as he always seems to be a thorn in the side of Dortmund having scored four in four against the table toppers. The only team he has a better record against is Hertha BSC Berlin. BVB have only lost one of their last 24 matches in the top-flight of German football and it could take something special from 1899 to change that on Saturday.

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