Hoffenheim boss Julian Nagelsmann insists his team are not going to Borussia Dortmund just to make up the numbers on Sunday.
The Bundesliga strugglers, led by their 28-year-old head coach, won for only the third time in the league this season when they beat Mainz 3-2 last week and moved to within two points of Werder Bremen in the relegation play-off spot.
But Hoffenheim are up against a Dortmund team in magnificent form. Thomas Tuchel’s men have won 13 of their last 14 home Bundesliga matches, drawing the other – their longest unbeaten run at home for just over four years.
Dortmund also have the league’s best defensive record in 2016 having conceded just once in five games. They have kept four Bundesliga clean sheets on the bounce for the first time since 2009 and another this weekend would equal their club record.
Defenders Lukasz Piszczek (muscle injury) and Mats Hummels (hip) are hopeful of being fit for the hosts to bolster their chances of reaching that milestone, but Sokratis Papastathopoulos (adductor) is still out.
Dortmund come into the game on the back of a Europa League win over Porto that set up a last-16 tie against Tottenham, and they will now look to reduce advantage held by Bayern Munich – who have a tricky trip to Wolfsburg on Saturday – at the top of the table.
But despite Dortmund’s fine form, Nagelsmann is hopeful that his underdogs will be capable of picking up a result at Signal Iduna Park.
“It will be a tough game in front of an incredible crowd,” he told Hoffenheim’s official website. “The stadium is always sold out. Dortmund play a versatile game and we will have to be focused.
“In any case, we expect to be able to take something from the game. We are not just travelling there to concede as few goals as possible.
“How much we can take from the game will depend on how bold we are, how we play on the day and how fit BVB are after their Europa League game in Porto.
“We are travelling there knowing that it’s hard to win but we still want to – just as in every other game.”
Key Opta stats:
– Dortmund are unbeaten in six competitive games against Hoffenheim (W3, D3), whose last win in this fixture dates back to the final weekend of the 2013-14 season – their 2-1 triumph in Dortmund saw them end the campaign in the relegation play-off spot.
– Dortmund dropped their first points of the campaign in the reverse fixture (1-1, previously W5).
– In the first half of 2007-08, Julian Nagelsmann played under Thomas Tuchel in the reserves at Augsburg and later worked as a scout for the current BVB boss.
– Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted his 50th Bundesliga goal for Dortmund last weekend, in what his 86th appearance. Only one BVB player managed the feat in a shorter period of time – it took Lothar Emmerich just 80 games.