Andrej Kramaric – the September player of the month – has not started for Hoffenheim since matchday 3. Will he take on VfB Stuttgart again on Saturday? (Kick-off: 3. 30 p.m. CET / 2. 30 p.m. GMT / 9. 30 p.m. ET).
Kramaric was named Player of the Month after scoring six goals in the first three games of the season – two of them in a 4-1 win over Bayern Munich. Since the last international break, the Croatian international has been working in isolation on his ability to play in order to be active again this weekend. And Hoffenheim, who have only scored three goals in the four Bundesliga games without the 29-year-old striker, have their talisman back. Kramaric’s return is more of a boost as both Ishak Belfodil and Munas Dabbur are absent this weekend. Melayro Bogarde falls on the bench with Stefan Posch to start in a three-man defense. Havard Nordtveit will also join the backline, with the game fitness still escaping the captain Benjamin Hübner.
While several first-team players are missing in Hoffenheim, Stuttgart coach Pellegrino Matarazzo has an almost full squad to choose from. The outfit that was promoted was one of the surprise packages of the season and was in eighth place this weekend. One of their stars is last season’s top scorer, Nicolas Gonzalez, despite missing the first three games. The 22-year-old has hit the ground since returning from injury, completing his brilliant start with two goals in as many games for Argentina during the international break. Gonzalez leads the Stuttgart attack with Gonzalo Castro and Daniel Didavi. Otherwise, long-term absences of Konstantinos Mavropanos and Erik Thommy are suspended – the guest squad is in full strength for the return of the Bundesliga.
Hoffenheim: Baumann (c) – Posch, Nordtveit, Akpoguma – Samassekou, Grillitsch, Geiger, Sessegnon – Baumgartner, Kramaric – BebouSubs: Pentke, Brenet, Adams, Gacinovic, John, Bogarde, Klauss, BeierOut: Adamyan (not included )), Belfodil (not included), Bicakcic (knee), Bruun Larsen (not included), Dabbur (not included), Hübner (ankle), Rudy (not included), Skov (not included), Stafylidis (shoulder), Vogt (not included) Trainer: Sebastian Hoeneß
Stuttgart: Kobel – Stenzel, Anton, Kempf – Silas, Endo, Mangala, Coulibaly – Didavi, Castro (c) – GonzalezSubs: Bredlow, Kalajdzic, Karazor, Churlinov, Förster, Klement, Sosa, Klimowicz, KaminskiOut: Al Ghaddioui (Pelvis), Mavropanos (knee), Mola (hip), Thommy (elbow), Awoudja (Achilles tendon) Trainer: Pellegrino Matarazzo
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