MARK O'HAIRE'S (@MarkOHaire) ever-popular European NAP continues this weekend. He's heading to the Bundesliga for Sunday afternoon's action in Hoffenheim.
Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin | Sunday 17th September 2017, 12:30 | BT Sport
Having given Hoffenheim the big introduction ahead of their Europa League tie with Braga on Thursday evening, Die Kraichgauer fielded a strong side for their first group game in European competition.
Unfortunately, Hoffe failed to put their best foot forward. Despite taking the lead, Julian Nagelsmann’s troops fell to their second successive continental loss at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena, just days after overcoming mighty Bayern Munich here 2-0.
Still, TSG have avoided defeat as hosts in domestic matters since May 2016 and will be desperate to bounce back here. Having returned W18-D7-L1 in 26 home Bundesliga battles under their 30 year-old coach, I’d still want Hoffenheim onside for Sunday’s early kick-off.
Serge Gnabry is unavailable for Die Kraichgauer but they boast enough squad strength to overcome his absence and having beaten Hertha Berlin in home and away encounters last season, I think they can pocket the points again this weekend.
Hertha’s away day woes
After finishing an impressive seventh in 2016, Hertha managed a superb fifth-placed finish last time out despite losing on 15 occasions and posting a negative goal difference.
No side in Germany displayed a bigger split between their home and away performances as the Berlin boys won 12 times on home soil whilst bagging only three triumphs on their travels.
That chalk and cheese form has continued in 2017/18. The visitors were beaten at Dortmund on the opening day but have avoided defeat in home games against Stuttgart, Werder Bremen and Athletic Bilbao across all competitions.
However, Pal Dardai’s men could be without as many as six first-teamers for the trip to the capital and their lack of final-third threat could be exposed. Hertha have lost 10 of their last 11 away days and failed to even score in six of their past eight Bundesliga games as guests.
The betting angle
With Hoffe keeping clean sheets in six of their last seven as hosts on league duty and Hertha firing blanks in four of their past five away days, I’m more than happy to invest my faith in a home victory at 3/4 (BetVictor) quotes.
For those seeking a bigger price, Hoffenheim to win and Under 3.5 Goals can be backed at 33/20 (BetStars) or the home win ‘to nil’ is available at 21/10 (Ladbrokes).
Nine of Hoffe’s 13 league wins at their Sinsheim base since the start of last season came alongside clean sheet whilst Hertha were silenced in nine of their 12 away losses in the same sample, giving the win ‘to nil’ and combined 18/37 (49%) success rate and implied betting odds of around 21/20.
Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin – Hoffenheim to win (3/4 BetVictor)