October 24, 2017

2015-2016 Season Preview: TSG 1899 Hoffenheim

2015-16 Season Preview: TSG Hoffenheim

TSG Hoffenheim

Full Club Name: Turn- und Sportgemeinschaft 1899 Hoffenheim e.V.

Founding Year: 1899 as an athletics club with the football club founded in 1920

Stadium Name: Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena (30,150 capacity)

Nickname: Die Kraichgauer (From Kraichgau region), achtzehn99 (1899)

Colors: Blue-white

Rivals: VfB Stuttgart

2014-15 Finishes:

2. Bundesliga: 8th (44 points, -6 GD)

DFB Pokal: Quarter finals (2-3 AET loss to Borussia Dortmund)

Top Goal Scorer: Kevin Volland (10 in all competition (8 in Bundesliga))

“60-second dossier”

Number of Matches won by 2 or more goals: 5

Number of Matches won by 1 goal: 7

Number of Matches drawn: 8

Number of Matches lost by 1 goal: 5

Number of Matches lost by 2 or more goals: 9

Number of matches in which a lead was blown, resulting in loss: 2

Number of matches in which a lead was blown, resulting in draw: 4

Number of matches in which a deficit was overcome to earn a draw: 2

Number of matches in which a deficit was overcome to earn victory: 0

2014-15 Season Summary

There were mixed emotions among Hoffenheim fans ahead of the 2014-15 season start. They saw their team undoubtedly jump to the top of the league’s entertainment table with goals flooding either way at will in the previous campaign, but the fun should have included better defensive performance, at least to some extent, for the sake of consistent results. Thus all the talk in the pre-season involved solidifying the depleted back-line in pursuit of a European berth. Oliver Baumann – who is one of Germany’s highly-rated up-and-coming goalies (if we really insist on forgetting the horrendous showing against HSV in his last season at Freiburg) – and Bosnian international Ermin Bičakčić arrived last summer to provide defensive stability. The most effective defensive move resulted from promoting youngster Niklas Süle to the first team, though, as he capped his solid performance by scoring one of the only four goals Bayern Munchen conceded in the entire Hinrunde before an injury kept him sidelined the entire second half of Hoffe’s season.

Although there were high-scoring matches here and there (most notably defeats against Köln, which saw twelve goals shipped in just two encounters), Hoffenheim had a normal season last year. Unfortunately there was not much improvement to be found in the standings, as they once again finished outside the European places. The attacking department was in no way near the standard Hoffenheim set a season earlier, with star players Roberto Firmino and Kevin Volland showing a noticeable drop in performance. The latter picked up some form in the Rückrunde with a fine scoring run, but it was as if there was not much to play for the rest of the guys, as Hoffenheim only collected the same points tally as the awful Hamburg did in 2015 (18).

Motivation wasn’t to be questioned in the middle of the park, though, as Eugen Polanski and Pirmin Schwegler each had a strong season with commanding performances week-in, week-out. But that wasn’t enough to win neutrals’ hearst like the previous goals-galore campaign, as Hoppenheim (the nickname driven from benefactor Dietmar Hopp) are one of the unpopular clubs in the Bundesliga. Even though Wolfsburg’s recent success and Leipzig’s surge somehow hindered the fact that they also made it to the top-flight with the help of loads of money invested to the club, most Bundesliga fans still prefer seeing more of a traditional-laden or a low-budget minnow instead of clubs like Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga.

Nonetheless, they are not a free-spending side, and actually pulled off a great transfer coup this summer by selling rising star Roberto Firmino to Liverpool for a record sum in the Bundesliga history. In addition to the Brazilian wizard, who had been at the club for five years, Hoffenheim also bid farewell to Sinsheim favorites Andreas Beck, Sejad Salihović and Sven Schipplock. They didn’t spend back the money for replacements either, as they are counting on the squad at hand, and only captured undiscovered talents with reasonable price tags. Only relegated sides Freiburg and Paderborn draws lesser crowds than Hoffenheim last season, not to mention the seating capacity for that duo is well far below that of Rhine-Necker-Arena. Attendance in Sinsheim might not be improved this coming season, but if they could make it to Europe at long last, the club could attract a much-needed interest that could bolster their fanbase.

2014-15 Trivia

If we only count goals scored by German players, Hoffenheim would have been cellar-dweller in the standings alongside Hannover. (Side note: Bayern would still be champions, though a mere two-points would separate them from Bayer Leverkusen)

Money Matters

Roberto Firmino’s switch to English Premier League left Hoffenheim with the healthiest transfer balance sheet in the overall Bundesliga. In fact, their profit is twice more than Mainz did, who come second in the list.

