Hoffenheim are one of the newer German clubs challenging the older elite, and over the past couple of seasons they’ve done that brilliantly. Finishing third last season was a testament to their talented sporting structure, top young coach Julian Nagelsmann and maximisation of modern coaching methods.
While a Round of 16 exit to Werder Bremen in the DFB Pokal sounds like under-performance, their Europa League exploits were decent, considering it was totally new to everyone involved with the club.
Managerial Background – Julian Nagelsmann
A lot has been said about Julian Nagelsmann and over the span of the past few years he has become the symbol of change in the European coaching scenario. His methods and working style is detailed, planned and organised; while being tactically astute. His methods allow for the maximisation of his squad’s abilities, while developing young players. Nagelsmann highlights everything right about German football.
Arrivals of Kasim Adams, Leonardo Bittencourt, Vincenzo Grifo, Ishak Belfodil and Joshua Brenet would offset the departures in attack of Mark Uth to Schalke and Serge Gnabry who returns to his parent club, Bayern Munich.
Adams and Brenet allow for more depth and quality in the defence and wing-back positions for Nagelsmann’s favoured three-man defence. But probably the biggest departure is of Julian Nagelsmann himself, who’ll be leaving for RB Leipzig in 2019.
The departure of Mark Uth and Serge Gnabry means Hoffeinheim will lose quite some teeth in attack. While Leonardo Bittencourt has the talent to add his quality, other players like Andrej Kramaric and new signing Belfodil must step up.
Vincenzo Grifo is coming off an underwhelming year at Borussia Mönchengladbach and Nagelsmann has his work cut out to rebuild his confidence.
Nagelsmann will prove to be good once again and his tactical acumen means Hoffenheim will be in the top 6 as well, challenging Dortmund, Leverkusen, Leipzig and Schalke for a top 4 position. The Champions League may be a big challenge and while they’ll begin the tournament as talented underdogs, they might have a scalp or two.
Strongest XI (3-5-2)
Baumann – Akpoguma, Vogt, Bičakčić – Schulz, Demirbay, Geiger, Grillitsch, Kaderabek – Amiri, Kramaric.