Sinsheim - Having finished in 11th place every season since being promoted to the Bundesliga in 2008, this was the year that 1899 Hoffenheim had earmarked as the point where they would be amongst the clubs challanging for the European places come May.

It has been a difficult first half of the campaign for Hoffenheim, however. A run of poor results led to the dismissal of head coach Markus Babbel, and his successor Marco Kurz will have work to do if pre-season's lofty ambitions are to be met in the Rückrunde.

On September 28 the Bundesliga was rocked by the news that Boris Vukcevic was involved in a car crash. After two operations and waking from a coma, he is now on the road to recovery. Deprived of the winger's talents and evidently affected by the events, Hoffenheim's results dipped and Babbel was dismissed in late November. The club will now be hoping that the winter break will give the players time to rest after a traumatic Hinrunde, in order to do Vukcevic proud in the second half of the campaign.

Of the eleven new faces that arrived at Hoffenheim last summer, the biggest impact has been made by Kevin Volland. Rejoining the club after his loan spell at Bundesliga 2 side 1860 Munich, he looks every inch a top-flight player, calm in possession and displaying maturity that belies his mere 17 Bundesliga games. The 20-year-old scored his first goal for the club in a 3-2 win over Schalke on Matchday 10, but even more impressively is joint-top of the league assists table with seven.

Denied the chance to prove himself in an ultra competitive FC Bayern Munich squad last season, Takashi Usami is making up for lost time at Hoffenheim. Alongside Volland, the club's hopes of survival hang on the Japanese international. Dynamic, direct, youthful and entertaining, the 21-year-old is a player typical of those Hoffenheim have cultivated in recent years.His stunning goal against local rivals Stuttgart on Matchday 5 helped the club to a first ever victory in the fixture.

17 - number of goals Hoffenheim have conceded from set-pieces, the most in the league.
24.1 - average age of 1899's team this season, the youngest in the division.
3 - number of Hoffenheim victories, all of them against teams playing in Europe (Hannover, Stuttgart, Schalke).
4 - Joselu's current league tally, Hoffenheim's top scorer and the league's highest-scoring Spaniard this term.
64 total number of goals scored in Hoffenheim's games this season, the most in the Bundesliga

"The goals we are conceding are our biggest problem," said defender and captain Marvin Compper after Matchday 16's defeat to Borussia Dortmund. "We have to clear our heads during the winter break and make the most of training to iron out the carelessness. We can only achieve this through hard work and concentration."