“There are no friends in the relegation battle”

This weekend marks the final match of the season for 1899 Hoffenheim. For Marco Pezzaiuoli it will be his final game on the sidelines as head coach of the Kraichgau outfit. For both team there is a lot more riding on this encounter than may have been expected a few weeks ago. The visitors VfL Wolfsburg are still fighting for survival down the wrong end of the table, while 1899 have the opportunity to jump as high as seventh if they take all three points.

Marvin Compper summarised the build-up perfectly. "The match has a lot more significance than people may have expected, for us, as well as VfL Wolfsburg. We have an opportunity to climb as high as 7th in the table, but could also slip down as far as 12th." Meanwhile, Wolfsburg's fate rest in their own hands, but need a win to avoid having to rely on favours from other sides. Level on points with the resurgent Borussia Mönchengladbach, Felix Magath's side will want to avoid any late drama in the season finale. However, the Wolves shouldn't be expecting any help from their hosts on Matchday 34. "In the relegation battle, there are no such things as friends. We're not looking to help any of the three teams in trouble", explained Pezzaiuoli, with Compper adding: "We're professionals and when we step out onto that pitch we intend to win."

One last target to meet

Everything indicates that it should be an entertaining affair when these two teams meet. Wolfsburg will be giving everything they have got to avoid the relegation zone completely and 1899 are trying to put a positive spin on the end of their season. In the pre-match press conference Pezzaiuoli expressly stressed the importance of finishing strongly for the club, the team and the fans. That final target for the Sinsheim side is likely to prove difficult to meet.

VfL Wolfsburg are a team who boast a lot of quality within their squad as they travel to the Rhein-Neckar Arena. "Wolfsburg have a huge amount of potential, which they haven't managed to call upon at all this season", explained the 42-year old. With names like Grafite, Diego and Mario Mandzukic in the ranks the Wolves posses a truly threatening frontline. "They like to get the ball forward as quickly as possible", began Compper, with Pezzaiuoli going on to explain: "Wolfsburg love playing long balls forward to their front men. We've got to be straight on the attack they gain possession."

Early end to Ibertsberger's season

"The starting eleven will be relatively unchanged", revealed Pezzaiuoli. The past few matches, none more so than the win against 1. FC Nürnberg, are evidence enough to suggest that it would be a smart move. However, there are still a few uncertainties left the main one of which concerns centre-back Isaac Vorsah. The Ghanaian international had to bring an early end to a recent training session during the week and his involvement is likely to be a last minute decision. There are also question marks surrounding Sejad Salihovic's involvement because despite returning to training, the reoccurring knee problems are still causing the Bosnian problems. Andreas Ibertsberger, on the other hand, is definitely missing. The utility player had his season brought to an abrupt end after undergoing an operation on his ankle. Elsewhere, outside of the long-term injuries, Pezzaiuoli has a full squad to choose from.

Stats and Facts

In the head-to-head record between these two sides Wolfsburg just have their noses in front. The Wolves have won 3 of the five meetings with one ending in a draw and Hoffenheim taking all three points in the other. Both sides have conceded a total of 47 goals this season, but Hoffenheim have managed to take 8 points more in the process. Gylfi Sigurdsson is the man in form at the moment for 1899 having had a part to play in three of Hoffenheim's last four goals.


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