Sinsheim - 1899 Hoffenheim aim to boost their survival chances with a win against Fortuna Düsseldorf on Friday (20:30 CET) in their first game under new coach Markus Gisdol.
Gisdol: "Realistic chance”
Former first-team assistant and Under-23 coach Gisdol replaced Marco Kurz this week in Hoffenheim’s bid to prolong their five-year permanence in the Bundesliga, the Baden-Württemberg club having struggled to reach their goal of challenging for the European places this season.
However, despite being four points adrift of FC Augsburg in the relegation play-off spot and trailing 15th-placed Fortuna by nine points with only seven matches remaining, the 43-year-old is very much upbeat ahead of his first game in charge at the Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena. “We still have a realistic and good chance [of survival],” he said after conducting his first training session on Wednesday, adding: “It all depends on how quickly we can put our ideas into practice and how quickly I can get my ideas across to my players.”
Being given free rein to “rebuild a side for the remainder of this season and beyond” by the club, Gisdol, who is Hoffenheim’s fourth coach already in the current campaign, hinted there could be a number of changes to the side that succumbed to a 3-0 defeat FC Schalke 04 last week, pointing out that “everyone will get a new chance”, fuelling hopes of first-team action for players such as Matthieu Delpierre, Sejad Salihovic, Igor de Camargo, Eren Derdiyok and Eugen Polanski. Despite conceding three at Schalke, Gisdol said he saw little reason for a change between the sticks however. “Heurelho Gomes has been doing well so far,” he said.
Meier: "Game’s incredibly important”
Meanwhile, Düsseldorf head coach Norbert Meier, hoping to bounce back from five winless games and the latest 4-1 home defeat to Bayer 04 Leverkusen, stressed the significance of the encounter in their battle against the drop. “This game’s incredibly important,” he said. “We’re heading towards the end of the season. This isn’t Hoffenheim’s last chance, but for them there’s no more time to waste, whilst we have the opportunity to pull clear of one of our main rivals.”
Despite 1899 having struggled to fulfill their potential for much of the season, Meier has no illusions about his players' individual quality. “Just look at the names: Eugen Polanski, Firmino or Kevin Volland - they’re all players that are very strong, particularly when in possession,” he said, elaborating on what will be his team’s approach. “You mustn’t give them much time and space, you have to keep them busy.”
Düsseldorf might have to do without Australia international Robbie Kruse, the scorer of Düsseldorf’s goal in the previous 1-1 home draw, however, who will be travelling to Sinsheim but will face a late fitness test having suffered from ligament problems. Meanwhile, Takashi Usami may have to make do with a place on the bench in Gisdol's first match at the helm.
Hoffenheim: Gomes - Beck, Abraham, Delpierre, Johnson - Weis, Williams - Ochs, Volland, Roberto Firmino - de Camargo
Düsseldorf: Giefer - Balogun, Latka, Malezas, J. van den Bergh - Lambertz, Tesche - Bolly, Kruse, Bellinghausen - Reisinger