Babbel takes on Mainz in first game at home

1899 Hoffenheim's new manager Markus Babbel will take charge of his first home game against 1. FSV Mainz 05. After the encouraging 1-1 draw away at Werder Bremen last Saturday, the team will be hoping to secure a first win since early December.

“The boys have trained well this week, and I'm looking forward to my first home game”, said Babbel. “If we perform like we did in the second half against Bremen, then we can win the game. But Mainz are a good team, and an aggressive team, with an outstanding coach.”

Babel and Salihovic back

t has been quickly established that Babbel doesn't give too much away regarding his teamsheet. “I've never been a manager who gives things away a day before a game. Keeping the element of surprise is important”, insisted Babbel today. Stefan Thesker, Andreas Ibertsberger and Matthias Jaissle will, however, be missing due to injury. But Ryan Babel and Sejad Salihovic are in contention to feature after missing out last week through suspension. “Sejad and Ryan are top quality players. We'll have to wait and see if they're in the starting eleven.” Babel scored twice away at Mainz in the 4-0 win earlier in the season and has five league goals to his name in total. New signing Srdjan Lakic is still waiting on his first goal, but is focused on opening his account. “I feel good here in Hoffenheim. Goals are just a question of time”, said the 28-year-old Croat.

Mainz missing Bungert and Pospech

The chances of Lakic finding the net on Friday evening look good. Mainz coach Thomas Tuchel will have to do without two of his regular back four in Nico Bungert and Zdenek Pospech. Bungert is suspended after picking up another yellow card against Hannover 96 last week, while Pospech suffered a ligament injury. But Mainz do have an ace to play up front. Mohammed Zidan, who recently rejoined the club from Borussia Dortmund, has scored two in two since returning to the Coface Arena, and now has 24 goals in 43 matches for the club in his three spells in total. “Zidan is a big threat, and we will have to keep an eye on him”, said Babbel.

Clear victory in home game

Hoffenheim's trip to Mainz ended in a clear 4-0 victory for the Sinsheim outfit, but it was only TSG's first win against FSV in the Bundesliga in five meetings; the other four were all won by Mainz. In that respect, then, there is room for Hoffenheim to improve that record. Mainz coach Tuchel conceded that his team is in for a tough game tomorrow night in the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena. “We know that will be difficult against Hoffenheim, but we'll still try to keep out current run going. We'll need a good performance to do that.”

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