The weekend’s Bundesliga action gets underway on Friday evening when Hoffenheim welcome Hertha Berlin to the PreZero Arena for the 10th game of the season.
It is very much a mid-table clash with the hosts sat 11th in the table, one point and one position below the visitors, but with a considerably better goal difference after a couple of heavy defeats for Hertha.
After a perfect start to the campaign with a 4-0 win over Augsburg, Hoffenheim struggled to develop any momentum, taking just two points from the following four games.
Their form picked up either side of the most recent international break with two impressive home victories – 3-1 against a Wolfsburg side who were at that point second in the table, and then a 5-0 dismantling of FC Koln.
Die Kraichgauer were brought back down to earth with a bang away at the league leaders last weekend, however, as they lost 4-0 to the all-conquering Bayern Munich, with two goals netted in each half during a routine win.
The team’s performances on the road are the main cause for concern for manager Sebastian Hoeness, with his side picking up just four points from a possible 15 on offer to this point.
That will, of course, not be an issue on this occasion, and Hoeness watched his side bounce back impressively on home turf during the week, when they dispatched second-tier side Holstein Kiel 5-1 in the DFB-Pokal.
Hertha have produced a very all-or-nothing season so far, with four victories, five losses and no draws in their first nine league games.
Those losses have often been heavy ones too – Robert Lewandowski’s hat-trick helped Bayern to a 5-0 win back in August, and RB Leipzig put six past Die Alte Dame in late September – leading to a goal difference of -10, which is the third-worst in the division.
Their recent form is good, though, and they now find themselves on a run of three consecutive wins in all competitions.
A Marco Richter goal saw them edge Borussia Monchengladbach 1-0 last weekend to move into the top half, and that was followed up by an expected 3-1 victory over Preussen Munster, who play their football down in the fourth tier, in the cup on Tuesday.
Pal Dardai will hope his side can produce another rare clean sheet this weekend, and improve their track record against a side that has beaten them during four of their five most recent encounters.
Hoffenheim Bundesliga form:
Hoffenheim form (all competitions):
Hertha Berlin Bundesliga form:
Hertha Berlin form (all competitions):
We say: Hoffenheim 1-1 Hertha Berlin
Hoffenheim need to find a consistent run of form, but with the class of players such as Andrej Kramaric in the team, they could certainly win this game if they play to their maximum. The visitors are in a good place, however, and we are backing them to hold on for a draw on this occasion.