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Manchester City must be curious of Hoffenheim potential

Pep Guardiola can’t relax at the moment despite his team sitting at the top of the Premier League table. He has his concerns in Champions League. Manchester City have lost their last four games in the competition and it’s a worry sign. We thought last season defeat against Basel in last 16 and quarter-finals both leg defeat against Liverpool will be a thing of the past but City started their new season also being a loser in their opening game against Olympique Lyonnais. Now, they must be curious of Hoffenheim playing away from home.

If they want to win UEFA Champions League to make their “A decade” of ownership under Sheikh Mansour memorable they need to start picking points. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a home or away fixture. However, it’s not going to be easy.

Hoffenheim haven’t started well their new campaign but they have the ability to pull out surprises. Their 31-year-old manager Julian Nagelsmann has earned lots of respect at his young age and former Hoffenheim goalkeeper Tim Wiese nicknmaed him as “Mini-Mourinho”.

If that association has anything to do with his managerial career, he can take great pride in defeating Bayern Munich in last two seasons at home. Nagelsmann helped Hoffenheim defeat Bayern Munich 1-0 and 2-0 respectively in 2016/17 and 2017/18 season playing at Rhein-Neckar-Arena.

His rise to the top at this young age is very surprising. He was managing Hoffenheim U-19 team and when club was under threat to face relegation he was appointed as club’s head coach and saved them from relegation. In the very next season, he brought them in top four of Bundesliga season in 2016/17 season and then helped them finish in top three in 2017/18 season.

Last season, his side misses out losing 6-3 aggregate against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool at play-off stage who ultimately goes on to play final. But this season, they have qualified directly to the group stage and they already have a point playing 2-2 draw away against Shakhtar Donetsk.

They want to start well at home who will have first Champions League game experience at home. Atmosphere at the stadium makes the difference in these big games and Hoffenheim boss Julian Nagelsmann is hoping that it turn out to be true knowing he has injury worries in his squad.

Julian Nagelsmann told UEFA official site, “Man City expects to win the game, but we’ve come up with a very brave plan. Our main strength is our style of play and everyone who takes the field for us tomorrow will be brave in possession.”

Nagelsmann has already announced his future plans to join RB Leipzig next season. He must be hoping to give one last great joy to Hoffenheim fans and reaching last 16 stage is their priority. They can dream big of at least finishing second in a group which includes Manchester City, Lyon, and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Hoffenheim’s head of international relations Lutz Pfannenstiel told BBC, “It’s a bonus game. We don’t have much to lose. Everyone sees them as the big favourites. But the whole world saw them as big favourites against Lyon and Lyon hurt them really badly even at City’s home ground.”

He adds, “It’s the biggest game in the history of the club so everyone is extremely hot, extremely motivated. Looking at the group with Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk and Lyon, there is an opportunity to finish second. It’s important as a football club you’re allowed to dream and you should live your dream. In the long-term, we don’t want this to be a one-off.”

Pep Guardiola will have his plans with his star players who have cost them £1 billion to decorate the squad in last decade, but Hoffenheim is very much ahead of all European clubs with their technological development.

They have a big wall of screen out there at their home turf where they train which records video of their training. They analyze the errors and areas of improvement live on the pitch by stopping the video and replaying it. No club has adopted this technological development up till now. They also have Footbonaut – a room to practice passing, with a machine which fires the ball to the players and player is expected to place the ball in a certain area which lit up.

Hoffenheim will be hoping to turn all their developments into result against Manchester City. It will give them international exposure; club knows it very well. They are seeing it as their must win game, whereas Pep Guardiola needs to find results for Manchester City. He must be curious of Hoffenheim potential.


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