TSG Hoffenheim have dropped off in recent months under Pellegrino Mattarazzo

Following their run of six wins in the first nine games of the Bundesliga campaign, Hoffenheim have only managed one more win.

In contrast, 1. FC Köln won their first tie under new head coach Timo Schultz last weekend in a two-nil victory against Eintracht Frankfurt at the RheinEnergieStadion.

In a similar fashion, this win came all the way back in early December against VfL Bochum.

Another warning sign for Hoffenheim ahead of their clash with Köln  will be their lack of home form.

This lack of form at home has seen them with the fourth-worst home record in the Bundesliga this season.

In spite of this, Hoffenheim have proved to be a tough fixture for Köln as they have only lost one of twelve games against the Billy Goats.

Even though they won on Saturday, Köln were unable to move above bottom place in terms of goals scored as a club in the Bundesliga. 

The carnival side have only managed a record low fourteen goals in the 2023-24 Bundesliga campaign.

Team News

TSG Hoffenheim

For Hoffenheim, Marco John has sustained a knee injury and will be unavailable for Sunday's game.

John Brooks is also out but due to a yellow card suspension ahead of the Köln tie. Mergim Berisha will be out with a knee injury and midfielder Finn Ole Becker will be a doubt ahead of the match due a knee issue.

1. FC Köln

1. FC Köln will still be without Davie Selke and Luca Waldschmidt who have been injured since the club's clash with Heidenheim during Timo Schultz' first Bundesliga game with the club.

Mark Uth has sustained yet another knee injury and therefore will miss the game on Sunday. Youngster Justin Diehl is unavailable due to illness despite having rejoined training.

Both Timo Hübers and Philipp Pentke are doubts due to illness and back problems respectively.

Predicted Lineups

TSG Hoffenheim:

Baumann (c); Kabak, Grillitsch, Nsoki, Kadeřábek; Stach, Prömel, Bülter, Kramarić; Weghorst, Beier

1. FC Köln:

Schwäbe (c); Schmitz, Chabot, Heintz, Finkgräfe; Huseinbašić, Martel, Ljubicic, Kainz (c), Alidou; Thielmann

Key Players

TSG Hoffenheim - Maximilian Beier

 

Scoring eight goals this season, Maximilian Beier has been a source of consistent goals for a very inconsistent Hoffenheim side.

Partnering in attack with the tall but prolific Wout Weghorst, Beier has managed to fuel Hoffenheim's efficient striking force this season.

Between the two players, they have managed thirteen goals this campaign.

His powerful and precise right foot has proved a problem for many goalkeepers but 1. FC Köln's Marvin Schwäbe is one of the toughest opponents for strikers in the Bundesliga.

Beier is often implemented in a two-striker attack and likes to play off a main, tall striker as a secondary strike partner.

Learning from experienced players like Andrej Kramarić and Oliver Baumann, the twenty-one-year-old Germany under-21 international still has a lot of room to grow.

1. FC Köln - Dejan Ljubicic

 

Having been implemented by head coach Timo Schultz in a new position at left midfield, Dejan Ljubicic produced a standout performance against Eintracht Frankfurt

Always running heavily throughout games with purpose, Ljubicic also ranks fifteenth in the entire Bundesliga for overall intensive runs.

Still yet to score this season, Ljubicic's last goal for Köln was the penalty he scored on the last day to peg Bayern Munich back to second in the table (before Jamal Musiala scored).

The Austrian had attracted the likes of VfL Wolfsburg in the summer, but with the club refusing to sell him for the asking price he stayed at Köln.

Ljubicic also has overtaken Florian Kainz's role as a wide midfielder and a goal creator (with Kainz amassing a superb ten assists last campaign).

Match details

Where is the match being played? 

The match is being played at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena in Sinsheim, Baden-Württemberg.

What time is kick-off?

The match is set to kick-off on Sunday at 16:30 (GMT) and is the last game of the Bundesliga match week.  

Where can I watch? 

Viewers in the UK can watch the game on Sky Sports Football or via the Sky Sports App, with coverage starting at 16:30.

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About the author
Moritz Baer
Sports Journalist based in Bournemouth. Runs own website (https://www.futmo.com/).