Markus Gisdol: "We need to get our game going"

On Saturday, 29th August (15:30 CEST), SV Darmstadt 98 will play host to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. Manager Markus Gisdol - looking ahead to the game along with Fabian Schär - is expecting excitement levels to be at fever pitch as soon as the ball is set in motion.

Markus Gisdol on ...

... the opposition:

Anyone who believes that this club hasn’t got a chance has already lost. Darmstadt have progressed rapidly in the last few years, and in that time they’ve formed a fantastic team. They’re a determined group, whose work deserves a lot of respect. They play simple football, but they do it consistently well. I can think of only one other team in Europe that plays the same style of football: Atletico Madrid. The work being put in at Darmstadt is remarkable.

Darmstadt make football look easy. When the ball is in play, they really go at it, like their lives depend on it. They’re clever, and take their time when the ball goes out of play. Then the ball is back in play and they’re at it again giving everything.

… personnel:

We’ll have a full squad available at Darmstadt. Depending on our style of play, we might change a couple of players, but we may not have to. Eduardo Vargas could of course be a part of the squad on Saturday. He’s still not 100% fit after the Copa America – he’s only trained individually so far, not with the whole team. But he’s made a very good impression; he’s a very good player who can play an aggressive game.

... the current situation:

Darmstadt will be underestimated in a large percentage of their games, and that’s to their advantage. We’ll make sure that our team doesn’t do that, and we’ll explain to the boys what kind of football will be awaiting us there. We’re not treating this game as a "new start" – we’ve begun the season with two losses, but we’ve been praised for our performances and we have to continue that. We have to be prepared for what our opponents will bring and we can’t be under the illusion that our game will suddenly click into place just like that. That’s the next big challenge for us – to get our game going. We can’t start complaining, because then we have no chance.
We have to accept the position we’re in, but we can’t let it affect us. We’ll take our situation as it is. It’s also nice to be able to play in a stadium like theirs this weekend – there’ll be a special atmosphere. When the game kicks off, it doesn’t matter what stadium you’re in though.


Fabian Schär on ...

... this week’s opponents:

Darmstadt are still buzzing and have started well. The fans always get behind them in their little ground. We have been warned.

... the current situation:

The results haven’t been good enough yet. We’re not where we need to be. But the team has a lot of quality and I’m convinced we’ll start picking up points in our next few games. We’ve got a chance to get off the mark in Darmstadt and we’re desperate to get our first points on the board.


Previous meetings

The last competitive encounter between these two sides was eight years ago. April 2007, back in the Regionalliga days, was the last time TSG faced Darmstadt, suffering a 2-0 defeat. The end of that season, however, saw Darmstadt relegated, while TSG gained promotion to the 2. Bundesliga. Prior to that, there had been a further five encounters in the Regionalliga. The head-to-head record? Even. Two victories each, and a draw. The stadium in Darmstadt may have remained the same, and Kai Herdling and Alexander Stolz are still part of the Hoffenheim squad, but the previous results will have no influence on the teams’ first Bundesliga clash.

The opposition’s form:

"We want to be awkward customers and not be easily dominated," said Darmstadt coach Dirk Schuster before the beginning of the season. "We want to impose our physical game on our opponents and really get stuck into challenges." Darmstadt have done well in the first two games of the season, drawing 2-2 at home to Hannover and 1-1 away to Schalke, collecting their first two Bundesliga points of the campaign. In both games they have taken the lead. Marco Sailer says that it is because they are "an awkward team". It will not be individual players that decide the game in Hesse, but rather the collective effort, the 50-50s, stamina and passion. Hoffenheim don’t expect there to be any let-up in the game against Darmstadt after the difficult start to the season with games against Leverkusen and Bayern, which is also the opinion of Jonathan Schmid. "Darmstadt have an appetite for more success, so we have to want it more than them."

The key battles:

The Darmstadt players stayed on their feet rather than diving into challenges, and committed many small, annoying fouls in order to break up the play of their opposition. "As soon the game kicks off, their excitement levels will be at fever pitch," said Markus Gisdol of their stubborn and aggressive playing style. In attack, Darmstadt usually play long balls and use their fast wide players, namely Marcel Heller and Konstantin Rausch. Heller scored both goals in the first game of the season, while Rausch netted against Schalke. Playing a high-tempo game without many touches of the ball could a way to avoid being tackled, and in defence, Niklas Süle and Fabian Schär will have to deal with the long balls.


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