The German Bundesliga starts on August 5, and heinnews is providing extensive coverage in the buildup to the 2011-12 season with a club preview each day. Today’s team is Hoffenheim.

Three seasons ago, promoted side Hoffenheim took the Bundesliga by storm with a high octane attack which may have brought them to Europe in 2009 but Vedad Ibisevic suffered a torn ACL during the winter break that season and Hoffenheim finished just outside the Europa League spots.

Since then the provincial club has been hit with more injuries and an exit of top stars – Demba Ba, Luiz Gustavo and Carlos Eduardo. New coach Holger Stanislawski arrives and has a huge chance of leading Hoffenheim where they had dreamt of landing in 2008-09 – international football.

Stanislawski comes to Kraisgau after 18 years with St. Pauli as a player, functionary and head coach, proving to everyone that he is a man who values loyalty. And the 41-year-old recognized that the team had plenty of talent but used the millions of Dietmar Hopp, the club’s super-rich chief financial backer.

The only big loss from the final squad from last season was the departure of midfielder David Alaba, who returned to Bayern Munich following his loan in Sinsheim.

And Stanislawski brought in some strong reinforcements, including defender Fabian Johnson and Jukka Raitala (back from a loan), Argentinean midfielder Franco Zuculini and forward Sven Schipplock.

Hoffenheim will also work into their senior squad this season players from their own youth ranks, including Danish defender Jannik Vestergaard and midfielder Dominik Kaiser. They also acquired 19-year-old keeper Koen Casteels.

Those additions will help an already strong intact core of defenders Tobias Beck, Edson Braafheid, Marvin Compper, Andreas Ibertsberger, Josip Simunic and Isaach Vorsah; midfielders Sebastian Rudy, Sejad Salihovic, Gylfi Thor Sigurdsson, Boris Vukcevic and Roberto Firmino; and forwards Ibisevic, Ryan Babel, Peniel Mlapa and Chinedu Obasi.

The Nigerian international Obasi is pretty much a new addition for Hoffenheim as the creative offensive forced missed all but five games and 132 minutes of last season with a broken shin.

Sigurdsson was the team’s leading scorer last season with nine goals and the Iceland international is confident that Stanislawski’s team can play among the leaders in the Bundesliga.

“Last season we still had chances for an international spot at the beginning of the second half. If we have a run and really see it through this time, why shouldn’t we reach the Europa League?” asked Sigurdsson.

“We want to play around somewhere near the top, in the places were you can play internationally. And we want to develop step-by-step in getting there,” added Stanislawski.

 

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