Hertha BSC vs Hoffenheim preview:
Hertha bidding for first win of 2022
By Ben Sully @SullyBen
Hertha BSC will be aiming to clinch their first win of the calendar year, when they face a Hoffenheim side who are dreaming of Champions League qualifcation.
The Felix Magath era begins on Saturday without the man himself in the Hertha dugout. In a season that has had been far from smooth sailing, Hertha were dealt another setback when it was announced that their new head coach had tested positive for COVID-19.
Magath's appointment came out of the blue after Tayfun Korkut was relieved of his duties, however, the former Wolfsburg boss will have to watch his first game from afar.
Although their new coach may not be in the dugout, Hertha's players cannot afford to let games slip by as they languish in the Bundesliga relegation zone. Confidence will be low in the home dressing room after losing their last five matches by an aggregate 17-3 scoreline.
If Die Alte Dame are to avoid the drop then Magath will be looking for his new side to improve at both ends of the pitch. No team has conceded more Bundesliga goals in 2022 than Hertha, while they have also scored the fewest league goals in the current calendar year, finding the net on just six occasions.
Despite their woeful form, Hertha are level on points with Stuttgart - who sit in the playoff spot - while they are just two points adrift of Arminia Bielefeld in 15th place. An upturn of form at the right time could ensure Hertha prolong their stay in the Bundesliga.
The hosts are doubtful about the availability of Stevan Jovetic and Kevin-Prince Boateng, who are struggling with muscle injuries. Meanwhile, a decision will need to be made about who starts in goal, with Alexander Schwolow back available after missing the last three games.
Hoffenheim are one of four teams that are firmly in the hunt for a Champions League qualification spot and though they occupy sixth position, they are level on points with RB Leipzig, who sit in fourth place.
Die Kraichgauer are one of the in-form sides in the Bundesliga after picking up 13 points from their five matches.
Although a run of four consecutive victories came to an end against Bayern Munich last Saturday, Hoffenheim would have been pleased with the point they took off the German champions. Christoph Baumgartner opened the scoring before Robert Lewandowski levelled in first half stoppage time, but Hoffenheim held firm in the second period to take a point from the contest.
Sebastian Hoeneß will now take his side to the capital on Saturday with the visitors aiming to keep their Champions League hunt on track with a third consecutive away victory.
Hoffenheim have a long list of absentees to contend with. Chris Richards, Sebastian Rudy, Ermin Bicakcic and Robert Skov are among those who will miss out. The visitors will also be forced into a change in midfield with Diadié Samassékou suspended for an accumulation of yellow cards.
More about the match
15.30 Kickoffs: Hertha upset Hoffenheim via Plattenhardt free-kicks, Mainz down Bielefeld with three penalties