MX23RW : Wednesday, March 3 09:39:08| >> :600:306886:306886:
Feb 25, 2021 at 5.55pm UK at Rhein-Neckar-Arena
HoffenheimHoffenheim
0-2
MoldeMolde

Rudy (83')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Ulland Andersen (20', 90+4')
Linde (73'), Ellingsen (83'), Ulland Andersen (90+5')

Preview: Hoffenheim vs. Molde - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League clash between Hoffenheim and Molde, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Hoffenheim take on Molde in the second leg of their Europa League last-32 knockout match, with the tie finely poised after last week's 3-3 draw on neutral territory in Villarreal.

Bundesliga outfit Hoffenheim do have home advantage on their side in the second leg, albeit without fans, which they will be hoping can help carry them through into the next round.


Match preview

Hoffenheim coach Sebastian Hoeness pictured on February 18, 2021© Reuters

After racing into a two-goal lead via Munas Dabbur's brace, Hoffenheim made the perfect start against Molde in what was the club's first ever European knockout match. Martin Ellingsen pulled one back for the Norwegian outfit before Christoph Baumgartner restored Sebastian Hoeness's side's two-goal cushion moments before half time.

However, Molde showed serious resolve to level the tie in the second half, with Eirik Ulland Andersen and Datro Fofana both striking within five minutes of each other to leave the tie finely balanced ahead of Thursday's second leg.

All in all, though, a high-scoring draw is never a bad result away from home in Europe. Moreover, Hoffenheim would have taken great confidence from Saturday's impressive 4-0 win against Werder Bremen, which took them up to 11th in the Bundesliga and eight points clear of the relegation zone.

Indeed, with European qualification and relegation both appearing unlikely, the Europa League may now become Hoeness's priority for the rest of the campaign. The 38-year-old must guard his players against complacency on Thursday, though, with Molde illustrating in the first leg that they are a dangerous proposition on their day.

Molde's Martin Ellingsen scores against Dundalk in the Europa League on December 3, 2020© Reuters

Given that the first leg was Molde's first competitive match since the Norwegian season ended in December, their fightback against their wealthier German opponents was even more impressive.

Ellingsen's third strike in Europe this season gave Erling Moe's side hope prior to an impressive second half performance, although they certainly rode their luck at times with Hoffenheim testing goalkeeper Andreas Linde on no fewer than 13 occasions.

With the 2021 Norwegian season not beginning until early April, Moe will be hoping his side can remain in competitive European action by claiming a surprise victory in Hoffenheim on Thursday.

They will almost certainly require inspirational performances from the likes of Ellingsen and former Manchester United midfielder Magnus Wolff Eikrem in order to do so.

Hoffenheim Europa League form: WWWDWD
Hoffenheim form (all competitions): WLLDDW

Molde Europa League form: WLLWDD
Molde form (all competitions): LWWWWD


Team News

Hoffenheim's Andrej Kramaric celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on December 20, 2019© Reuters

Hoffenheim remain without several first-team players, although their top goalscorer Andrej Kramaric returned sooner than expected as a substitute in the win over Bremen on Saturday and could start against Molde.

Mijat Gacinovic, Stefan Posch, Robert Skov, Havard Nordtveit, Kevin Akpoguma, Dennis Geiger, Ermin Bicakcic, Benjamin Hubner and Kostas Stafylidis are all likely to remain unavailable due to injury, though.

Molde will travel to Germany without Ola Brynhildsen, who is recovering from a fractured leg, but otherwise they appear to have a clean bill of health to choose from.

Moe is unlikely to change anything from the XI which performed admirably in Villarreal last week, although Fofana will be hoping for a start after scoring from the bench.

Hoffenheim possible starting lineup:
Baumann; Kasim, Vogt, Richards; Gacinovic, Rudy, Samassekou, John; Baumgartner; Dabbur, Kramaric

Molde possible starting lineup:
Linde; Pedersen, Bjornbak, Gregersen, Haugen; Bolly, Aursnes, Ellingsen, Andersen; Sigurdarson, Eikrem


SM words green background

We say: Hoffenheim 3-1 Molde (6-4 on aggregate)

We expect Hoffenheim to have learned their lessons from the first leg and keep Molde at arm's length, especially with home advantage on their side.

Whether Kramaric starts or appears from the bench, the Croatian has the ability to make a decisive difference if it proves to be required.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:data


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How you voted: Hoffenheim vs Molde

Hoffenheim
80.0%
Draw
10.0%
Molde
10.0%
140
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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pictured in February 2021
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Tables
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2RB Leipzig23155343202350
3Wolfsburg23129237191845
4Eintracht FrankfurtFrankfurt23119346321442
5Borussia DortmundDortmund23123848311739
6Bayer LeverkusenB. Leverkusen23107641261537
7Union BerlinUnion Berlin23810536261034
8Freiburg239773735234
9Borussia MonchengladbachBorussia M'bach238964036433
10Stuttgart238874436832
11Hoffenheim2376103740-327
12Werder Bremen226882632-626
13Augsburg2375112335-1226
14FC Koln2356122141-2021
15Hertha Berlin2346132642-1618
16Arminia Bielefeld2253141841-2318
17Mainz 052345142344-2117
18Schalke 04Schalke2316161661-459

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