One-time enthusiastic 1. FC Union Berlin man Grischa Prömel returned to the Stadion An der Alten Försterei on Saturday afternoon and was all smiles after helping his old academy club pull up into the top-four.
|Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasi CC-BY-SA 3.0
Urs Fischer's XI never recovered from the early deficit. Hoffenheim, embroiled in the relegation race last season, are now sitting in fourth place and will definitely finish the weekend in the top-five. Prömel himself - always considered a pivotal player in the squad - was a large reason why the Sinsheimers were dragged down into the relegation.
Prömel was forced to sit out a large portion of 2022/23 campaign with a broken ankle incurred just prior to the World Cup break. He was only able to return for the last four games of the season and was only fit enough to start on the last two match-days. This year, the Stuttgart native has already supplied two assists. The one feeding Maximilian Beier's 2-0 in the 38th was simply sublime.
Beier's emergence in the German top flight this season continues to be an intriguing story. That of Hoffenheim's turnaround from a relegation-threatened side to one looking to contest for Europe this year also compels. Prömel made certain to emphasize how important the new tone within the team was when speaking to the Sky mics.
"Last season taught us a few things," Prömel said, "You don't get anything for free in the Bundesliga. You have to work hard every week. Big compliments to the team tonight on a clean sheet. Everyone's pulling together. Everyone's giving it their all. That's why we're on a joint path."
Hoffenheim will kick-off the sixth match-day of the 2023/24 Bundesliga campaign against Dortmund next Friday night in a match with big early top-four ramifications. Dortmund - after winning themselves against Wolfsburg today - are one point below die Kraichgauer in the table.