Fourth meets second in the Bundesliga on Saturday, with Hoffenheim playing host to Borussia Dortmund at the PreZero Arena.
Both will be looking to bounce back from poor exits from the DFB-Pokal in midweek, in an encounter that promises to be thoroughly entertaining for the neutral.
Despite having won just once in their last five fixtures across all competitions, Hoffenheim head into the weekend on a relatively strong run of form.
Five wins and two draws in seven Bundesliga games, including four on the bounce, saw Sebastian Hoeness’s side shoot up the Bundesliga table and into the mix for the Champions League places all of a sudden before the winter break, but that run has been halted ever so slightly over the past week.
A 2-1 defeat at Union Berlin in the Bundesliga last weekend was followed by a hugely disappointing 4-1 loss at home to Freiburg in the DFB-Pokal on Wednesday.
Die Kraichgauer were playing for a spot in the quarter-finals in midweek, but despite Andrej Kramaric netting his first goal in nine club appearances, they were comprehensively beaten thanks to their lack of clinical finishing in front of goal.
The clash in the capital last weekend was different though, as Hoffenheim instead created very little in the final third and were deservedly brushed aside by their fellow European hopefuls.
That loss leaves Saturday’s hosts in fourth place heading into matchday 20, so despite the slip-ups over the last week, Hoffenheim remain well in the mix to earn themselves a shock Champions League spot come May, which would be an incredible achievement for a side many tipped to endure yet another dull mid-table campaign.
Meanwhile, Dortmund head to the PreZero Arena on Saturday hoping to put a DFB-Pokal exit of their own behind them.
Unlike their hosts though, who were pitted against a fellow Bundesliga side, BVB were instead knocked out by 2.Bundesliga leaders St Pauli, in a humiliating 2-1 defeat.
Marco Rose resisted the urge to rest some of his big names during their Bundesliga title challenge, but even with the likes of Mats Hummels, Marco Reus and Erling Braut Haaland all starting, Dortmund fell to the second-tier side and ended the defence of their DFB-Pokal trophy in the process.
The Black and Yellows will now return to Bundesliga action with their full focus on picking up three points at a time, with their destiny out of their hands due to Bayern Munich’s six-point gap at the summit.
However, a potential turning point two weeks ago, when Bayern fell to a shock defeat at home to Borussia Monchengladbach, and Dortmund remarkably came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Eintracht Frankfurt later that weekend, meant the gap was cut from an initial nine prior to the winter break, to the current six.
Although the league leaders returned to winning ways with ease last weekend, Rose’s side kept the pressure on by thumping this year’s surprise package, Freiburg, by a 5-1 scoreline at Signal Iduna Park.
Haaland and Thomas Meunier each netted braces, and Mahmoud Dahoud netted the fifth in a devastatingly-clinical display from Dortmund, and Rose will be hoping for more of the same on Saturday, as his side look to cut Bayern’s lead to just three points ahead of their trip to Hertha Berlin on Sunday.
Hoffenheim Bundesliga form:
Hoffenheim form (all competitions):
Borussia Dortmund Bundesliga form:
Borussia Dortmund form (all competitions):
We say: Hoffenheim 2-2 Borussia Dortmund
This clash looks set to be an entertaining one on Saturday, with both sides successful in front of goal in recent weeks, whilst remaining leaky at the other end of the pitch too.
Were this tie being played at Signal Iduna Park, we would be predicting a Dortmund win, but with BVB often slipping up on their travels, as well as Hoffenheim being an impressive outfit, we are going for a thrilling draw.