FC Augsburg - TSG 1899 Hoffenheim Preview
Ádam Szalai scores against FCA back in August. Image Credit: kicker.de

An intriguing game will bring the first weekend of Rückrunde action to a close tomorrow or today depending on when you’re reading this. Before Sunday’s earlier game between Werder Bremen and Hertha BSC we had already seen 19 goals in 7 games. Hopefully Sunday won’t let us down.

This fixture at the start of Hinrunde saw Hoffenheim run out 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Tarik Elyounoussi, scoring his first Bundesliga goal for the club, and Ádam Szalai scoring on his club debut. It actually put Hoffenheim top for the first week of the Bundesliga before the juggernaut that is Bayern Munich took over.and have stormed clear.

Since then the club from Sinsheim have steadily made their way down the top half of the table to their current position of 7th after Saturday’s results. The club’s ambition is clearly to reach the Europa League and whilst 7th is just on the border of making it, they’re only four points off of FC Schalke in 4th and are looking refreshed after their trip to Johannesburg.

Apart from Niklas Süle whose season is sadly over after he tore his ACL and Jin-Su Kim who played in the Asian Cup Final on Saturday, Markus Gisdol has his whole squad to choose from. In the Rückrunde they lost Koen Casteels, who was third choice keeper, and Jannick Vestegaard, both to Bremen. However, rather than go out and buy a replacement they have promoted from within with Nicolai Rapp, the Captain of the U19 side, promoted to the first team squad. He will be back up in the defensive positions.

It has also just been announced that Jiloan Hamad and Guilhermo Biteco have left the club on loan to Standard Liege and FC Santa Cruz respectively.

Augsburg sit one place above their opponents and have surprised everyone with their lofty position in the table. Since saving Augsburg from relegation in 2013 Markus Weinzierl has worked wonders with this side. Last season they outdid themselves and then some, only narrowly missing out on European qualification. However in the summer they lost star man André Hahn and many predicted this to be the season they finally return to the second tier. But they have done even better this time around.

With no truly outstanding players they play as one and as a collective they can be brilliant, they’ve already beaten the likes of Borussia Mönchengladbach. In the Rückrunde their standout arrival was Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg on loan from Bavarian rivals Bayern as he looks for more game time. If he can combine with Daniel Baier and Tobias Werner then Augsburg have quite a dangerous looking dangerous looking midfield on their hands.

Speaking to in his pre-match press conference Weinzierl said; “we want to win for our fans and prove our strength at home”. Gisdol also spoke and he was wary of his opponents saying they’re “not the ideal opposition” to return against. This week in the Bundesliga is known as Englischer Woche or English Week thanks to the teams having to play three times in a week and Gisdol said; “It’s strange to start with three games in a week”.

Coach Markus Weinzierl watches Raul Bobadilla in training. Image Credit: kicker.de