Starting out as a village club in a quiet corner of southwest Germany, Hoffenheim have risen to the top table of European football. Let bundesliga.com introduce you to the the smallest town to ever host a UEFA Champions League group game.
As is so often the case with German sides, the number in the club's full name TSG 1899 Hoffenheim stands for the year they were founded, initially as a gymnastics club with 20 male members. It was not until 1921 that football was integrated into the club and in 1945 the two departments merged, creating a 'Turn- und Sportgemeinschaft' (TSG) – 'Gymnastics and sports club'.
After years spent competing in regional divisions, the club's fortunes changed in 1989 when local-boy-made-good Dietmar Hopp attended a game and decided to invest. Over the next 20 years, Hoffenheim steadily rose through the divisions, before making one of their most important appointments ever: recruiting Ralf Rangnick has head coach in 2006. He restructured the club both on and off the pitch, eventually guiding them to the Bundesliga for the first time ever at the end of the 2007/08 season. Not only have they remained there ever since, the climb has continued under the youngest coach in Bundelsiga history Julian Nagelsmann. Taking over at the tender age of 28, he has led the club to maiden a UEFA Europa League campaign and now a first tilt at the UEFA Champions League.
Bundesliga 2 runners-up 2008
Widely considered the brightest young tactician in Germany – if not all of Europe – 30-year-old Nagelsmann arrived as first team boss in February 2016 and immediately saved a squad that seemed destined for relegation before subsequently guiding them to successive top-four finishes.
Indeed, Nagelsmann has been so successful that only Bayern Munich (201) and Borussia Dortmund (152) earned more points than his Hoffenheim side in his first two and a half years in charge. The Sinsheim club will soon bid farewell to their crown jewel, however, as he will join RB Leipzig for the start of the 2019/20 season.
Hoffenheim's strength lies in the collective and as such there is no standout individual. That said, goals are football's currency, so regular scorers are always highly prized and at Hoffenheim Andrej Kramaric leads the line. The Croatia international has been revitalized under Nagelsmann and finished the 2017/18 season with 13 goals, a tally he will be looking to better in 2018/19 following the arrivals of Leo Bittencourt and Vincenzo Grifo to add a dash of verve to the attack.
Watch: All of Kramaric's goals and assists in 17/18!
Hoffenheim have become one of the most awkward teams to play against in the Bundesliga, constantly harrying their opponents and breaking forward at pace. League victories over Bayern, Schalke, Borussia Dortmund and Leipzig (twice) attest to their quality.
Indeed, Nagelsmann's side ended up with the second best home record in the division (W11 D4 L2) and the second best attack (66 goals) to finish third - their highest position ever - and secure a place in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time ever.
The WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar Arena was only inaugurated in 2009 and as such it is one of the most modern stadiums in Germany. Tech geeks will be delighted to discover that the roof is covered in solar panels that produce enough energy to power 270 family households each year, while the giant screens at either end of the pitch span a surface area of 52 square metres.
Although it is relatively small compared to other stadiums around the country, its 30,150 (23,400 seated, 6,750 standing) capacity can still become an intimidating cauldron for visitors once the home fans get into full voice.
Although the club is called Hoffenheim it is based in the nearby town of Sinsheim, which is situated in south-west Germany on the Neckar river, in between Stuttgart and Frankfurt. With a total population of just over 35,000, it can become something of a ghost town on matchdays at home.
In addition to the historic town hall, which dates back to the 1840s, the main local attraction is the Sinsheim Auto and Technik Museum that houses a collection of antique vehicles and draws over a million visitors per year.
Sinsheim does not have an airport of its own and the nearest one is in Mannheim, approximately 30 miles to the north-west. There are frequent trains and busses from there towards Sinsheim, but factor in that the journey will take approximately 90 minutes. Another option is Frankfurt airport, which offers flights to and from a much wider range of local and international destinations. Travel time from there is just over two hours.
Getting to the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena
If arriving by car, from Sinsheim-Steinsfurt, traffic can only reach the stadium by taking the diversion along the B39 towards Sinsheim-Zentrum and then turning towards the stadium. Visitors from the direction of Heilbronn are recommended to take the A6 motorway to junction Sinsheim-Süd and then to follow signs to the car park.
If arriving by train, head towards 'Sinsheim Museum/Arena', which is a 15-minute walk away from the stadium. Alternatively, shuttle busses also run between the bus station at Sinsheim Hauptbahnhof (Elsenz) and the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar Arena (Sinsheim-Süd business park, Am Hummelberg).
Tickets can still be bought via the official club website HERE.
Can’t make it? Watch here:
If you can’t make it to the stadium, Bundesliga matches are broadcast around the world. FOX Sports and Univision provide coverage in the United States, while BT Sports are the exclusive broadcaster in the United Kingdom. In Germany, Sky Sports show the majority of matches, with Eurosport hosting one match per week.
Buy the kit
You can get your own Hoffenheim jersey from the official club shop.
Stateside fan clubs
A club with a growing reputation around the world, Hoffenheim's first US fan club is located in San Francisco. Find out more about the club, and any potentially closer to you, head HERE.