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  • Preview: Hoffenheim vs. Bayer Leverkusen - Key Match Insights
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  • 19 March 2024

Preview: Hoffenheim vs. Bayer Leverkusen - Key Match Insights

When Hoffenheim hosts Xabi Alonso's club in the Bundesliga on Saturday, they want to become the first team this season to defeat Bayer Leverkusen. With a win, the league leaders, who have won 13 of their last 14 games across all competitions, will want to increase their advantage atop the standings.

Match preview

After fighting to avoid relegation for nearly the whole previous campaign, Pellegrino Matarazzo's Hoffenheim team has exceeded expectations this time around, winning six of their first nine games.

The most recent of those triumphs came last weekend when they defeated Stuttgart 3-2 on the road, with goals from Grischa Promel and Wout Weghorst putting the visitors up early. Stuttgart's main scorer Serhou Guirassy was sidelined by injury, but they still posed a serious offensive threat and twice rallied for a vital victory over Matarazzo's team.

Borussia Dortmund defeated Die Kraichgauer in the DFB-Pokal on Wednesday, winning the match for the sixth time in the two teams' history. Marco Reus scored against Hoffenheim for the second time this year. It has been nine seasons since the visitors have even advanced to the quarterfinals of Germany's domestic cup, and their current problems have been made worse by substitute Ozan Kabak's late red card.

In any event, though, Matarazzo and his team will be more concerned with their league performance, and considering that they are now in sixth place ahead of hosting Leverkusen, it seems reasonable that they will attempt to qualify for Europe. However, after three losses from their four home games this season, they will probably need to put up a drastically better show to overcome their upcoming opponents.

As Alonso's team is undoubtedly playing at a title-challenging level, only Bayern Munich, the defending champions, have kept Leverkusen from winning every game on all three of their fronts this season.

As Die Werkself were in the relegation zone when the Spaniard took over as manager in October 2022, they were actually a class act nearly from the start. Last Sunday, they easily defeated Freiburg at BayArena; goals from Florian Wirtz and Jonas Hofmann each side of halftime proved enough to put their opponents at bay, even if Manuel Gulde pulled one back late in the game. They were professional, not spectacular.

Wednesday's DFB-Pokal visit to SV Sandhausen gave Alonso's team a scare, as the third division team twice came close to pulling away from Leverkusen. Before Amine Adli's late brace gave his team a major gloss to their triumph, Adam Hlozek shattered the hearts of the hosts with the score still narrowly tied at 2-2 going into the last five minutes of normal time.

As a result, following a number of close calls in various tournaments over the last several decades, Leverkusen supporters are hoping for a magnificent triple, with their squad also maintaining a perfect record in the Europa League group stage. They definitely have the talent and confidence to advance far in both cup events.

Alonso, though, will be making sure that all of his players remain grounded, particularly with a challenging trip to Hoffenheim this coming weekend. But considering that second-place Bayern play Der Klassiker in Dortmund later on Saturday, they might widen their lead at the top of the table if they keep up their winning streak.

Team News

Due to long-term injuries, Hoffenheim will be without Dennis Geiger and Marco John. Pavel Kaderabek and Florian Grillitsch are also questionable after sustaining shin and hip problems, respectively, against Stuttgart last weekend.

Robert Skov and Andrej Kramaric have both recovered from recent injuries and could be thrown straight into the hosts' starting XI. Ihlas Bebou and Anton Stach replaced them against Dortmund in midweek, and they would probably do so from the start against Leverkusen should they be ruled out as expected.

Due to a persistent knee injury, Arthur will not be travelling with Leverkusen; otherwise, Alonso seems to have a fully-fit team at his disposal.

The former midfielder for Real Madrid and Liverpool made eight changes for his team's successful cup trip to Sandhausen on Wednesday. Players like Victor Boniface, Jeremie Frimpong, and Alex Grimaldo are almost guaranteed to start for the visitors in more crucial league games.

Possible starting lineup for Hoffenheim is as follows: Baumann; Kabak, Brooks, Vogt; Bebou, Promel, Stach, Skov; Kramaric; Weghorst, Beier

Possible starting lineup for Bayer Leverkusen is as follows: Hofmann, Wirtz; Boniface; Frimpong, Palacios, Xhaka, Grimaldo; Hradecky; Kossounou, Tah, Tapsoba;

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