#TSGSGE preview: "We've had a real influx of quality"

Matchday 12 in the Bundesliga is almost upon us and Hoffenheim will welcome Eintracht Frankfurt to Sinsheim. It’s a clash of seventh and fifth in the Bundesliga and kick-off will take place at 15:30 on Saturday 18th November. Hoffenheim’s head coach Julian Nagelsmann gave his thoughts on Niko Kovac’s side.

Julian Nagelsmann on... 

... the opponents.

Eintracht have a great coach and a lot of quality. Niko Kovac always knows how to make the most of his players and the team employs a variety of different play styles and systems. That’s a big reason why they’re tough to go up against. Their squad also has a good variety of players which was helped by the new faces they acquired in the summer who have different skill sets. Despite that, squad integration hasn’t been an issue, because they’re all working towards a common goal. They’re a gritty side that plays with a lot of emotion. All of that in combination makes them very dangerous. They’re very deserving of their current position in the table, even if very few experts had predicted that to be the case.

... the squad.

With Ermin Bicakcic, Serge Gnabry, Adam Szalai and Robert Zulj making their return to training in the last few weeks, we’ve had a real influx of quality. All of these players will help us a lot on the pitch in the coming weeks. They’re not quite at 100 percent just yet due to their long spells with injury, but I’m hoping that they’ll be available for selection very soon. Adam has made good strides in training for example, but his legs are also a bit weary from doing so, so he’s probably the furthest away from making his return to the matchday squad. Pavel Kaderabek is also questionable. His rehab has been going well and he will make his return to training on Thursday, but he won’t be ready in time for the game on Saturday. We also have to wait and see on Benjamin Hübner’s status. He’s still grappling with an injury he picked up just before the game in Istanbul. Stefan Posch and Dennis Geiger will definitely be available on Saturday, and I’m also quite confident that Kerem Demirbay will too. He had an edema on his heel, but he wasn’t suffering from any pain on Wednesday.

... the sporting situation, part 1.

We’ve got a lot of games ahead of us in the coming weeks, so it’s important that the squad manages to avoid injury as much as possible. The players have gained a lot of experience over the last few weeks and have had to deal with an increased workload. It’s not just the physical side that’s important though - having the right mindset is really important too. It’s getting colder outside, the grass is getting longer, the sun doesn’t shine as much and the birds aren’t singing. In this kind of situation you’ve got to work through the urge to not push yourself to improve. You have to prepare yourself mentally.

... the sporting situation, part 2.

In the international break it wasn’t really possible to incorporate any new tactics due to the fact that we only really had about seven or eight first team players in training. The squad was mainly made up of U23 players that we brought up. In general, due to the high workload in recent weeks, we haven’t pushed the team that much in training. It’s a little frustrating for me, because I enjoy our training sessions. It’s the thing that I enjoy most about my job. I have a few ideas on how we could avoid this happening again and have more players training during these breaks in the future though. We’ll hopefully have a video system up and running in December with virtual reality. The aim is to make sure the players are always improving, without putting constant strain on their bodies.

... Sandro Wagner and FC Bayern Munich’s interest.

We’ve been aware of Bayern’s interest in Sandro for a while now, as well as his own interest in them. All parties are in communication about his future. I always try to put myself in the player’s shoes to understand where they’re coming from. Sandro’s family live near to Munich and he also played in FC Bayern’s youth setup - so I can understand why he would want to go there. There are no hard feelings at all. As always when it comes to transfer news, we will report something when there is something to report. There are lots of moving parts in the process of transfers, like whether you can find an adequate replacement and agree on a reasonable fee.

Head-to-head history

Hoffenheim’s history against Eintracht Frankfurt is a positive one - TSG have won eight of the 16 games that have been played, as well as drawing another five. Eintracht have only won once in their last eight clashes, which was more than two years ago.

The opponent's form

Eintracht are unbeaten since Bundesliga matchday 6 and are also through to the third round of the DFB-Pokal after a 4-0 victory against Schweinfurt. Niko Kovac’s side are on a roll. Ever since they came back from a two goal deficit to earn a 2-2 draw with Dortmund, the men from Frankfurt are playing with a lot of confidence. It’s still “a surprise” to sporting director Bruno Hübner that his team are currently lying in seventh place though, as he recently mentioned to the “Frankfurter Neue Presse”.

The key battle

Hoffenheim have the fourth best attack in the Bundesliga, while Frankfurt have the second best defense. Frankfurt will look to make themselves feel at home in the game from the outset, and give TSG as little space as possible. Creativity and patience will be needed to crack open the Frankfurt defence. Julian Nagelsmann and his side know that will be a big challenge, just as it was last season. Hoffenheim came away as 1-0 victors at home after a late goal from Benjamin Hübner, while the return fixture ended in a goalless draw. It’s very important that Hoffenheim remain balanced, however. Frankfurt have some very dangerous goal threats in the form of Haller, Rebic and Boateng, so Hoffenheim will have to be prepared defensively.

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