#VFBTSG preview: “Pedal to the metal, let’s go!”

The 2017/2018 season is nearing its conclusion. It’s crunch time. Matchday 33 brings with it some added incentive, as on Saturday at 15:30 CEST, Hoffenheim travel to face rivals VfB Stuttgart in what is a battle between the fourth and eighth placed teams in the Bundesliga. Julian Nagelsmann and look ahead to a game that has big implications in the push for the European qualification spots.

Julian Nagelsmann on...

... the opponents.

“What Stuttgart have managed to achieve over the last few weeks is extremely impressive, and I’m happy for Tayfun Korkut above all. I know him a bit better than a lot of my other contemporaries. I thought that some of the things the media were saying before he even completed his first training session were completely unacceptable. He’s managed to bring stability at VfB Stuttgart. The key to it all is an organised defence and the ability to adapt from defence to attack effectively and vice versa. Their two big, physical strikers are also a big help. Ginczek has a lot of pace and Gomez has an extraordinary sense for how to play the position. They’re in a rich vein of form and so their confidence is high. It will be a very difficult test without doubt.”

... the squad.

“Benjamin Hübner will miss out as things stand. We’ll also be without Pavel Kaderabek, who’s suspended, and also Serge Gnabry, Kerem Demirbay, Stefan Posch and Dennis Geiger due to injury. It’s a big chance for the players who haven’t played as much this season. They can be the ones to secure our spot in the Champions League and prove to me that they should be featuring in the first team more often. Every player who is in the squad has my trust. I expect the same from every player, regardless if they’re the twelfth or the 24th name on the team sheet. Pedal to the metal, let’s go.”

... the sporting situation I.

“Last weekend was very pleasant actually, as we played Hannover on Friday and could therefore sit back and see how all the other games unfolded over the weekend. Everything worked out in our favour, or at least not against us. We now find ourselves in fourth place. The standings have changed, but our approach hasn’t. We want to continue to be aggressive and play an attacking style of football. That’s the way this team has gone about things for two years now. We’re not going to start trying to defend our position, we’re going to continue to push and maybe even climb another spot higher in the table.

... the sporting situation II.

“I didn’t talk much about the big loss to Stuttgart in 2016, because I’m aware that there are a few players who weren’t a part of that. They wouldn’t have a clue what I was talking about. I’ve talked about that game a lot in the past, because it was a key moment in our battle to stay up. That game doesn’t affect how we’re preparing for this weekend, however.”

... the sporting situation III.

“I didn’t really believe we could reach fourth place about eight or nine weeks ago, it was only the idea that we might possibly squeeze into Europe again. Now we have the chance to reach the Champions League automatically which is unbelievable.”

The head to head

Hoffenheim and Stuttgart have met eachother 18 times in the Bundesliga. TSG have won five times, Stuttgart have won eight, while five games ended in draws. TSG have had the better of things in recent years though, having only lost once in their last six encounters. Stuttgart should not be taken lightly, however, as they are especially strong at home. They have the fifth best home side this season with 31 points to their name. Bundesliga high flyers Leverkusen, Schalke and Bayern have been the only teams to win in Stuttgart so far this season.

The opponent’s form

Ever since Tayun Korkut took over as head coach at the end of January, Stuttgart have only lost once in their next 12 games. Only Borussia Dortmund could beat them on matchday 29. Otherwise, they have come away with seven wins and four draws. At the beginning of Korkut’s reign as head coach, Stuttgart languished in 16th, but now his side now find themselves in eighth with 45 points. Just like Hoffenheim, Stuttgart are full of confidence.

The key battle

Both teams are going from success to success as the season draws to an end and both teams know what they are capable of. On Saturday, it will come down to which side can impose their strengths on the other side most effectively.

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