’s "phantom goal" in Leverkusen’s 3-2 victory in last season’s corresponding fixture will no doubt live long in the memory, but rest assured there's a lot more to the sides’ 2014/15 Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena reunion…
With only a single point separating Hoffenheim (23) and Leverkusen (24) in the standings, winning this one could prove crucial for both clubs in their quest to finish 2014 in one of the European places. Indeed, the Sinsheim club could climb as high as third if Matchday 16’s other results go their way.
is Hoffenheim’s only injury casualty for the visit of die Werkself, but the centre-back’s absence with a serious knee injury suffered in last weekend’s home win against Eintracht Frankfurt is a real blow to Markus Gisdol’s s9de, the 19-year-old having started every league game in the current campaign.
The visitors, too, will have to make do without one of their standout performers at the Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena, with playmaker (l.) missing the trip south with a cold. Long-term casualties Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Giulio Donati and Stefan Reinartz, as well as Robbie Kruse, are also unavailable.
Brazil attacking midfielder was die Kraichgauer's hero on Matchday 15, capping a standout performance with an assist and the winning goal in their 3-2 victory over Thomas Schaaf’s free-scoring Eagles. His match-winning display demonstrated once again that opponents simply cannot afford to let the 23-year-old out of their sights.
has been a constant threat for Leverkusen this term after returning to the Rhineland club from a one-year loan spell with Eintracht Braunschweig in the summer. The 24-year-old attacker, whose form has earned him his first four Germany caps, has found the net seven times and set up another four goals so far this season.
Markus Gisdol (Hoffenheim coach): "Similar to us, Leverkusen have a rather extreme approach and like to press the opponent very high up the pitch."
Roger Schmidt (Leverkusen coach, r.): "Hoffenheim have strength in depth in attack but they are vulnerable when switching from offence to defence."
Hoffenheim have been suffering a topsy-turvy run of form lately, winning only two of their last six matches, but victories against Hannover 96 and Frankfurt have certainly helped Kevin Volland (l.) and Co. regain their confidence. The visitors have been just as inconsistent lately, with two victories, two defeats and two draws in their last six games.
Leverkusen boast an almost perfect record against Hoffenheim, winning ten and losing just one of their twelve meetings. Last season’s 2-1 success at the Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena was certainly the most memorable of the sides’ encounters to date, Kießling’s phantom goal earning Bayer a crucial three points.
Hoffenheim: Baumann - Beck, Strobl, Bicakcic, J.-S. Kim - Polanski, Schwegler - Volland, Roberto Firmino, Elyounoussi - Szalai
Leverkusen: Leno - Hilbert, Toprak, Spahic, Wendell - L. Bender, Rolfes - Bellarabi, Castro, Son - Kießling
Take another look at some of the reaction to Kießling's 'phantom' goal on the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: