Sinsheim – Matchday 30’s final encounter sees Bundesliga entertainers 1899 Hoffenheim host FC Augsburg, conquerors of FC Bayern München, at the Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena on Sunday evening (kick-off 15:30 GMT/17:30 CEST).
Volland staying put
The hosts, who celebrate their 200th Bundesliga outing and 100th top-flight home game against die Fuggerstädter, are looking to stretch their unbeaten league run to five matches, but Markus Weinzierl’s side will be high on confidence following last weekend’s outstanding victory over Pep Guardiola’s men.
You have to go back to August 2011 for Hoffenheim’s last victory over Sunday’s opponents. That day, goals from Ryan Babel and Sejad Salihovic earned the Kraichgauer a 2-0 victory at the SGL Arena. Since then, Hoffenheim have failed to beat Augsburg in four attempts, but striker Kevin Volland is confident of getting the better of Weinzierl’s team this weekend.
“It’s high time we beat Augsburg,” said the 21-year-old, who confirmed on Friday that he would be staying at the Wirsol Rhein-Neckar Arena next season. “But we’ll have to play very well to get the three points. Augsburg work very hard when their opponents have the ball, but they’re also capable of playing very good football themselves.”
Modeste may return
“Augsburg have had a very solid season,” added coach Markus Gisdol at Friday’s pre-match press conference. “They finished last campaign very well and they’ve managed to continue their development into this season.” Gisdol also confirmed he will be without Sven Schipplock and David Abraham for Sunday’s clash in Sinsheim, but striker Anthony Modeste, who picked up a thigh injury against Bayern a fortnight ago, may be included in the squad.
Augsburg, meanwhile, are without the injured Tobias Werner and Jan Moravek, but Borussia Mönchengladbach-bound Andre Hahn, Raul Bobadilla and Arkadiusz Milik should be fit after recovering from viruses. Defender Ragnar Klavan is also set for a return following a groin problem.
‘Looking forward to every game’
Weinzierl admitted he has yet to decide whether to make changes to the team that beat the record titleholders 1-0 last Saturday. “The eleven [that beat Bayern] put in an outstanding performance last week. They deserved the victory, just like every other winning team I’ve selected this year. I don’t know whether I’ll make any changes to the side.”
The win over Guardiola’s team was Augsburg’s first in five attempts, and Weinzierl is determined to cap an outstanding campaign by picking up as many points as possible between now and the end of the season. “We’re looking forward to every game,” said the coach. “We want to stay ahead of our direct rivals in the league and make sure we return to Augsburg with the points in the bag.”
Hoffenheim: Grahl - F. Johnson, Strobl, Vestergaard, Beck - Rudy, Polanski, Salihovic - Roberto Firmino - Volland, Elyounoussi
Augsburg: Hitz - Verhaegh, Callsen-Bracker, Hong, Ostrzolek - Baier - Hahn, Vogt, Halil Altintop, Esswein - Mölders