Julian Nagelsmann on...
... the opposition:
For many people, Hertha’s success this season has been a surprise, but not so much for me. They are a good side with good individual players. They have a plan to stay compact and they defend particularly well in their own half. We have to be at our best to beat this team. Looking in from the outside, Pal Dardai seems like a very emotional guy who really gets to grips with his side.
... the personnel:
Ermin Bicakcic is still absent with a muscle injury and has not been able to train with the team. Otherwise, there is a fully fit squad to pick from – Pirmin Schwegler has trained with the team the entire week and was able to take part in all parts of training. However, he is not 100 percent fit. Sebastian Rudy is not available due to suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the campaign.
... the current situation (1):
We have recognised some weaknesses in the Berlin team, and we will adjust our own game plan according to that. We will try to catch them off guard. I’m expecting a tight game, not a goal fest.
... the current situation (2):
The team have gained confidence in recent weeks and can taste blood. The players enjoy winning, and we want to keep that going. It is important that we take something from tight games when we don’t play too well. That is also a development that the team has made.
... the current situation (3):
The situation is a little more relaxed but we are still not far enough from danger that we can sit back and enjoy the sun. We will only get the deckchairs out when we are absolutely safe from relegation.
... the current situation (4):
This hype around the ‘Nagelsmann table’ is too big. I am certainly not the best coach in the world. We have a great support staff around the team and everyone is working hard to continue this development we have been making lately. But we have to be weary of the expectations, because it is clear that we did not go to Frankfurt and outplay Eintracht for 90 minutes. Nobody believed a few weeks ago that this team would get out of danger.
The head-to-head record between TSG and Hertha is almost even – four wins for Hoffenheim, five for the Berliners and two draws. A home win on Saturday would make things all-square. The most recent win in Sinsheim over the side from the capital came last season when Anthony Modeste and Roberto Firmino scored in a 2-1 victory on the final day of the season. Roy Beerens got the goal for the visitors. Hoffenheim would certainly be able to live with another 2-1 win on Saturday…
The opposition’s form:
Berlin are third. Not much more needs to be said about that. They are the season’s surprise package, but Pal Dardai’s side have not been firing on all cylinders recently. They suffered a 5-0 thrashing at Gladbach and picked up just a point in front of their own fans when they drew 2-2 against bottom side Hannover.
The key battle:
Plattenhardt, Weiser, Skjelbred, Lustenberger, Darida – Hertha have real consistency, they play as a team, line up with the almost famous skewed triangle in midfield and appear much more dominant than they did last season. The players want to have the ball and keep it. All well and good, but the reason Hertha are in third place is predominantly down to the coolness of their strikers. Kalou (14 goals) and Ibisevic (9) do not need many chances to score. Kalou in particular is a master in efficiency. He has taken just 38 shots this season, with 21 on target and 14 finding the back of the net. Extraordinary. The lessons from that? Defend accordingly and keep the ball away from goal. That’s what the match will depend on for Hoffenheim.