Stani: “Looking up the table”

It is the last Bundesliga game of the calendar year and the perfect opportunity for 1899 Hoffenheim to finish off the first half of the season in a satisfactory manner. A win would give Holger Stanislawski's side 24 points at the halfway stage of the campaign and consolidate their place in the top half of the league.”We're aware of the opportunity here,” said manager Stanislawski on the eve of matchday 17 at home to Hertha Berlin.

Stani has a handful of missing players to contend with for the game. Andreas Ibertsberger, Matthias Jaissle and Chinedu Obasi, the subject of recent speculation linking him with a move to Schalke 04, are all out injured. Defender Marvin Compper is suspended after his red card away at 1. FC Nürnberg last weekend. On a more positive note, Knowledge Musona has recovered from his bout of flu, while Gylfi Sigurdsson is also fit again after a minor injury sustained against Bayer Leverkusen two weeks ago. Whether regular left-back Edson Braafheid will feature is not yet clear. The Dutchman was not in the squad to face Nürnberg for family reasons. His potential participation against Hertha will be decided on Friday afternoon.

Playing to our strengths

“We want to build on the performance we put in at Nürnberg”, reiterated Stani at Thursday's press conference. He was well-studied on the strengths and capabilities of 1899's opponents on Saturday. Markus Babbel's Hertha side have used counter-attacking football to great effect this season, and have a good away record to boot, picking up more points on the road than they have at home. “We know about their capabilities. When we lose the ball we must make sure we're in position quickly to stop ourselves becoming exposed”, said the Hoffenheim boss. Berlin's front four of Adrian Ramos, Raffael, Patrick Ebert and Pierre-Michel Lasogga will present a stern test for any defence, but Stanislawski was keener to focus on his own team's preparation: “It doesn't do us any good to dwell on how strong or weak our opponents are. We have to concentrate on ourselves and play our own game.”

Weis meets an old friend

One facet of 1899's game will be their effective pressing of their opponents, and that is a task tailor-made for Tobias Weis. In the words of his manager, he has an ‘incredibly strong will and brings an aggression to the game which is noticed by teammates and opponents alike.' Tobse himself is just happy to be playing and training without pain, after five operations in 15 months. “Before, I would come back to training too soon and didn't give my body enough time to properly recover. I've learned in the last couple of years that it's sometimes better to take a step back and wait a little longer”, said the midfielder. On Saturday, he will meet a familiar face in Markus Babbel. The two of them are acquaintances from their time together at VfB Stuttgart. “We have a good relationship, personally as well as professionally”, said Weis of his former manager Babbel. When asked if Weis would be greeting his former coach from the bench or as a starter, Stani gave a typically cryptic answer: “I'm always up for something funny. We'll see what happens tomorrow.”

Stats and Facts

This is the fifth Bundesliga meeting between Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin, and there has never been a draw to date. Hertha did the double over the Sinsheim outfit in the 2008-09 season, courtesy of goals from Andriy Voronin and Patrick Ebert, while 1899 did the same the following year. In 2009-10, when Hertha were relegated from the Bundesliga, Hoffenheim won 2-0 in the Olympic Stadium and 5-1 in the Rhein-Neckar-Arena, a result which cost then-Hertha manager Lucien Favre his job.

Match facts and statistics »

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