Forget Leipzig…Hoffenheim will be Bayern’s biggest challengers
In just 15 months, rookie manager Julian Nageslmann took TSG 1899 Hoffenheim from a side hurtling towards relegation from the Bundesliga to a fourth-placed finish – the highest in the club’s history. And there’s every sign they can and will break records again this season.
There’s no question of this Hoffenheim side lacking quality – only consistency. Last season they were the only side to take 4+ points from Bayern Munich, drawing 1-1 at the Allianz Arena before recording a 1-0 win over Der FCB in April.
Elsewhere, they beat heavyweights Bayer Leverkusen home-and-away without conceding a goal, and took four points off Schalke 04 – including a stellar comeback win at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena.
The man who netted the crucial goal in the victories over Schalke and Bayern is Andrej Kramaric – and as with the club’s other key men last term, the former Leicester City hitman is sticking with Die Kraichgauer.
Admittedly they’ve lost one talented player in the form of defender Nicolas Sule. However, the importance of keeping onto players like Kramaric, Sandro Wagner, Nadiem Amiri and Kerem Demirbay who know and fit into Nagelsmann’s system can’t be overstated.
And the 30-year-old boss has strengthened his ranks with the money recouped from Sule’s sale to perennial talent-gobblers Bayern Munich.
Firstly, the prodigiously talented Serge Gnabry has made the opposite journey, arriving in Baden-Wurttemberg from the German champions, while former Borussia Monchengladbach favourite Havard Nordtveit will be keen to return to his imperious best following a difficult stint at West Ham United.
Elsewhere, Sule’s absence has been offset by the arrival of two top-class defenders in the form of Dutch prodigy Justin Hoogma, and classy left-back Nico Schulz from Monchengladbach.
By contrast, their rivals have suffered in the transfer market. Borussia Dortmund have seen their defence picked apart, while Leverkusen have lost prolific goalscorer Javier Hernandez to the Irons.
Add to that the fact Hoffenheim boast one of the most talented and tactically astute young bosses in Europe right now, and it’s clear that there’s plenty of value in backing Der Kraichgauer in the coming season.
They begin the campaign by welcoming Werder Bremen to the Rhein-Neckar-Arena on 19 August, with odds of 8/11 for a home win.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing