It was 90 minutes full of ups and downs. TSG trailed 3-1, before fighting back in the second half to earn a 3-3 draw. A result like that on Tuesday evening would result in extra time, with possibly a penalty shootout required to decide the winners. However, penalties are not something that Hoffenheim will be practising ahead of the match. “It's hard to simulate high-pressure situations like that in training,” explained manager Markus Gisdol at his pre-match press conference on Monday.
It will be Gisdol's first return to his former employers. That's not the only reason this should be “a game to enjoy,” as the manager put it. “We'll be playing in a great arena against a Champions League participant. What more could you want?” The boss had another chance to observe Schalke on Sunday. “They put in a strong performance against VfB Stuttgart,” he added.
Bremen in the past, looking ahead
That's why he expects it to be “a difficult game”, one that he could go into with a full squad. There are only question marks surrounding the fitness of Sejad Salihovic (bruised ribs) and David Abraham. The Argentine only recently rejoined the team after a muscle tear. Gisdol is still considering whether it is worth playing the centre back. “Two games in a short amount of time could be too much,” he explained.
Gisdol and his team have now moved on from their thrilling 4-4 draw with Bremen, a game that saw TSG drop two points in the dying stages. “We put it behind us on Sunday and moved our attention to the future,” said the manager. The key to a good result against Schalke is, as always, good defensive work. “We want to keep the opponents far away from our goal. We did that well for a long period in the first half against Bremen,” explained Gisdol.
In general, he thinks that a busy schedule is good. “You can start to put a run together or put a negative spell behind you,” said the gaffer. A positive run would do TSG some good – after all, there are some important games coming up in the league. Hoffenheim's opponents before the winter break are Frankfurt, Dortmund and Braunschweig. He doesn't want to weigh up the importance of each competition. The aim is for his side to give it their all in both the cup and the league.