Hoffenheim may have only secured their place for the 2013/2014 Bundesliga season via the relegation playoff, but they have enjoyed a dazzling start to the campaign, scoring a stunning total of fourteen goals in just the first five matches of the season, almost averaging three goals per match. Ligue 1 newcomer Anthony Modeste has played a vital role in delivering offense along with the up-and-rising youngsters Kevin Volland and Roberto Firmino.
The modest weapon up-front
Prolific strikers Vedad Ibisevic and Demba Ba helped Hoffenheim to Bundesliga promotion five seasons ago and an electrifying Hinrunde first-division debut for the village team. The pair remained a great asset while the club stayed competent on the top half of the standing for years. Since the departure of the aforementioned duo, Hoffenheim’s fate has been iffier. especially during last season survival by the skin of their teeth.
Markus Gisdol wasn’t impressed by the form of experienced Erin Derdiyok and Joselu, who used to play for the Spanish giants Real Madrid, and his first task in the transfer window was to bring in a striker who he can rely on delivering the goals. At first, many didn’t rate the signing of Anthony Modeste from French League 1 side Bordeaux. But, it has so far proved to be one of the bargain of the seasons, as the Frenchman already scored four Bundesliga goals, six in all competitions. Apart from scoring vital goals, Modeste gives plenty of options for the dynamic attacking line of Hoffenheim as his work rate and dominance in the air create all sorts of problems for the opposing defenses.
The sky is the limit for Kevin Volland
Since his transfer from second division side 1860 Munich, Kevin Volland quickly settled at the club and now, with only a year experience of a top flight football, is tipped to be the next star for the national team. The versatile midfielder possesses mesmerizing dribbling skills, a vision which is quite unbelievable for his age and a delicate finishing touch. His beautiful chip against Freiburg and the way he eluded Gladbach’s defensive line to double his side’s lead at the weekend further goes to show he continues to improve. As things stands, it’ll be not long before we see the German U-21 regular representing the senior nation team.
The natural # 10 at Rhein-Neckar-Arena
Roberto Firmino completes the fascinating attacking force for the village side as he is performing at top level. The Brazilian caught attention by participating directly in all five Hoffe goals (scoring twice and adding three assists) at Hamburg to create one of the surprising results of the early season. He has already become a fan favorite, and at the age of just 21, the future seems nothing but bright for the technically gifted player.
Besides the three who are making the headlines, new signing Tarik Elyounssi has enjoyed a good debut Bundesliga season. The pacy winger has featured in all of the five league matches and provided two of the goals from the left flank. The absence of injured Robert Firmino against Gladbach presented Kai Hardling with his starting debut and he remained solid throughout the match to help Hoffenheim for their first home win of the season. Familiar face Sejad Salihovic will return into action for the Wolfsburg trip after his suspension for a silly red card against Freiburg. Sven Schipplock continues to impress whenever he receives a chance and he is more than capable of delivering the goods when called for.
In contrast, Hoffenheim’s defense isn’t performing to expectations and remain second to last in terms of goals conceded with 13. Youngster Jannik Vestergaard, Argentinean David Abraham, skipper Andreas Beck and USA international Fabian Johnson have played together for long enough at the back to earn better results, but there remains work to do to improve on the overall team defending, which seemed especially fragile at Stuttgart a fortnight ago.
The Sinsheim side will face the hot-and-cold Wolfsburg at the Volkswagen Arena Saturday. The first two away matches of the season brought totally different experiences for Hoffenheim – a comfortable victory at Hamburg and a heavy defeat against Stuttgart. As for the Wolves, they have won both of their home matches this season despite losing all three matches on the road. Luis Gustavo saw a red card in two of those matches. and will miss the contest against Hoffenheim.
In the following midweek, Markus Gisdol’s troop will turn their focus on the DFB-Pokal as they host second division side Energie Cottbus in the second round of the cup. Cottbus suffered a frustrating 0-4 defeat at home against fellow promotion hopefuls 1. FC Köln on Monday.
In the first five weekends of the Bundesliga season, Hoffenheim’s matches produced 27 goals (14 for and 13 against) in total which is the league’s highest. One way or another, goals are pretty much guaranteed when Hoffenheim is playing. Not the best team in the Bundesliga, Hoffenheim are at the least an entertaining side and a ‘must-see’ team for fans who love high-scoring contests.
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