Team Manager Hardung: "It'll be an exciting autumn"

The draw for the group stages of the UEFA Champions League is approaching fast. TSG Hoffenheim Team Manager Timmo Hardung will be attending the event live in Monaco at 18:00 CET on Thursday evening. The 28-year-old planned the away days in Liverpool and the Europa League last season, but this term he faces a special challenge: planning for the Champions League proper.

Timmo, how are the preparations going for Hoffenheim's second season in European competition?

"As we weren't in the play-offs this season, we've had around one month more for planning. That extra time was very welcome, because we've also had to plan the Bundesliga season  the training camps, travel to away matches, hotel accommodation and in some cases airport transfers. In addition, I'm obviously benefiting from the experiences of last season. The UEFA regulations for the play-offs have been harmonised with those for the group stages, so we're already extremely familiar with the procedures and requirements."

Will the draw in Monaco be a special day?

"I'll be attending together with the management and our President Peter Hofmann, among others. It'll be an interesting event and one I'm very much looking forward to. It's also just a super feeling to know that we'll be involved when the draw takes place with all the absolutely top teams on Thursday, rather than waiting until Friday when the Europa League draw takes place. Though that was obviously an entirely new experience for us last year."

What happens after the draw?

"Immediately afterwards a conference room is made available for each group and you meet the delegations of the different group opponents. There's a first meeting to get to know each other and information is exchanged about training possibilities, hotels, airports, etc. That's when the excitement levels will go up a notch and our participation in the Champions League will become more tangible. Then the planning begins for me: together with our internal Champions League contact person, the so-called UEFA Main Contact Enrico Sallicia, I'll look at the regions of the opponents and the hotels. Before the matches we'll then fly to the respective match venues in order to prepare ourselves as best as possible for when we're on the ground there with the team. It'll be an intense and an exciting autumn."

What have you learned from the last year?

"When you do something for the first time, you naturally have a lot of thoughts in the run-up as to how you can organise as well as possible. And yet you inevitably think, in hindsight, that the procedures can be improved even further. Based on the experiences we had last season, we'll definitely become even more efficient this year and we'll be able to offer the players the perfect preparation for their matches."

Do you have any particular wishes for the group stage?

"I'll take it as it comes. And it'll be positive whatever happens: three top teams would leave us with an extremely difficult task, but that would be compensated for by matches in wonderful stadiums and mostly in cities worth seeing. I'm just looking forward to it and I'm incredibly excited."

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