Pellegrino Matarazzo on…
…the strengths of 1. FC Köln: "The spectators will certainly play a role, but so will their intense style of play. The Köln players sprint a lot, it's extraordinary. That intensity – coupled with the emotional atmosphere in the stadium – is their greatest strength. We need a straightforward match and must shift the play into their half. We must not get caught up with beautiful football. The biggest danger would be if we underestimated Köln. It's down to us to show the sharpness that we had before the international period on the pitch. We know that Steffen Baumgart can get the players going, hence why we're prepared for a game with lots of fire."
…the international period: "The international players have picked up many positive results, many of them have scored goals. They're returning to the team with good energy. I've watched the highlights of all their games to see them in action. The players that were here also had a good time. Many lads were able to get game time in the friendly against Luzern, plus we held many individual talks. The youth players who moved up have made a good impression. It was a very good international period for us."
…the competition for places in the team: "I'm delighted with the situation. Competition for places combined with respect and acceptance can become our biggest weapon. It creates an increase in quality and sharpness in training, plus we can now react better in games. Every coach is happy about that. The competition for places is extremely welcome."
…the starting line-up: "There are some players who only returned from their national team today. We will test several different set-ups in training. We have made observations from the games and training sessions that will contribute to the decision. For me, it is fun to solve the task."
…the coaching battle with Steffen Baumgart: "I let myself get caught up by the game, not by the opposing coach. I can be emotional on the sidelines too, that has nothing to do with my opponent. I take away little from the other dugout."
…Robert Skov: "Skovi came on against Wolfsburg and immediately influenced the game. It was the second time in a row that our substitutes have come on and decided the game in our favour. That's what makes the battle for places so competitive. He's definitely an option for the starting XI, even if he did have a slight cold at the beginning of the week."
…the basketball world champions: "I'm delighted for German sport and about this upset, which also makes it special. I was already surprised by the semi-final result (editor's note: Germany beat Matarazzo's homeland of the USA), but the team deserved the title."
…the status of the team: "It's not about my satisfaction, but rather about the next step and keeping the standards high. The two new signings Mergim Berisha and Anton Stach have provided us with new options, but we still have to work out the right set-up. I'm happy with the squad and the energy of the team, we're ready for the game in Cologne."
The personnel situation
Ozan Kabak and Kevin Akpoguma are available once again. Pavel Kadeřábek and Umut Tohumcu are also options again after their injuries. Bambasé Conté, Dennis Geiger and Marco John remain sidelined. There is still a question mark hanging over Maximilian Beier, who took a knock to the back of his knee while on duty with the Germany U21s.
The head-to-head record
The record is clearly in TSG's favour: Hoffenheim have won 12 of the 24 Bundesliga games, while 1. FC Köln were victorious in only five matches. TSG have scored 51 goals in their meetings so far.
The opposition's form
1. FC Köln have picked up one point from their first three games of the season (1-1 draw in Frankfurt). Steffen Baumgart's team have also lost to BVB (1-0) and VfL Wolfsburg (2-1).
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