Last Season: 12th
Coach: Pellegrino Matarazzo
Squad Valuation: €118.55m
Stadium: PreZero Aren (30,150)
Hoffenheim’s survival and 12th place finish doesn’t quite tell the whole story as the Sinsheim club came too close to the drop for comfort last season. The club found themselves in freefall going on a winless run of 14 matches (losing twelve of them) and looking like dropping out of the league for the first time since their promotion in 2008.
The switch of coaches from Andre Breitenreiter to Pellegrino Matarazzo did ultimately pay off, but serious lessons will need to be learned from the trauma of last season. There hasn’t been much in the way of transfer activity meaning that Matarazzo is somehow going to have to get more from the same players that got them into (and out of) last season’s mess.
Marius Bülter has arrived from Schalke, while Julian Justvan has been signed from Paderborn. While both will inject some pace from out wide, neither can really be seen as the solution to Hoffenheim’s problems. The re-signing of midfielder Florian Grillitsch from Ajax however will add some control to the midfield as well as some much-needed leadership.
The club have lost key midfielder Christoph Baumgartner to RB Leipzig, with Munas Dabbur also departing. The loan players Angelino, Thomas Delaney, and Kasper Dolberg have all also returned to their parent clubs.
The team has the individual quality to do well, but the trainer needs now to instil some consistency to their performances and increased their mental strength. A reliance on the goals of Andrej Kramaric is a worry, but the return of Grischa Prömel from injury and the development of youngster Tom Bischof are positive signs.
Major signings: Marius Bülter (Schalke), Julian Justvan (Paderborn), Florian Grillitsch (Ajax)
Major departures: Christoph Baumgartner (RB Leipzig), Munas Dabbur (Shabab Al-Ahli)
Youngster to watch: Tom Bischof
The 18-year-old is Tom Bischof is an advanced playmaker with a high level of technical and creative ability in the final third. After making eleven appearances last season (three as a starter), he will be looking to establish himself in Pellegrino Matarazzo’s first-team plans. The Hoffenheim Academy graduate is already being tracked by some big clubs and this season could be the one where he takes his career to the next level.