A new challenge awaits the U23s in Balingen
With four years' experience as the U23 head coach, Marco Wildersinn can calmly put the first two results of the season into perspective. While 2-1 defeats to TSV Steinbach and SV Waldhof Mannheim do not make for optimal reading, the coach does not see any reason to be unsettled. "We've been missing that little something in certain areas, but nobody at the club is panicking," said Wildersinn ahead of the Balingen match, adding: "We've played against Steinbach and Waldhof, they're two really good teams that have big ambitions."
Wildersinn believes the challenge awaiting his team on Wednesday will be of a different nature. "We were the underdogs against Mannheim," the TSG coach explained. "But against Balingen we'll be seen as the favourites instead. We know that and we'll need to gear ourselves up for that." His charges could find they have more possession of the ball than they did in the derby, as Balingen sit back and let TSG take the initiative.
However, TSG must under no circumstances underestimate the newcomers. Wildersinn said: "They're a team that deserve to be in the Regionalliga. They showed that against Mainz 05 II on the first day of the season." Balingen won that match by a 2-0 scoreline.
Marco Wildersinn will have the same squad that featured against SV Waldhof Mannheim at his disposal. But that does mean he is still without captain Robin Szarka, who serves the final match of his two-game suspension.
"Whether we're able to call on one or two players from the senior squad will be decided at short notice," said Wildersinn. The TSG Hoffenheim first team returned from their training camp in Upper Austria to Zuzenhausen on Sunday.
Since the beginning of the week, there has been another goalkeeper in the U23 squad. Sebastian Gessl, who last played for Karlsruher SC, is the new signing.
TSG Balingen comfortably came top of the pile in the Oberliga Baden-Württemberg last season, finishing on 78 points − seven ahead of runners-up FC 08 Villingen − and earning promotion. It will be the first time that the team from the Zollernalbkreis district has played in the Regionalliga. They were last promoted in 2007/08, when they went up to the Oberliga.
They have entered their debut campaign in the Regionalliga with a largely unchanged squad. Only three signings were brought in to bolster the squad during the summer transfer window, while only two players departed the club.
One player of particular interest is Spaniard Pablo Gil, who plied his trade for Balingen's main Oberliga rivals Villingen last term. Gil has made three international appearances for the Spain U19 team, was part of the Real Madrid B squad between 2010 and 2012, and also made two appearances for Sparta Prague in the Czech top-flight in the 2012/13 campaign.
Balingen's record to date is even. They followed up their 2-0 win over Mainz 05 II in front of 1,300 spectators on Matchday 1 with a 2-0 loss at SSV Ulm.
Runs and previous meetings
This will be the first-ever clash between the U23s and Balingen in the Regionalliga. However, the TSG reserves did spend the 2008/09 and 2009/10 seasons alongside Balingen in the Oberliga, playing against them on four occasions. There were three wins for the U23s (3-1, 2-1, 3-0), while Balingen claimed one 2-0 win on home turf.
A look at the league
It would be premature to make conclusions based on the first two rounds. The table is little more than a reflection of the immediate past and may change significantly very quickly at this stage of the season. Four teams have taken maximum points so far: SSV Ulm, Wormatia Worms, FK Pirmasens and TSV Steinbach. Meanwhile, there are two Bundesliga reserve teams alongside the TSG U23s who have yet to pick up a point: SC Freiburg II and Mainz 05 II. Newly-promoted side Hessen Dreieich have also lost both games.
However, the ranking table will almost certainly look very different by the time the TSG U23s kick off in Balingen. Because that Hoffenheim match is the only one on Matchday 3 that is scheduled for Wednesday, with all the others set to take place on Tuesday.
TSG Balingen vs TSG 1899 Hoffenheim II
Wednesday 8 August, 19:00 CET, BIZERBA-Arena Balingen