Markus Gisdol on…
It is difficult to understand because they are bottom of the table but, at the same time, they are one of the best teams away from home. You wouldn't normally expect to find them in the bottom three come the end of the season. We are already well aware of their qualities.
VfB have new signing Geoffroy Serey Dié available and on top of that, there have been lots of changes of both personnel in defence and attack, and formation – sometimes it's been 4-1-4-1, other times it's been 4-2-3-1. The fact that I know Huub Stevens well helps a little but there are still questions and uncertainties.
Eugen Polanski is suspended having picked up his fifth yellow card in the game against Wolfsburg. Tobias Strobl has a thigh problem so can only return to training with the team on Friday at the earliest, although it still isn't certain that he will return then. Due to illness, question marks remain over Adam Szalai and Kevin Volland, while Sven Schipplock has suffered a setback with his tonsillitis.
…the current situation:
In the games since the winter break, we've been a yard off the pace because the players haven't understood our system as well as they thought they had. It's a subconscious thing as nobody deliberately plays badly. You don't win a match in the Bundesliga when you're only playing at 99% of your ability. We have spoken a lot about this and have also changed what we've been working on in training.
We've been conceding goals too easily recently. We have to deal with that. The 1% must be missing in attack as well because it wasn't just against Wolfsburg that we've created a lot of chances. We're just missing something to get the ball over the line.
Andreas Beck on…
… the opposition:
Huub Stevens places real importance on organisation and defending well. We are going to look at VfB's tactics again closely, but from my point of view, they often play with a five-man midfield so it won't be an open encounter, but rather a waiting game. VfB will rely on set pieces and counterattacks.
…the current situation:
We had obviously hoped for a different start to 2015. We have worked on specific elements of our game this week and have also spoken to each other a lot. Now we just need to put it into practice on the pitch.
We have to work hard and dig deep. We don't need to put in the best performances as long as we get results. We've had setbacks before under Markus Gisdol but we've always managed to turn it around. That should also be the case this time. If we win, we'll regain our self-confidence. We want to recapture our form from the first half of the season. It's important not just for us but for the fans who support us magnificently.
The upcoming game:
The Baden-Württemberg derby results weren't great for TSG for a long time. They failed to win any of their first eight Bundesliga matches against VfB. The head-to-head has improved since then though. Hoffenheim have won three and lost two of the last five meetings. The last draw between the two teams was over four years ago. TSG fans have fond memories of the two most recent encounters. Their team won 4-1 at home in the second half of the 2013/14 season and were 2-0 winners earlier in this campaign.
The opponents' form:
VfB haven't got going yet in 2015 either. Huub Stevens' team have only taken one point from three games and find themselves 18th. Stuttgart have failed to score in any of their last four games. Caution has to be taken though as they play a lot better away from home, having picked up 13 of their 18 points on their travels this season, scoring 16 goals. Only FC Bayern have been more prolific away from home.
The key battles:
"Offense wins games, defense wins championships" is one of the most used clichés in American sport. VfB manager Huub Stevens has translated it into football speak as “clean sheets are a must” and has gone by that motto for many years, winning a trophy or two along the way. True to his word, he places emphasis on defensive stability. For TSG, it's a question of getting the right balance between breaking down the VfB defense and preventing the likes of Timo Werner, Moritz Leitner and Martin Harnik from launching counterattacks. It also remains to be seen who'll replace Eugen Polanski in the starting XI.