Gaps and deficits are becoming apparent in Hoffenheim’s defense chain – which also have to do with bad investments in recent years.
Before the next opportunity? Attila Szalai could start against Bochum. IMAGO/HMB Media
What is certain is that TSG Hoffenheim will lose part of the three-man chain with Kevin Akpoguma (yellow suspension) compared to the last good game in Gladbach (1:2). In addition, Ozan Kabak is also in danger of missing out on Friday evening’s home game against Bochum (8.30 p.m., LIVE! on kicker). The Turk suffered a bruised iliac crest and was unable to train until Wednesday. Both were largely responsible for the defeat in Gladbach with individual mistakes and positional errors.
Now the question arises about alternatives. “We have Attila Szalai, who can play on the left, we have John Anthony Brooks, who can play centrally again, we have Kasim Adams, we have Stanley Nsoki, who still lacks rhythm, he hasn’t played in a game for a long time,” explained Coach Pellegrino Matarazzo, “and we also have Pavel Kaderabek, who also played half-back on the right.”
Szalai hasn’t been able to convince as a player yet, but as a person he has
The options, which only appear to be generous at first glance, prove on closer inspection that Hoffenheim has a quality problem and bad investments in central defense in recent years. For example, the Kraichgauer team transferred an impressive 12.3 million euros to Fenerbahce Istanbul in the summer for Szalai, but so far the Hungarian international player has only made three appearances. So far he hasn’t been able to convince Matarazzo as a defender, but as a person he has.
“I’ve rarely met a guy like him, so extremely positive, energetic, supportive and always there when you need him,” assures the 46-year-old, “he never has a bad word or bad body language, I have to say, it’s impressive , how he dealt with his situation, with the little playing time he got. One reason why he stuck with it and never lost touch. Now that a position is opening up, he may have the chance to redeem himself show.” Then it would be time to start justifying the high fee.
Three left-footed central defenders who leave a lot to be desired
Predecessor Nsoki is still far away from this. TSG had also brought the Frenchman from FC Brugge a year earlier for twelve million euros, but in his 19 appearances in the first year he regularly ruined good approaches with serious mistakes, and several injuries limited his playing practice to just one appearance in the current season . After persistent problems with his patellar tendon, the 23-year-old is currently only an alternative for the bench.
Brooks, on the other hand, came to the then relegation-threatened TSG from Lisbon in the winter as a bargain for just 300,000 euros and helped to stabilize the defense. In the long term, however, the former US international, whose contract expires in the summer, seems to only remain an episode because he tends to position himself too deep due to a lack of speed.
Three left-footed central defenders, all of whom leave a lot to be desired and who – more or less coincidentally – are all represented by the same consulting agency. By the way, they had also guided Adams, whom Matarazzo had spoken to, from Bern to Kraichgau in 2018 for at least eight million euros. But the Ghanaian, who has now been getting advice from another agency, never made a breakthrough at TSG and remained a flop. Let’s see if and who else can get the hang of it.
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