Summary: € 39.6 mil (€ 55.9 mil earned and € 16.3 mil spent)

Arrivals:

Fabian Schär (from FC Basel) – € 3.9 mil

Jonathan Schmid (from SC Freiburg) – € 3.6 mil

Pavel Kaderábek (from Sparta Praha) – € 3.6 mil

Joelinton (from Sport Club do Recife) – € 2.16 mil

Mark Uth (from SC Heerenveen) – € 2.16 mil

Marko Maric (from Rapid Vienna) – 490,000 €

Antonio Colak (from 1. FC Nürnberg) – 490,000 €

In-Hyeok Park (from KyungHee Univ.)

Kevin Kuranyi (from Dinamo Moscow) – free transfer

Promoted from Hoffenheim U19: Philipp Ochs, Benedikt Gimber, Nicolai Rapp, Joshua Mees

Loan returnees: Jiloan Hamad (from Standard Liège), Filip Malbasic (from Lechia Gdansk)

Departures:

Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) – € 40 mil

Anthony Modeste (1. FC Köln) – € 4.4 mil

Afriyie Acquah (Torino, previously on loan at UC Sampdoria) – € 2.7 mil

Sven Schipplock (Hamburger SV) – € 2.45 mil

Andreas Beck (Besiktas) – € 1.72 mil

David Abraham (Eintracht Frankfurt) – € 1.47 mil

Luis Advíncula (to Bursaspor, previously on loan at Sporting Cristal Lima) – € 1.47 mil

Vincenzo Grifo (SC Freiburg, previously on loan at FSV Frankfurt) – 980,000 €

Michael Gregoritsch (to VfL Bochum, previously on loan) – 490,000 €

Tobias Weis (to VfL Bochum, previously on loan) – free transfer

Sejad Salihović (to GZ Rehne, China) – free transfer

Sandro Wieser (FC Thun, previously on loan at FC Aarau)

Grischa Prömel (Karlsruher SC) – Free transfer (buyout clause)

Loans: Antonio Colak (to 1. FC Kaiserslautern), Janik Haberer (to VfL Bochum), Marko Maric (to Lechia Gdansk), Marvin Schwäbe (to VfL Osnabrück), In-Hyeok Park (to FSV Frankfurt), Kevin Akpoguma (to Fortuna Düsseldorf), Júnior Ponce (to Universidad San Martín de Porres, previously on loan at Vitória Setúbal FC) and Christoph Martschinko (Austria Vienna)

(All figures courtesy of transfermarkt.co.uk)

The Boss

It was never an easy task for Markus Gisdol to save Hoffenheim from the drop when he unveiled as the club’s manager in April, 2013. With seven matches left in the calender and four points off from the playoff berth, Gisdol enjoyed a dream debut by comfortably beat fellow strugglers Fortuna Düsseldorf before getting the all-important win at Signal Iduna in the final matchday against the then-champions Borussia Dortmund in a dramatic manner, which sent Hoffenheim to the relegation/promotion playoff, where they comprehensively down Kaiserslautern. Hoffenheim have flirted with European berth since then, and Gisdol is fast becoming one of the sought after coach in the league. With his Klopp-alike goal celebrations and attacking philosophy, it’s a safe bet that Markus Gisdol is in a good shape to replace the former Dortmund coach as the Bundesliga’s charismatic trainer (plus Christian Streitch is relegated with Freiburg). Gisdol took his coaching badge in Köln alongside Augsburg’s own masterstroke Markus Weinzierl, Germany’s assistant coach Thomas Schneider and Tayfun Korkut, who was sacked by Hannover last season.

Odds:

Bwin = 7th place finish

Five-Year Record:

2010/11 (Bundesliga): 11th place (43 points, 0 GD), (DFB-Pokal): Quarter Finals

2011/12 (Bundesliga): 11th place (41 points, -6 GD), (DFB-Pokal): Quarter finals

2012/13 (Bundesliga): 16rd place (31 points, -25 GD), Relegation/promotion playoff win vs. Kaiserslautern (agg: 5-2), (DFB-Pokal): 1st Round

2013/14 (Bundesliga): 9th place (44 points, 2 GD), (DFB-Pokal): Quarter Finals

2014/15 (Bundesliga): 8th place (44 points, -6 GD), (DFB-Pokal): Quarter Finals

Questions with a Club Fan:

Thanks goes to Fanatic’s family member Ryan O’Grady (@1899banbridge) – who runs an independent blog on his beloved club, The Blue Miracle blog– for providing the answers.

