Unbeaten Hoffenheim welcome high-flying SC Paderborn to the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena
Unbeaten Hoffenheim welcome high-flying SC Paderborn to the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena

Big opportunity for Hoffenheim; struggling quartet face off

Cologne - TSG 1899 Hoffenheim can further cement their place near the Bundesliga summit this weekend with victory over top-flight newcomers SC Paderborn, while a quartet of strugglers contend with life at the opposite end of the table.

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - SC Paderborn 07

bundesliga.com looks at what's at stake around the country on Saturday afternoon...

With the top two not in action until Sunday evening, Hoffenheim could - temporarily at least - move up to second in the standings with three points against promoted Paderborn. The boys from Sinsheim are one of four sides still to taste defeat in this season's Bundesliga, having won three and drawn five of their eight league assignments so far in 2014/15.

"We're delighted to be third in the table, but we're not quite as stable as the standings might suggest," admitted head coach Markus Gisdol. "We could easily have lost some of our games […] We're almost playing to our full potential, but there are plenty of strong sides in the Bundesliga. You can quickly be on the receiving end of a 3-0 defeat to the bottom club."

'A threat going forward'

Sitting pretty in the top seven, promoted Paderborn wouldn't know much about that. Andre Breitenreiter's lion-hearted ensemble have lost just twice this season, with both those defeats coming against top two incumbents FC Bayern München and Borussia Mönchengladbach.

"We want to put on another passionate performance for the fans," explained Paderborn's head honcho following last weekend's comeback win at home to Eintracht Frankfurt. "Hoffenheim are tighter at the back compared to last year and still as much of a threat going forward. We need to avoid making silly errors in our build-up play."

Hertha Berlin - Hamburger SV

It wasn't mistakes as such that cost Hertha Berlin away at FC Schalke 04 last time out, but rather a lack of scoring chances. The capital club fell to a 2-0 defeat at the Veltins Arena after failing to find the back of the net for only the second time this term, with two points currently all that separates them and Saturday's 16th-placed visitors.

"There were a lot of positives to take from the Schalke game," recalled Hertha boss Jos Luhukay. "I'm optimistic we can deliver another good performance. We had more possession against one of the strongest teams in the league. We put crosses in the box and had more shots, but Schalke were clinical. It's the details that decide football matches."

'We'll be successful'

Improving Hamburg know that only too well after going within a whisker of their second win of the season in last Sunday's 1-1 draw with Hoffenheim. Former Hertha striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga grabbed his second goal in as many games on Matchday 8 and firmly believes his side's fortunes are heading in the right direction under Josef Zinnbauer.

"The Dortmund [win] showed that we are creating more chances, but so did the Hoffenheim game," he explained. We're all pulling in the same direction and are prepared to give our all to achieve success, as everyone can see when we play. [The coach] says that if we all pull in the same direction, we'll be successful. We do what he says and trust him."

FC Augsburg - SC Freiburg

Markus Weinzierl certainly has the full support of Augsburg, despite an indifferent start to 2014/15. Following up last season's top-eight finish was always going to be a struggle for a modest club more accustomed to fighting relegation battles than flirting with the European places, but the early signs are that they're up for the challenge.

"After two narrow defeats on the road, we're finally back home where we want to pick up the points again," enthused the affable Fuggerstädter tactician. "If we play to the best of our abilities, I'm sure we can win. Freiburg haven't won yet, but they've also only lost three. Their league position isn't a fair reflection of the team or their performances, though."

Freiburg hopeful

As Weinzierl went on to explain, Christian Streich's side have been unfortunate enough to concede injury-time equalisers in two of their eight league outings this season. The south-west club haven't being playing particularly badly, but the fact remains only rock-bottom SV Werder Bremen have picked up fewer points since the campaign got under way over two months ago.

"Obviously it was really frustrating not to get anything out of the Wolfsburg game last weekend," lamented the Freiburg head coach. "We created two or three chances, but did't make them count. It's about giving that little bit extra. I hope we'll be in a better physical condition against Augsburg. We have to fight as a team and for each other."