On the evidence of their last two matches, there is plenty of life yet in TSG 1899 Hoffenheim under new coach Julian Nagelsmann.
After a 1-1 draw away at relegation rivals SV Werder Bremen last weekend, Hoffenheim beat 1. FSV Mainz 05 3-2 on Saturday to seal a first win of 2016 and climb to within two points of 16th-placed Bremen.
Suddenly, there is genuine optimism at the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar Arena that the club will be able to prolong their eight-year stay in Germany's top flight. That is in large part down to the 28-year-old Nagelsmann, the Bundesliga's youngest ever top-flight head coach, already making quite an impact with his new charges.
"There was a lot of Nagelsmann in this victory," said striker Kevin Volland in his post-match interview, Andrej Kramaric adding: "The coach just told us to go forward and enjoy ourselves. The fans were right behind us and we managed to do that."
If it ain't broke...
The game followed a similar pattern to the type of encounter that has come to symbolise Hoffenheim as a top-flight side in recent seasons: a young team concedes an early goal before responding with fast, exciting football and eventually holding on for a somewhat nervy win after letting in a second goal late on.
Nagelsmann will no doubt have wished to have kept the score down to 3-1, but it has not gone unnoticed by his senior players that this is exactly the type of game this young and vibrant side deal in, and which they are most comfortable playing: attacking the opposition penalty area at speed and aiming to take points by out-scoring the opposition.
Volland: what Hoffenheim stand for
Volland, now a veteran of 120 Bundesliga appearances despite being only five years younger than his new boss, revealed just how receptive the players have been to Nagelsmann. "We want to play on the front foot, so it was massively important that we came back quickly from conceding the first goal," he explained. "In the past, Hoffenheim stood for attacking football, and we're playing that again."
Under previous coach Huub Stevens, a disciple of defensive rigidity, Hoffenheim’s record at the back improved but they registered only one victory in ten matches. Against Mainz it was evident that the Sinsheim-based club were playing to their strengths once again, and while they may only have three wins all season, this victory has reaffirmed the belief at the club that they can secure their top-flight status for another season.