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Aerial strength secures three points


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For the TSG Hoffenheim players, the week started almost as nicely as the previous one had ended. The enormously important 2-1 victory in Bremen from the night before was still fresh and front of mind as the players gathered in Zuzenhausen for a warm-down in optimal weather conditions. The pervasive presence of spring had submerged the horizon in TSG blue, which made for a perfect backdrop at an extremely important point of the season for Hoffenheim – and one at which they are finally enjoying some success again.

Two victories from two games, six points and a three-point cushion over the relegation play-off place represents a remarkable recent record, considering that the club had dropped into bottom spot in the league shortly before the end of the winter.

However, the return of success is hardly attributable to the increase in the temperatures and hours of sunshine; the team has noticeably sparked into life and rediscovered some of its long-lost strengths. That also applies above all to Andrej Kramarić, who has scored three of TSG’s past four goals and has found the net in two successive Bundesliga games for the first time in almost two years. The Croat is now four goals away from setting another impressive record: 100 Bundesliga goals in a TSG Hoffenheim shirt.

But staying in the division is much more important than the next record – and that is why the forward was in high spirits and visibly relieved as he spoke after the game in Bremen, where he once scored his first-ever TSG goal in an equally precarious situation: “It was a very important match. We picked up three very important points and are ecstatic.”

Kramarić played a big part in the triumph thanks to his header (50). The fact Christoph Baumgartner followed up with another headed goal a matter of minutes later (52) attests to Hoffenheim’s aerial prowess. Not just in Bremen but in general, as demonstrated by their record of eight headed goals this season. That’s the fourth-highest number in the league for TSG, with Baumgartner in an even higher position in the individual ranking: three headed goals put the Austrian in joint-third spot. Following his goal in Bremen, the midfielder was also singled out for special praise by a former player renowned for his heading prowess: DAZN pundit Sandro Wagner was impressed, much to the delight of Baumgartner: “If Sandro says it was a monster header, then I’m honoured. He scored headers even more often while wearing the Hoffenheim No. 14 shirt. But if I was able to imitate him a bit, I’m delighted.”

But Hoffenheim’s goalscoring duo of Kramarić and Baumgartner are not the only ones back in top form in time for the season run-in. The defenders and of course the crossers have also been very much on an upward trajectory recently. Pavel Kadeřábek notched his first assist of the campaign in Bremen, while Angelino took his tally to seven assists in the first away victory since Matchday 10 (3-0 at FC Schalke 04) and is now TSG’s top provider.

The next chance to win – and therefore the next big opportunity to move further away from the danger zone and boost the spring mood at TSG – will come in the return fixture at home to Schalke on Easter Sunday (19:30 CET / Live Ticker at tsg-hoffenheim.de)

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Aerial strength secures three points

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