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Can Andrej Kramaric (c.) get Hoffenheim firing in 2023 now that he has support from Kasper Dolberg in attack? - © DFL
Can Andrej Kramaric (c.) get Hoffenheim firing in 2023 now that he has support from Kasper Dolberg in attack? - © DFL
bundesliga

Hoffenheim: the 2022/23 season so far

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Hoffenheim’s fortunes have fluctuated wildly in their first few months under Andre Breitenreiter. Can new boy Kasper Dolberg help Andrej Kramaric & Co. find some consistency?

The story so far

Hoffenheim were one of seven clubs to begin the season with a new coach, bringing in Breitenreiter – fresh from winning the title in Switzerland with Zürich – to replace Sebastien Hoeneß. Things got off to a bit of a false start with a 3-1 loss at Borussia Mönchengladbach on the opening weekend, but TSG then won four of the next five, scoring 11 goals.

The one blip there was a very tight 1-0 defeat away at Borussia Dortmund, which was also the only loss in the opening eight matchdays. However, the Sinsheim club have won only one league outing since the start of October, claiming a 3-0 victory at Breitenreiter’s former club Schalke on Matchday 10 - one of only two away wins. They then thumped the Royal Blues 5-1 back at home three days later in the DFB Cup to progress to the round of 16, where they will take on RB Leipzig in February.

A raft of injuries has also hampered the team's progress, with the likes of Ihlas Bebou yet to take to the field at all and captain Benjamin Hübner announcing that his problems have forced him to retire at 33. Three straight defeats to close out 2022 at home to Leipzig, away at Eintracht Frankfurt and home to Wolfsburg – and just a single point off Cologne in the final five fixtures – then somewhat undid the strong start they made and leaves TSG in 11th place going into the new year. Breitenreiter’s men will more likely be looking over their shoulders, only four points above the bottom three, than up right now.

Key player: Ozan Kabak

Hoffenheim are already the sixth club of 22-year-old Kabak’s professional career, but the centre-back looks to have now finally settled at the PreZero Arena. He has started every game except the Leipzig fixture when he was suspended for accumulation of yellow cards and has emerged as a rock at the back for TSG. The 20-time Turkey international is Hoffenheim’s best player when it comes to winning duels, ranking joint-sixth in the division alongside Dayot Upamecano for total won (180). Very much the modern central defender in a back three, he’s also seventh in the Bundesliga for pass completion (91.67 percent) and has chipped in with a pair of goals and assists each. It’s no wonder he’s been voted Hoffenheim’s Player of the Month in two out of four months this season.

Best game

Having lost their opening game at Gladbach, Hoffenheim suddenly found themselves 2-0 down after 13 minutes at home to Bochum in their first home fixture. There were no doubt rumblings of discontent in the crowd of 17,000, but Christoph Baumgartner got one back just moments later. Kabak then nodded in his first goal for the club to draw them level with only 23 minutes gone. A Munas Dabbur header on the verge of the full-time whistle completed the comeback and kickstarted the Breitenreiter era.

Watch: Hoffenheim 3-2 Bochum – highlights

One to watch: Kasper Dolberg

Nobody has scored as many goals for Hoffenheim as Kramaric (106 in 234 games), while he is only nine short of a century of strikes in the Bundesliga after 206 appearances. The 31-year-old has three goals and two assists from 14 games so far this Bundesliga season, offering glimpses of what we know he can do - but he needs support. Enter Dolberg; the Denmark centre-forward who has arrived on loan from French outfit Nice after spending half the campaign with Spanish side Sevilla. The 25-year-old managed just eight goalless appearances in Andalusia, but featured in all three of his country's matches at this winter's World Cup. Now in Germany, he has a point to prove and both player and club will be hoping the Dane can rediscover the kind of form that once made him an a Eredivisie, Dutch Cup and Supercup winner at Ajax.

View from the camp

“We showed particularly at the start of the season that we’re a very good team and the potential we have. But when you do a little less or aren’t clinical enough, you don’t win games at this level. That’s why it’s important that we clear our minds a bit and then get going again really well.” - Baumgartner

Key fixtures in 2023

Watch: The Bundesliga is back!

All 2022/23 season reviews:

Augsburg | Bayer Leverkusen | Bayern Munich | Bochum | Borussia Dortmund | Borussia Mönchengladbach | Cologne | Eintracht Frankfurt | Freiburg | Hertha BerlinMainz | RB Leipzig | Schalke | Union Berlin | VfB Stuttgart | Werder Bremen | Wolfsburg