- Hoffenheim record fourth straight victory, against Leverkusen.
- Nagelsmann's side still unbeaten this season.
- Challenging few weeks lie ahead.
After a fourth straight victory, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim are firmly established in the chasing pack at the top of the Bundesliga. What is more, still unbeaten this season, Julian Nagelsmann’s side dominated in every area during their impressive 3-0 win at Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
Hoffenheim put a miserable record to bed in emphatic style on a memorable afternoon in Leverkusen. In 16 previous meetings in the Bundesliga, Hoffenheim had left empty-handed on no fewer than 13 occasions. Not even against record champions FC Bayern München had they suffered so many defeats.
But this was one of those days when everything went right. Opponents Leverkusen had to play with ten men from as early as the sixth minute after former Hoffenheim striker Kevin Volland was sent off for a professional foul. From the moment Kerem Demirbay put the visitors ahead a short while later, the result was never going to be in doubt.
After drawing their opening four fixtures, a run of four straight victories has seen Hoffenheim gather a head of steam in the Bundesliga. "Things are going really well," said sporting director Alexander Rosen. "We had a solid group full of confidence after the second half of last season. And the new players have fitted in seamlessly in every area."
It did take a certain amount of time for the new signings to fully take the Hoffenheim system on board, however. "I had some difficulties finding my place in a totally new system," admitted striker Sandro Wagner. “The team found my style of play difficult too but we are slowly getting used to each other. I’ve now got four goals from seven appearances, which is fine. So I’m feeling optimistic about the next couple of games."
Kerem Demirbay found himself in a similar situation after signing from Fortuna Düsseldorf in the summer. After sitting out the first few matches, the goal-hungry midfielder has become a permanent fixture in the starting line-up. The 23-year-old has found the net twice already, both times with his supposedly weaker right foot.
"We know we are good, but have to keep our feet on the ground," said Demirbay. "I have been impressed with the close-knit nature of the squad. Everyone works for each other on and off the pitch."
Team-mate Niklas Süle picked out the meticulous approach of TSG coach Nagelsmann for particular praise. '"He always has a plan," said the freshly-capped Germany international. "We don’t just have a system, we can react to every opponent. We are playing much better on the ball and take the pace out of the game when in possession. That is really important as we press very hard."
So far, the plan seems to be working. But Hoffenheim now face three crunch games in the next two weeks. On Wednesday, they travel to 1. FC Köln in the DFB Cup before hosting Hertha Berlin and facing a daunting trip to Bayern.
"The cup game in Köln will be difficult and then we face our first litmus test against a very strong Hertha side," said Wagner. "If we get through the games against Hertha and Bayern then we will be able to tell more about the state of the team."
In current form, however, there are no signs that the wheels are going to come off Hoffenheim's charge any time soon.
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