Fully motivated Chinedu Obasi and Isaac Vorsah returned from the Africa Cup of Nations but Hoffenheim's coach Ralf Rangnick is not certain whether they'll be part of the squad. Obasi claims he's fit and ready to help his side win a first match after seven encounters without victory: "I am desperate to help the team." The 23-year-old took third place with Nigeria in Angola.
Simunic back in the squad
Meanwhile Josip Simunic is also available again having served his one match suspension after receiving five yellow cards, just like Maicosuel. Rangnick wants to approach the match "with determination and firm conviction, but also with calmness. We know how good the lads are. In training you can see that the guys still know where the net is. They just have to show it on Saturday. We want to be successful as a team."
Hannover without Balitsch and Cherundolo
Opponents Hannover 96 have been active on the transfer market shortly before the window closed. Brazilian playmaker Elson (previously VfB Stuttgart) and Aroune Kone (Ivory Coast, Sevilla FC) have been signed on a loan deal. Both could start against Hoffenheim: "We've signed a dangerous striker and someone who can distribute the ball well. That's exactly what we were missing lately", Hannover's coach Mirko Slomka said. The guests will lack the services of key player Hanno Balitsch though, who is sidelined for about two weeks. Steven Cherundolo hurt his shoulder and will miss out for about four weeks, while Ya Konan is also still unavailable.
Carlos Eduardo clinches victory for 1899
In the first match earlier this season, 1899 Hoffenheim didn't exactly impress with a great performance, but they still took all three points courtesy of a great move by Carlos Eduardo. The last match at Hoffenheim was a different story though: While the result was still somewhat decent (2-2 draw), two players of 1899 got seriously injured in the process: Andreas Ibertsberger tore his intra-articular ligament and Matthias Jaissle even ruptured his cruciate ligament, which sidelined him for six months.
Facts and figures
Rangnick will face his former assistant coach Slomka. Both were working for Hannover from 2001 until 2004 and led 96 to promotion.
Hoffenheim have won two of their three games against Hannover (one draw). On matchday four Hoffenheim won 1-0, courtesy of a goal scored Carlos Eduardo.
The 0-2 defeat against Schalke was the fourth consecutive loss for Hoffenheim. Hoffenheim never suffered four consecutive defeats in the Bundesliga before this, the last time they had four defeats in a row was in the Regionalliga in 2004/05.
Hoffenheim have failed to win one of their eight matches against top 5 teams in the Bundesliga and only scored two goals in the process. The only victories came against "small" teams - just like Hannover....