Hoffenheim vs Basaksehir – Thursday, October 19, 20:05 BST / 21:05 CET Rhein-Neckar Arena, Germany.
It is all or nothing for Hoffenheim on matchday 3 of the Europa League. Reaching the UEFA Champions League playoffs after a brilliant 2016/17 Bundesliga season Hoffenheim have been a disaster in Europe losing in the playoffs to Liverpool and then losing both games to Braga as well as Ludogorets Razgrad in the Europa League group stage.
Another defeat, this time to the Turkish club Başakşehir, would most certainly mean the end of Hoffenheim’s European campaign. Hoffenheim have been criticised for their performances in Europe as the general feeling in Germany has been that the side coached by Julian Nagelsmann should have done better against their opposition. The lacklustre results can, however, be explained by two factors.
First, Hoffenheim play their first ever European campaign and history shows that clubs, even from the big countries, struggle when they first learn to set a balance between domestic and international action. Second, there is a general feeling around the club that the Europa League is not a priority for the club. Instead, Nagelsmann wants to have a second shot at the Champions League, and with the reform of the competition, the top four sides in Germany would qualify automatically for the group stage next season.
The second reason would explain the disparity between the side’s performance in Europe and Germany. Domestically Hoffenheim are currently fourth and although the side dropped two points against Augsburg on the weekend is definitely among the favourites to finish in the top four again—especially if the emphasis is put on the Bundesliga.
At the same time, Nagelsmann cannot afford a poor performance in the Europa League either if he wants to have a shot of coaching one of the big clubs in Germany or abroad. Facing Başakşehir, it can, therefore, be expected that Hoffenheim will put up a much better face than in the previous matches.
The Turkish club in the meantime has been one of the big surprises of Turkish football in recent years. Lavishly funded thanks to the support of Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan Başakşehir has the feel of a club that almost acts like a state propaganda machine not unlike some clubs from the post-Soviet space. A new stadium and money to sign players has meant that the club has been able to challenge the status quo of Turkish football. Coached by Abdullah Avci the club plays an attractive style of football that could hurt any club on the continent.
Hoffenheim vs Basaksehir – Players to look out for:
Kerem Demirbay #10 – 1899 Hoffenheim
Kerem Demirbay is Hoffenheim’s transition player. Positioned between Hoffenheim’s back three and the two-man attacking midfield Demirbay is in charge of quickly moving the ball forward from defence to attack. A typical playmaker Nagelsmann often moves Demirbay further back when playing against stronger opponents like it will be the case against Bayern on Saturday. Sitting deep Demirbay can use his speed and vision to move balls forward during a counter-attack quickly. Nagelsmann is a firm believer in having his teams finish off attacking plays in less than ten seconds after gaining control of the ball from the opposition. This tactic is only possible thanks to midfielder Kerem Demirbay.
Emre Belözuglu #5 – Başakşehir
Emre is the heart and soul of Başakşehir. The Turkish national team player joined the club in the summer of 2015 after an illustrious career with Inter, Newcastle United, Atlético Madrid and Fenerbahçe and was a big part of the reason why Başakşehir managed to reach the group stage of the Europa League. Initially, more of a number 10 the now 37-year-old has dropped deeper into a more deeper midfield role where he can control the tempo despite his advanced age.
Hoffenheim vs Basaksehir – Match Stats
- The clubs are meeting for the first time; neither has previously played a team from their opponents’ home country.
- The Turkish side has won three of the last six matches between clubs from these nations staged in Germany: W3 D2 L1.
- Hoffenheim have lost all four of their European games to date – two in Group C plus their UEFA Champions League play-off; however, they have scored in every match and also led in two of them.
- Başakşehir are yet to win a UEFA away fixture: D3 L3.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Hoffenheim vs Basaksehir 2-0
Hoffenheim vs Basaksehir – Possible Lineups
TSG 1899 Hoffenhiem
Baumann – Nordtveit, Vogt, Hübner – Kaderabek, Zuber – Demirbay – Amiri, Rupp – Uth, Wagner
Coach: Julian Nagelsmann
Babacan – Clichy, Epureanu, Attamah, Júnior Caiçara – Tekdemir, Belözuglu – Elia, Márcio Mossoró, Visca – Adebayor
Coach: Abdullah Avci
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and social media editor at Bundesliga.com. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.