“Wolfsburg have just experienced a difficult week; they won't want a repeat of that. It's our job to make sure that next week they look back on a bad result for them, and a good one for us”, said Babbel in his pre-match press conference. Although Wolfsburg will be keen to banish the demons of last week's 4-0 defeat to Schalke 04, Hoffenheim's coach still believes his side are in a good position to take three points. “We'll have to work hard, mentally as well as physically I f we can manage that, then we'll have chance of winning the game”, said the manager.
Vorsah available again
Regarding personnel, Babbel is without Stefan Thesker, Andreas Ibertsberger and Matthias Jaissle. “Boris Vukcevic had to sit out two days ago, but he should be fit tomorrow. Otherwise, the squad has a clean bill of health”, revealed the coach. Ghanaian defender Isaac Vorsah has also returned to the club after featuring for his country at the African Cup of Nations, and is a further option in defence, along with Marvin Compper and Jannik Vestergaard. Ryan Babel, Edson Braafheid and Sejad Salihovic were all on the bench for the last game at home to Mainz, and Babbel declined to comment on whether they would return to the starting eleven. “I watch how the players have trained over the course of the week. Then on Friday, or even later, I make my decision on who will be starting.”
Lakic and Johnson with extra motivation
In Srdjan Lakic and Fabian Johnson, TSG have two former Wolfsburg players. Left-back Johnson transferred to Hoffenheim last summer, while Lakic joined just last month on a six-month loan deal until the summer, and his hoping that his first goal for 1899 can come against his parent club this weekend. “I'll just carry on working as hard as ever, and then a goal is sure to come for me”, said the striker. Babbel is also confident that the Croat is not far off his fist notch for the club. “If he carries on training and playing like his has been doing, he'll be fine. I'm pleased with the commitment he has shown me so far”, exclaimed the manager.
Judging from their previous meetings in the Bundesliga, this clash is guaranteed to provide goals. In their seven top-flight encounters, a total of 28 goals have been scored. Their last meeting ended in a 3-1 win for 1899, with Brazilian Roberto Firmino grabbing two goals. But overall, the Wolves do enjoy the better record still, having won four of those seven games, all of which came in the Volkswagen Arena. Indeed, Felix Magath's Wolfsburg side have been especially strong at home this season, taking a total of 23 points from a possible 27. But there is one good omen for Hoffenheim: the last time Wolfsburg lost at home was to Hertha BSC in November. And who managed Hertha then? Markus Babbel.