TSG 1899 Hoffenheim vs Borussia Dortmund Preview: Nagelsmann's unbeaten put to the test against BVB

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim vs Borussia Dortmund Preview: Nagelsmann's unbeaten put to the test against BVB

Both sides face off at the Wirsol Rhein-Neckar Arena with Julian Nagelsmann looking to keep up his side's incredible unbeaten record so far this season.

Ninad Barbadikar

Matchday 15 sees two of the top six teams battle it out to cut the points gap to the top of the table as TSG 1899 Hoffenheim host Borussia Dortmund at home.

Julian Nagelsmann's side have remained unbeaten in the league so far this season and will face a stern test against Thomas Tuchel's Dortmund who can be as good as any team on their day.

Hoffenheim's incredible unbeaten run has seen them climb up to 4th in the Bundesliga standings. Nagelsmann has done a wonderful job so far with the team and will hope to continue that good work when Dortmund come knocking at the Wirsol Rhein-Neckar Arena, where Hoffenheim made light work of their last visiting opponents 1. FC Köln with a 4-0 demolition. However, things might not be as easy against Dortmund.

Dortmund's season has been one of inconsistency and that inconsistency sees them sixth in the table and battling to reach the top three to finish alongside Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig.

Dortmund's form away from home has been poor this season, Tuchel's men have only managed to win two of the seven away games they've had and will look to end that by getting a victory against Hoffenheim, which is easier said than done.

Nagelsmann's Hoffenheim side are only one of two side all across Europe to be unbeaten in their league season and beating them will certainly be a huge confidence boost for Dortmund's season.

Hoffenheim difficult to play against and hard to beat

To think that Julian Nagelsmann was steering his side through a relegation battle just last season and this season they're well on course for a top six position, it just shows how far this Hoffenheim side has come and how the young mind of Nagelsmann has changed things completely and for the better.

Hoffenheim remain unbeaten so far in the season going into the game against Dortmund, where they know that a victory will get them another step closer to the top of the table and put pressure on the likes of Leipzig and Bayern.

Hoffenheim are fourth on the Bundesliga table as things stand and a victory against Tuchel's Dortmund could see them move up to third place in the table. Battling to qualify for the Champions League this season would've seen something Hoffenheim fans had only dreamed about, but now they're living the reality and things can only get better for Nagelsmann's side from here on.

Nagelsmann has tried different variations with his tactics but has largely played a 3-1-4-2 system where Sandro Wagner and Andrej Kramaric spearhead their attack. The duo have been in good form this season and have contributed a goal or an assist 15 times combined this season and Nagelsmann will be hoping the duo can cause Dortmund's shaky backline problems and take advantage of their inability to keep cleansheets away from home.

Historically speaking, this fixture has gone Dortmund's way in the past with their last encounter in late February this year resulting in a 3-1 victory. Things look very different this time around and getting three points against Hoffenheim will be a real challenge for Tuchel's men.

Dortmund will need to be at their attacking best to end poor away form

It's safe to say that Dortmund haven't had the greatest of seasons this year, Tuchel's side have struggled for consistency for much of the season and have looked very shaky defensively since the departure of the likes of Mats Hummels and Ilkay Gündogan. They were battling for the title last season and this season they are struggling to get into the top six, it has been a concerning season for Tuchel but his young team has shown signs of brilliance this season.

Die Schwarzgelben have been poor away from home this term and while they have managed to beat top sides like Bayern, they have also dropped points against lesser opponents where they really should've stepped up and grabbed all three points, but they haven't done that and it is that very inability to remain consistent that sees them 6th in the table at the moment. If Tuchel's boys manage to pull off a victory against Hoffenheim, they will overtake them into third place and give their season a much better look than it has been so far.

The excellent form of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been something to be positive about, as well as the return to form of Marco Reus, both players were vital to last season's title challenge and will play a pivotal role this season if Tuchel's men are to get where they want to be, at the top of the table, challenging for the title alongside the likes of Bayern.

Aubameyang leads the goalscoring charts this season with 15 goals and looks well set for the top scorer prize this time around, his goal-scoring instincts will be important for Dortmund to get around Hoffenheim's defence which has been penetrated but has still managed to hold firm and keep out attackers to remain unbeaten so far.

Dortmund have historically always managed to get the better of Hoffenheim and have emerged victorious on four of their past six meetings and drawing the other two, Tuchel's side have never had three games consecutively without a victory away from home and will look to continue their excellent run of form against Hoffenheim.

Predicted XIs and injury news

Nagelsmann has no real injury concerns ahead of this game, with only Sebastian Rudy and Kerem Demirbay doubts to make the team. Both players are key to Nagelsmann's system and he will hope they can be fit in time for the game.

TSG Hoffenheim 1899: (3-4-3) Baumann; Süle, Vogt, Hübner; Kaderabeck, Polanski, Rupp, Toljan; Kramaric, Wagner, Amiri

For Tuchel, worries are all over the defence and midfield as Marc Bartra, Sokratis, Lukasz Piszczek and Erik Durm are all out injured which has forced Tuchel to tinker with his defence and play a make-shift back four. This defence will be tested against the dominant Wagner and clever attacking play of Kramaric. 

Roman Bürki is still out injured as the veteran Roman Weidenfeller keeps his place in the side. The likes of Raphael Guerreiro, Nuri Sahin, Gonzalo Castro and Sebastian Rode are all out injured in what has become something of an injury crisis for Tuchel's staff. The Dortmund boss wil be hoping he gets all his players back in time for the key part of the season ahead.

One positive for Tuchel is the return of Shinji Kagawa and Mario Götze to the side, both players' creativity will have been missed by the team and their return will certainly boost the team's attacking credentials.

Borussia Dortmund: (4-1-4-1) Weidenfeller; Passlack, Ginter, Bender, Schmelzer; Merino; Dembélé, Weigl, Götze, Reus; Aubameyang.