Keep an eye out for . . . “I guess Nadiem Amiri is an obvious one, he won the U19 Bundesliga with our U19 side a couple of seasons ago and finished runner-up this past season. He was also at the U19 European Championships this summer with Germany. He started a few games towards the end of last season. Also keep an eye out for Joshua Mees and Philipp Ochs who between them managed 38 goals and 27 assists in the U19 Bundesliga last year and have been promoted to the senior set-up this summer.”

Terrace favorite . . . “Well, it was undoubtedly Sejad Salhiovic, but he, sadly, has moved on this summer. I guess Kai Herdling has to be in there due to his longevity with the club, as this will be his 13th year at the club save for a couple of short spells away. I think Niklas Süle deserves a mention as well. A local boy, Frankfurt, who has come up through the youth system and there is a lot of sympathy for him due to his knee ligament injury last year.”

Player you’d happily drive to another club . . . “Gisdol has done well in getting rid of the bad influences in the past like Tobias Weis and the less said about Tim Wiese the better. In the past few days there have been reports emerging that Adam Szalai is refusing to speak to the media and is not happy with his role at the club so if that persists I wouldn’t mind seeing him move on. Jiloan Hamad is another, not that I particularly dislike him but he’s barely played since moving from Malmo.”

Advice you’d give your manager . . . “This is something in football that annoys me but if I had to suggest something then it would be Rudy playing at right back. I know he does it for the national team now but he is the best passer we have and is more valuable to us in the middle. Hopefully a youngster like Kingsley Schindler can move up from the second team as a back up for the new signing Pavel Kaderabek.”

Opposition player you secretly admire . . . “I have a bit of a soft spot for BVB so I’d have to say players like Kevin Großkreutz and Jakub Blaszczkowski are the ones I’d admire. They know they’re not going to play every week yet every time they’re called upon they go out there and get on with it and their passion for the club is really something I like to see.”

Opposition player you despise. . . “Stefan Kießling for THAT ghost goal. First of all let me say that I can accept the referee made a mistake and that as far as I’m aware he wouldn’t have been able to overturn his decision anyway. However the actions of Kießbling are something that dug deep. As he heads the ball towards goal he knows it’s going wide and turns to put his head in his hands. Then when the ball sneaks in through the hole in the net and he notices he starts to celebrate and his lack of honesty really bugged me.”

Tip you’d give away fans . . . “I’m not going to try to sell Sinsheim as a great place to visit because quite frankly it isn’t, I should know as I’ve been four times, but there are a couple of good aspects. One is the museum that sits pretty much right across the bridge over a motorway from the stadium. Although I’ve never had enough time myself it’s said to be pretty good. Another is the journey itself, depending on where you’re coming from you quite often change in Heidelberg which I would recommend as a place to visit and the journey from there takes you along the banks of the Neckar.”

Where will you finish . . . “Quite a few people are tipping Hoffenheim for 5th this year, but as a club fan for few years now I’m always wary. It can’t be emphasized enough the effect Firmino had on the team, even if he didn’t play well he could maybe pull one skillful move and it would raise the spirits. However, the team of Markus Gisdol and Alexander Rosen, the sporting director, have again bought well so I think Europa League should be our aim for the season.”

Crucial Fixtures Stretch:

Hoffenheim will be thrown in the deep end of the business right from the off, as they face Champions League regulars Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern München in the first couple of matches of the season. With their disappointing first-round exit from the cup at the hands of 1860 München took an effect already, it would be difficult if they left empty-handed from the first two matchdays. The expectation would certainly be higher when they travel to freshly-promoted Darmstadt the next week. One noticeable pattern from their schedule is that they will never have a consecutive home (or away, for that matter) matches for the entire season.

Verdict

With Augsburg not expected to repeat their surprising campaign, not least with the additional Thursday fixtures of Europa League bugging them (not to say it’s an unnecessary tournament, for sure), and another year of experience for Markus Gisdol as a Bundesliga trainer, there is certainly a tangible hope for a European places finish. But for me, the team looks to be in a transition in the final third of the pitch, and with Dortmund and Schalke hoping to regain form, there would be a fierce competition for the top-six finish. (9th)

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Eskender born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Despite the geographical difference, he is interested in every detail of German football. He breathes football to the point that he gets pleasure from nutmegging his innocent kid. You can also follow him on Twitter @eskeBMG