Pre-Season Preview: TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
Head coach Ralf Rangnick has so far done a splendid job with Hoffenheim, who will be entering their second consecutive Bundesliga season. In the 2008-2009 season, Hoffenheim were promoted to the Bundesliga and immediately shot to the top of the table. A striking trinity of Vedad Ibisevic, Demba Ba and Chinedu Obasi tore teams apart and Hoffenheim sat in first place with 35 points after 17 games. During those 17 games, Hoffenheim scored an incredible 42 goals. The Bundesliga season is long, though, and Hoffenheim couldn’t hold their ground for too much longer. Ralf Rangnick, with the backing of owner Dietmar Hopp, will look to once again impress with Hoffenheim this season although the realistic chances of that are poor.
Striker Vedad Ibisevic lit the Bundesliga on fire during Hoffenheim’s promotion season, but has been unable to recover that form after suffering a serious injury. Ibisevic, though, is still a central player for Hoffenheim. His ability to finish chances is astounding. If he can reach the heights he reached two seasons ago, he will once again lift Hoffenheim out of the mid-table and into European contention.
Young Ghanaian midfielder Isaac Vorsah, who had a splendid World Cup, will be expected to keep that form up with Hoffenheim this season. Vorsah is extremely versatile, and can slot into a defensive midfield position or any position across the backline. His stability and positional sense is vital in the spine of the Hoffenheim side, and without players like him, Hoffenheim would be unable to win possession of the ball and would be overrun.
Hoffenheim have done nearly nothing in terms of strengthening their squad this season. They have lost Maicosuel, Franco Zuculini, Timo Hildebrand, Per Nilsson, and Wellington. They certainly do need some reinforcement, and most importantly between the sticks. Hoffenheim’s failure to bring in reinforcements could cost them in the long run this season.
I can’t see Hoffenheim pushing for a European spot like they did two seasons ago, in fact far from it. I believe Hoffenheim will fight relegation and the bottom half of the table all season, and without owner Dietmar Hopp pumping some more money into the club, they could really be looking relegation in the face in a season or two.