Hoffenheim v Werder Bremen
With eight clubs involved in UEFA European competitions during the week, matchday nine of the Bundesliga kicks off with Hoffenheim hosting Werder Bremen at the PreZero Arena on Friday night. It may not be the most appealing of games for many, but this fixture sees two of the Bundesliga’s in-form teams go head-to-head with Hoffenheim considered favourites.
Appointed as a successor to Sebastian Hoeness, André Breitenreiter’s side sit fifth with 14 points having already played Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund. After struggling last season with just six goals in 32 Bundesliga games, Andrej Kramarić is already halfway there with three goals and two assists in eight league games this season. With Ihlas Bebou injured and yet to play this season, Georginio Rutter (20) has come in alongside Kramarić and created a fearsome partnership. The Frenchman has 12 key passes this season, the most of any Hoffenheim player. And despite the departure of David Raum to RB Leipzig, Hoffenheim have signed a suitable replacement in Angelino, who averages 4.7 crosses per game.
A worry for Hoffenheim was their defence. Last season, only three teams conceded more than TSG despite them finishing ninth. This season, they have the second-best defence in the Bundesliga after eight games, conceding eight goals. A testament to the work that Breitenreiter has done.
Unbeaten on their travels this season with two draws and two wins, Werder Bremen come into this game after beating Borussia Mönchengladbach 5-1 despite an xG of just 2.6. Niclas Füllkrug is the Bundesliga’s top scorer with seven goals after eight games. With Füllkrug and Marvin Ducksch leading Bremen’s attack, they tend to favour attacking the flanks through Romano Schmid and Mitchell Weiser but with Ozan Kabak and Kevin Vogt in central-defence, Hoffenheim have two players that can deal with the aerial threat. With 18 goals in eight games, Werder Bremen are the Bundesliga’s second highest scorers behind Bayern Munich (23) and TSG stopping Füllkrug will be key to a win on Friday.
Hoffenheim have successive draws against Freiburg and Hertha Berlin but they’ve looked the far better side. Under Breitenreiter, they’ve looked far more dangerous in attack but have remained compact at the back and difficult to break down. Expect Hoffenheim to remain unbeaten at home.
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