On February 10th 2016, Julian Nagelsmann became the head coach of TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. One year later, the young man is still here and his team will face VfL Wolfsburg at the Volkswagen Arena. For both teams, three points would be huge despite their differing situations with the teams at opposite ends of the table.
Since the start of the season, the home side have been in trouble. After another defeat on Matchday 7 in mid-October, they sacked their manager, Dieter Hecking and replaced him with the Frenchman, Valérien Ismaël. Though, even with this move, the club from Lower Saxony are still suffering and have won only four games under Ismaël.
As a result, the Wolves are 14th with only 19 points, the same total as Hamburger SV who won 3-0 against RB Leipzig on Saturday. That is why a victory for them on Sunday would be important, to not lose priceless ground in the relegation battle. Nevertheless, it will not be easy against one of the best Bundesliga sides this season.
Indeed, Hoffenheim and their young head coach have lost just one game this season in Bundesliga. It was against Leipzig after being down to ten men after Sandro Wagner received a red card. That aside, they have won eight games and drawn 10 times. They have as many points as Borussia Dortmund, having played a game less and will hope to take advantage of slip-ups from their fellow European-chasers yesterday.
High expectations for both trainers
During their respective press conferences, Ismaël and Nagelsmann expressed their feelings before the game. For the Wolfsburg head coach, this game will be a tough one: "Hoffenheim are very stable and consistent in their performances. It will be a tough home game against an opponent who look to expose any gaps they find."
He says his team must give everything, as always: "We need to be courageous and discipline, whilst showing the right mentality. Regardless of who our opponents are, we must always display those attributes." The French manager also said that his team “must decidedly improve [its] switching of the play to attack compared to the cup game and pick up where [they] left off in the final ten minutes”. He added that “it will be important to find the balance between our attacking and our defensive game”.
On the other hand, Nagelsmann analysed the situation of their opponents well as their tactics: “They are not having the season they would have hoped for but they will still be extremely dangerous on Sunday." He continued, "They play a little bit more defensive than Wolfsburg teams of years gone by and they perhaps do not change the play up as quickly as they would like but they have some exceptional footballers in their squad who have the ability to decide a game.”
The 29-year-old also added that Wolfsburg have good players such as Yunus Malli, Mario Gomez or Daniel Didavi, and the team will certainly have “taken a lot of that performance” against Bayern Munich in DFB-Pokal despite the loss.
The coach also spoke about his team which are working well, with “everyone contributing to the overall success”. He feels the best way to celebrate his first year as Hoffenheim head coach would be “three points”.
Plenty of players are going to miss the clash
The home side will have to do without Philipp Wollscheid, Victor Osimhen and Justin Möbius and maybe Joshua Guilavogui who felt pain in his calf during the warm up ahead of Pokal game against Bayern Munich. However, Christian Träsch will certainly make his comeback in the squad as he took part in team training this week.
The Blue and Whites will have to do without Jeremy Toljan, Fabian Schär and Lukas Rupp as they did not train this week. Otherwise, everyone should be able to travel to Wolfsburg.