bundesliga.com looks ahead to a contest involving one side looking nervously over their shoulder at the bottom three and another peering up at the top six...
Köln are not quite out of the relegation equation just yet, despite finishing last weekend five points clear of the drop zone. Chances are they'll be a lot closer to the mire come kick-off on Sunday against a Hoffenheim side still in with a shout of playing in next season's UEFA Europa League.
With Polish midfielder serving a mandatory one-match ban, Peter Stöger will have to make at least one change in midfield. Matthias Lehmann could move across to the right-hand side, while Daniel Halfar and Yuya Osako are both pushing for starts. Defender Mergim Mavraj is unavailable for personal reasons.
Suspension-free defender Ermin Bicakcic is expected to return to the starting line-up in place of the injured David Abraham. Pirmin Schwegler faces a late fitness test on a back injury, but fellow midfielder (l.) is available after sitting out last weekend's home defeat to Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Austrian defender continues to impress in his breakthrough season in a Köln shirt. The 22-year-old is one of the main reasons why the Billy Goats have proved such a tough nut to crack for so many sides in 2014/15, with his physicality and aerial ability just two facets of his blossoming game.
will certainly put Wimmer's defensive credentials to the test. The Brazilian playmaker is the man that makes Hoffenheim tick and also has a keen eye for goal. A classy lob in the DFB Cup defeat to Borussia Dortmund in midweek attests to that, although his repertoire is quite frankly endless.
Stöger (head coach): "I find Hoffenheim's style of play really easy on the eye. They have got some quality players in attack, who are always capable of breaking down the opposition. But I also believe that we showed in our first meeting this season that we are capable of tackling them head-on."
Firmino: "Obviously we're disappointed to have been knocked out of the cup. The most important thing for us, though, is that we played well. The game has given us plenty of belief and we are confident that we can put in another performance like we did in Dortmund."
Köln are winless in their last three and have only won once since the turn of the year (against Eintracht Frankfurt on Matchday 24). Hoffenheim are also searching for their first win in four in all competitions, having drawn with SC Paderborn 07 and lost to Gladbach and Dortmund in recent weeks.
Still a relatively young fixture, the two sides have only met on nine previous occasions at this level. As Stöger touched on at his pre-match press conference, the reverse fixture was an absolute cracker - a a 4-3 success for Köln - which means Hoffenheim are now without a win in six against the North-Rhine Westphalian club.
Köln: Horn - Olkowski, Maroh, Wimmer, Hector - Lehmann, Vogt - Risse, Osako, Halfar - Ujah
Hoffenheim: Baumann - Beck, Strobl, Bicakcic, J.-S. Kim - Rudy, Polanski, Schwegler - Volland, Roberto Firmino - Schipplock