Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football

Hoffenheim have enjoyed meteoric rise to the big time

The Bundesliga side are based in a village of little more than 3,000 inhabitants.

Hoffenheim made their Champions League debut last year (Nick Potts/PA)
Hoffenheim made their Champions League debut last year (Nick Potts/PA)

Manchester City travel to face Hoffenheim for the first time in the Champions League this week.

Here, Press Association Sport runs the rule over the Bundesliga club who have enjoyed a meteoric rise to the big time.

Current form

Kemer Demirbay could be given the chance to play at Anfield on a regular basis, according to the latest rumours.

Hoffenheim are struggling to build on last season’s third place finish which secured them a place in the Champions League.

They currently sit in 12th place after six games of this season’s Bundesliga campaign, and head into the City game on the back of a 2-1 home defeat to RB Leipzig.

Until that reversal Hoffenheim had gone three games unbeaten including a creditable 2-2 draw in their opening Group F match at Shakhtar Donetsk, when they twice let slip the lead.

Remarkable rise

Dietmar Hopp has bank-rolled Hoffenheim’s rise (Michael Probst/AP)

Hoffenheim did not play professional football until 2007 and were promoted to the Bundesliga just one season later.

The sudden improvement of the team from a village of little more than 3,000 inhabitants was made possible by investment from the German software billionaire Dietmar Hopp.

In their Champions League debut in 2017, they were defeated by Liverpool in the play-off round and dispatched to the Europa League, where they finished bottom of their group.

Notable players

Former Leicester striker Andrej Kramaric has established himself at Hoffenheim (Nick Potts/PA)

Former Chelsea and Newcastle star Demba Ba first emerged with Hoffenheim, scoring 14 goals in their first Bundesliga season.

Roberto Firmino also made 140 appearances for the club before moving on to Liverpool in 2015.

Former Leicester striker Andrej Kramaric played a major role in his side’s ascent to continental competition, scoring 15 goals when they finished fourth in the Bundesliga in 2017 and 13 more during their last successful campaign.

Much hope has been invested in 22-year-old Brazilian Joelinton, whom Hoffenheim hope could emerge as another Firmino, and is expected to play at least some part against City.

Screen test

Hoffenheim have adopted revolutionary training methods (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

Despite their relatively low-profile beginnings, Hoffenheim are a club at the cutting edge of technology.

At the end of last season they installed a 6×3 metre ‘video wall’ at their training ground, which enables coaches and players to freeze and replay action sequences during sessions, and to analyse opponents.

Hoffenheim are the only club in the Bundesliga to own such a facility, putting them ahead of even dominant force Bayern Munich.

The manager

Julian Nagelsmann is heading for RB Leipzig (Nick Potts/PA)

At the age of 31, Julian Nagelsmann has already attracted the epithet ‘Mini Mourinho’ for his strict and business-like approach to his role.

After his playing career was cut short through injury, Nagelsmann took up a position with Hoffenheim’s junior team before being handed the main role in 2016.

Nagelsmann saved the club from relegation in his first season before shaping a side which secured Champions League football for the first time.

Nagelsmann is in the unusual position of knowing where his immediate destiny lies. He announced in June that he will leave Hoffenheim at the end of the current season to take charge of Bundesliga rivals RB Leipzig from next season onwards.



From Belfast Telegraph