The Sinsheim outfit are seemingly making it their mission to spread the message of the German top-flight’s commitment to attractive, expressive and attacking football. Their defending may still leave something to be desired, but with goals on-tap, the club from Germany’s south west are fast becoming the league’s most entertaining side.
Shaky in defence...
A leaky defence is a malady that has afflicted Hoffenheim for a while now. Die Kraichgauer came within two games of falling into Bundesliga 2 last season, needing a relegation play-off victory over 1. FC Kaiserslautern to extend their five-year stay at the top. Many of their problems stemmed from a woeful defensive record of 67 goals conceded in just 34 games, which made theirs the least-secure backline in the league.
The problem has spilled over into this season too. Under head coach Markus Gisdol, Hoffenheim have conceded 20 times in the opening eight matches, averaging 2.5 goals a game, an increase on 2012/13’s average of 1.98 per match. However, with an average age of just 24 and having a 21-year-old goalkeeper in Koen Casteels between the posts, it is perhaps inevitable that Gisdol’s young charges will have their ups and downs.
…but breathtaking going forward
Any shortcomings in their defensive third are more than made up for at the other end, however. Gisdol’s troops may concede freely, but they have found the net just as many times, making them the second-highest scorers behind Borussia Dortmund. And at present, their front three wouldn’t look out of place wearing black and yellow.
Roberto Firmino, Kevin Volland and summer signing Anthony Modeste have been nothing short of sensational this season. Between them they have eight assists and a highly impressive 16 goals, many of which have been stunning efforts, such as this cheeky chip from Firmino against 1. FSV Mainz 05 on Matchday 8.
Modeste’s contribution of six goals in eight appearances has been remarkable considering he only arrived in the Bundesliga from FC Girondins de Bordeaux in the summer transfer window, while Volland is maturing into one of the league’s best players and a potential star for Germany in the future. And Firmino, having just turned 22, has already played 81 games in the German top-flight, establishing himself as another first-team regular.
The good news for Hoffenheim fans is that as the trio have been given license to express themselves under a coach that places an emphasis on attacking football, there is no reason why the goals, or indeed the hugely entertaining and high-scoring matches, should dry up any time soon.
Scorelines such as 2-2, 3-3, 5-1 and 6-2 are becoming regular occurrences for this team, home or away. In fact, in the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena, a massive 19 goals have flown in just four games. And at €17 for a regular standing ticket, why wouldn’t you want to watch Hoffenheim on a regular basis?
Check out Anthony Modeste's amazing start to the season, plus much more besides, on the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: