Second season syndrome?

Promoted outfit Arminia Bielefeld sprang a surprise in the Bundesliga last season by beating the drop relatively comfortably. Ensuring their survival remains the aim again this term for the East Westphalians, who will play host to TSG Hoffenheim on Saturday (15:30 CET / Live Ticker at But if they are to keep their place in the division, they will need to improve – especially in attack.

There have been two sides to Arminia Bielefeld so far this season. Coach Frank Kramer's charges have been in convincing form at the back, conceding only five goals (the sixth-best defensive record in the league). That said, Arminia have only found the opposition net three times. Only Fürth (one goal) and Augsburg (two goals) have struggled more in front of goal. But Bielefeld are aware of where the issue currently lies and will be aiming to find the solution to their attacking problems against Hoffenheim.

Despite suffering a 3-1 away defeat to Borussia Mönchengladbach last Sunday, things are looking up. Bielefeld might have uncharacteristically conceded three times, but they did pose much more of a threat in front of the opposition goal. "We performed well. We were just lacking precision with our finishing. We only put one of our six clear chances in the back of the net," said Kramer as he reflected on a lack of clinical finishing that ultimately led to the first defeat of the season (after three draws on the bounce) despite probably the best display of the campaign. "Performances are going in the right direction. Picking up the points as well is obviously part of that, but I'm not worried about that. If we continue to play like we did, then the points will follow too," explained Kramer, who took charge of two of the TSG Bundesliga team's matches in December 2012, before returning to coach the U23s.

Bielefeld also have a player in their ranks who will be a familiar face to Hoffenheim: Robin Hack, who was a TSG player from 2012 to 2019, completed a move to Bielefeld in August. The wide man has played the full 90 minutes in both of the last two matches and looks set to go up against his former team-mates on Saturday. He has already made a valuable contribution to the East Westphalian club's attack in those two appearances.

TSG head coach Sebastian Hoeness has recognised the upward trend in the opposition's form and is wary of the division's 14th-placed side: "Bielefeld go forward quickly and their robustness makes them very dangerous from second balls too. They're very compact at the back and always capable of frustrating teams." In terms of personnel, Bielefeld have an almost full squad at their disposal. Amos Pieper returned to team training during the week, though there are still question marks surrounding the central defender's involvement. The two new signings Edimilson Fernandes and Sebastian Vasiliadis are certain to miss out, however.

Arminia secured their survival last season on the 34th and final matchday. Although the East Westphalians would dearly love to avoid a relegation dogfight that goes right to the wire this time around, they would undoubtedly welcome the same end result. Survival is the clear objective in Bielefeld. But to do so, the team will need to improve their record in front of the opposition goal.

For Saturday's match against TSG Hoffenheim, Arminia Bielefeld will welcome the staff from Klinikum Bielefeld  who have made, and continue to make, such a valuable contribution during the corona pandemic  to the Schüco-Arena. They have been invited by Arminia as part of the "Everyday Heroes" initiative. Bielefeld are expecting their third full house in as many home games this season, which means the attendance is likely to be the currently permitted 13,750 spectators.

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