FIFA World Cup-bound Andrej Kramaric cannot stop scoring for Bundesliga top-four hopefuls Hoffenheim. - © © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA
FIFA World Cup-bound Andrej Kramaric cannot stop scoring for Bundesliga top-four hopefuls Hoffenheim. - © © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA

Andrej Kramaric: Hoffenheim's hat-trick hero and MD32's Man of the Matchday


How English Premier League outfit Leicester City could do with Andrej Kramaric. The Croatia international has hit a rich vein of form for Hoffenheim in recent months, scoring 10 goals in his last 12 Bundesliga appearances - only one less than his previous employers combined over the same number of games.

Kramaric's impeccable run - goals against Hertha Berlin, Schalke, Freiburg, Augsburg, Borussia Mönchengladbach, a brace at home to Mainz and a hat-trick vs. Hannover - has fired Hoffenheim right back into contention for a top-four finish, something which 2016 Premier League champions Leicester, treading water in mid-table, can forget about.

"I'm really happy with my contribution," Kramaric said after helping himself to his first Bundesliga hat-trick on Matchday 32. "I've played in a variety of positions in attack, but I'm full of confidence right now and that makes things a lot easier in front of goal - not just for me actually, but all the strikers. It was an important game for us."

It's no coincidence that Kramaric's rediscovered mojo comes hot on the heels of Sandro Wagner's January transfer to Bayern. Kramaric was often deployed in the wide areas during the first half of the season, with Wagner typically head coach Julian Nagelsmann's preferred central striker. The former Dynamo Zagreb, Rijeka and Leicester forward scored twice in that time, but is now thriving as the focal point of the attack.

"Andrej played brilliantly against Hannover," commented Hoffenheim's Havard Nordtveit. "You can see how much he means to our team when he's scoring. He's a top striker and he's bang in form. He's doing a great job for us right now."

- © imago

Happily, the 26-year-old is no stranger to hard graft. Despite scoring a club record 450 goals for Zagreb at youth level, and 28 in 31 competitive appearances for Rijeka in his final months in his native Croatia, he arrived in Sinsheim in January 2015 as a relative unknown. His one-year stint with Leicester had been underwhelming at best - four goals in 20 games - but he put his head down on German soil and was rewarded.

Kramaric became a key player under Nagelsmann at Hoffenheim, his five goals and four assists helping dig Die Kraichgauer out of a relegation-sized hole in the second half of 2015/16. A permanent move to the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena followed and the goal glut continued.

The 27-time Croatia international struck 15 times in 2016/17 as Hoffenheim secured an unprecedented top-four finish. They fell to Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League play-offs and failed to progress beyond the 2017/18 Europa League groups, but their appetite for European football remains.

Written off earlier in the year, fourth place is now Hoffenheim's to lose. They have a one-point cushion on fifth with two games to play and - unbeaten in nine - form is very much on their side.

Upcoming opponents VfB Stuttgart and Borussia Dortmund harbour European ambitions of their own, but TSG have the man, whose goals promise to see them over the finish line and into the Champions League for the first time. Leicester's one that got away: the prolific Kramaric.

Chris Mayer-Lodge

Click here for more Hoffenheim news and features!

Related news