Christoph Baumgartner: Who is Hoffenheim's Austrian playmaker supreme?
Christoph Baumgartner has fired Austria into the UEFA Euro 2020 last 16. bundesliga.com has the lowdown on the Hoffenheim playmaker...
Position: Attacking midfielder
Country: Austria (12 caps, four goals)
Born in the small town of Horn, in the north of Austria, Baumgartner began his footballing life at local club SV Horn before moving to AKA St. Pölten as a teenager. It was from Pölten that the Austrian playmaker attracted the attention of Hoffenheim and joined the Bundesliga club in the summer of 2017, aged just 16.
In his first season with the U19 side at Hoffenheim he scored nine goals and added 15 assists to quickly grab the attention of first-team coaches, and at the end of the 2018/19 Bundesliga season, Baumgartner was handed his Bundesliga debut at the age of 19 by then coach Julian Nagelsmann. In his second first-team appearance, and first start in the German top-flight, Baumgartner was sent off for receiving two yellow cards against Mainz. "It's a nice development opportunity for him, it's always good to get a damper so early in your career," said Nagelsmann at the time, and develop he has.
After a slow start to the 2019/20 season, Baumgartner burst into life in 2020 - scoring three goals and adding two assists in his eight appearances since the turn of the year. The attacking midfielder has played in a variety of positions, too, from left wing to No.10 and even centre-forward. In 2020/21 he went from strength to strength, missing only four Bundesliga games while contributing to 11 goals and establishing himself as a key member of the Austria national side ahead of Euro 2020.
Plays a bit like: Michael Ballack
While he was played in several different positions for Hoffenheim this season alone, Baumgartner does have a preference and it's the one he plays for Austria. "In a 4-2-3-1 as the No.10, that's my favourite position," Baumgartner told Kicker. "I also enjoy playing deeper, but growing up I was always that attacking midfielder.
Watch: Baumgartner's tidy finish to seal the win vs. Union!
There are already very few in the Bundesliga with the skillset that Baumgartner has, which makes him similar to the likes of Germany legend Michael Ballack and even Kai Havertz at Bayer Leverkusen.
Baumgartner is an intelligent player, able to find space in-between the lines to pick locks in his opposition's defence. He matches his brains with his talent on the ball. Equally as comfortable using his left foot as he is using his predominant right foot, Baumgartner is able to control the ball with ease no matter what position he's in. Another strength of his is one-on-ones, which the Austrian says he loves. Running with the ball and even making late runs into the box to get a shot away at goal, Baumgartner has all the attributes of a top attacking midfielder and is showcasing them all on more frequent basis.
Did you know?
Baumgartner's older brother, Dominik (23), is also a professional footballer, playing in Austria for Wolfsberger AC. The pair played twice together for the Austria U21 side, beating Macedonia 5-0 and Greece 1-0 respectively.
What they're saying
"It suits Kramaric well, they're both technically good, they both work in behind well. 'Baumi', in particular, does the work in behind opposing defences very well. In the beginning, the last punch was often missing, but it's since become more and more successful for him. We've always seen his potential." - former Hoffenheim head coach Alfred Schreuder
"'Baumi' is an extremely talented player with strong technical skills and a good sense for space in attack. As a result, he always develops solutions in tight game situations and is also dangerous around goal." - Hoffenheim sporting director Alexander Rosen
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