FC Ingolstadt 04 - TSG 1899 Hoffenheim Preview - Die Schanzer look to dispell last weeks horror show
Image credit: VAVEL (Jonny Walsh)

After last weekend's dismantling at the hands of Hannover 96, Ralph Hasenhüttl and FC Ingolstadt 04 return to home soil as they welcome struggling 1899 Hoffenheim to the Audi Sportpark in what proves to be an interesting clash.

Despite the defeat in Lower Saxony, it has been almost the dream start to life in the Bundesliga for die Schanzer. The Audi Sportpark side have broken a number of records and have the second best defensive record - behind only Bayern Munich - in their premier Bundesliga season.

They have beaten the likes of FC Augsburg, SV Werder Bremen and 1. FSV Mainz 05 on the road and have sat in the higher reaches of mid table throughout the Hinrunde. It's been quite the opposite for Huub Stevens, and Markus Gisdol before him, with die Achtzehn. After pushing for Europe in the previous seasons, the Sinsheim club have only managed a single victory so far this campaign at are marooned at the bottom of the standings with a mere nine points.

Pre-match comments

FCI manager, Ralph Hasenhüttl, was confident in the pre match press conference that he would see a response from his side, after the drubbing at the hands of Michael Frontzeck's die Roten. He stated, "The team has shown a very good response during the week - We will do well on Saturday!". However he was also wary of the threat Huub Stevens opposition could pose to his side, despite their lowly position; he said "Hoffenheim have a lot of quality - certainly much more than their place in the table would suggest."

Stevens, who was appointed die Achtzehn boss on the 26th October and is yet to win a game at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena, told reporters that he was pleased by the progress his side was showing - he said "Our situation is not easy, but I see development and I'm glad for it," he added "I don't know what will happen in Ingolstadt, but I do know that we have trained well and have made a step in the right direction."

FC Ingolstadt 04 team news

Die Schanzer will be without Danilo Soares, Markus Suttner and Moritz Hartmann for the clash in the heart of Bavaria, but save for the trio Ralph Hasenhüttl has a whole squad to choose from. The aforementioned Hartmann picked up a sprain in the defeat against Hannover 96 and has not recovered in time for this weekends fixture, whilst Danilo and Suttner have been absent prior to the last game. 

However, in a boost for the hosts dynamic winger Stefan Lex has been passed fit to play against Hoffenheim. The former Greuther Fürth II man made a his long awaited comeback in the home victory against SV Darmstadt 98 but suffered a setback and was absent for last weekends dire display. 

Therefore, Hasenhüttl is expected to field his prefered 4-3-3 formation. Tomas Pekhart is expected to be replaced by Lukas Hinterseer, whilst Hartmann should make the like-for-like change with Stefan Lex. Robert Bauer should continue at left back; the German youth international scored a sublime effort against Darmstadt.

Predicted line-up: Özcan; Levels, Matip, Hübner, Bauer; Roger, Morales, Groß; Lex, Hinterseer, Leckie. 

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim team news

Huub Stevens is more fortunate than his adversary, Hasenhüttl, in that he has a completely blemish free squad for the game at the Audi Sportpark - save for Eduardo Vargas who is major doubt.

Despite the potential absence of Vargas, Stevens should name the exact same starting eleven to the one that took to the field for the thrilling three all draw against Borussia Mönchengladbach last weekend. Eugen Polanski and Pirmin Schwegler will form a defensive duo in the heart of midfielder - the former Mainz man, Polanski, however is at risk of a yellow card suspension. 

Young Nadiem Amiri may well start once more; the product of the Hoffenheim youth system scored against André Schubert's side. Yet the major onus will be on Kevin Volland - the German international although not reaching the standards of last season, scored a superb chip against VfB Stuttgart. 

Predicted line-up: Baumann; Strobl, Süle, Schär, Kim; Elyounoussi, Polanski, Schwegler, Zuber; Amiri, Volland.

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