Hoffenheim will attempt to end their three-game winless run on Friday when they face a Schalke 04 side who are looking to avoid a fourth straight defeat in the Bundesliga.
|Photo: FC Schalke 04|
Schalke's struggles in the Bundesliga have shown no signs of coming to an end. Their only win in the opening nine league games came against a Bochum side that are currently bottom of the table.
Since beating Bochum, Frank Kramer's side have lost their last three games, including a heavy 4-0 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen last weekend. While Xabi Alonso celebrated his first win as Leverkusen boss, Kramer was left to reflect on another defeat that leaves Schalke in the relegation playoff.
The Schalke backline has been particularly poor this term, and as a result of conceding 21 league goals, they have the second-worst defensive record in the Bundesliga.
While confidence may be at a premium in the Schalke dressing room, they can at least take inspiration that four of their six points this season have been picked up from home games. They have also managed to score at least two goals in three of their four home matches.
However, with only two of their previous 10 Bundesliga games against Hoffenheim ending in victory, Schalke may be content with taking a point from Friday's contest.
The hosts are without the services of Rodrigo Zalazar, Sepp van den Berg, Ibrahima Cissé and Marcin Kaminski due to injury issues.
Like their opponents, Hoffenheim are also winless in their last three league matches, although two of those games have ended level.
Despite winning only one of their previous four fixtures, Hoffenheim are currently in seventh place with only two points separating them from the top four.
After drawing against Freiburg and Hertha BSC, André Breitenreiter's side looked set to record a third consecutive draw against Werder Bremen last weekend. Mu'nas Dabbur cancelled out Marvin Ducksch's opener in the 32nd minute, but a late Niclas Füllkrug penalty condemned Hoffenheim to their first home defeat of the season.
Hoffenheim will now turn their attention to Friday's encounter, where they will be looking to improve upon their recent away form with only one of their last eight away games in the Bundesliga yielding a victory.
If they can claim all three points against Schalke, then the visitors will move up to third place.
Benjamin Hübner and Ihlas Bebou will miss out with ankle injuries, while Ermin Bicakcic is also sidelined.