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Challenges in TSG Hoffenheim’s Defense: Rebuilding After Nsoki’s Suspension and Akpoguma’s Injury

After Stanley Nsoki’s yellow-red card against 1.FC Union, Pellegrino Matarazzo has to rebuild TSG Hoffenheim’s defense again. An alternative is wobbling.

Can he play? Kevin Akpoguma. IMAGO/Christian Schroedter

Because Kevin Akpoguma recently only trained individually due to back problems. The next few days of training will have to show whether he will be fit for the guest appearance at Borussia Dortmund on Sunday (5.30 p.m., LIVE! at kicker.de). Now that Nsoki is suspended, coach Matarazzo is forced to test new alternatives in the permanent construction site at the back left. Akpoguma could be one of those if he returns to team training on time. The 28-year-old has not really been able to establish himself under Matarazzo so far. A penalty that would speak against him would be the reverse opening of the game, which he would have to do there as a right-footed player.

A bonus in the “internal competition” against John Anthony Brooks, who is available again after his yellow card suspension, is his more light-footed start and his higher top speed. Brooks could also slide into the center, although deputy Florian Grillitsch did well against Union for a long time – before he made a decisive mistake with a sloppy bad pass before the 0-1 lead. Almost symbolic for TSG in the current phase, in which the Kraichgauers have only managed one win since November.

An alternative for Matarazzo would be to return to the back four formation with Ozan Kabak and Brooks (or Akpoguma) in central defense and Robert Skov or David Jurasek on the left defensive side. The latter, who joined the squad on loan from Benfica Lisbon in January, has only made two short appearances so far.

Jurasek, as a variant with offensive potential, would bring a certain surprise effect, which the coach could use given the recently lame attack line. Of course, in Dortmund it won’t be about Matarazzo’s job yet, in Hoffenheim they are already aware that they are traveling to the Ruhr area as outsiders. But: A week later, TSG awaits Werder Bremen and given the following opponents (Eintracht Frankfurt/A, VfB Stuttgart/H, Bayer Leverkusen/A), the expectations will probably be different against the Hanseatic League at the latest.

2024-02-21 20:07:59
#replace #Nsoki #Akpoguma #wobbles

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