MX23RW : Thursday, December 2 15:27:01| >> :600:518392:518392:
Sep 19, 2020 at 2.30pm UK at RheinEnergieStadion
FC KolnFC Koln
Andersson (22'), Drexler (86')
Bornauw (33'), Duda (69'), Hector (85')
FT(HT: 1-2)
Kramaric (4', 45+3' pen., 90+2')
Bicakcic (45+5'), Bebou (90'), Baumann (90'), Kaderabek (90+5')

Preview: FC Koln vs. Hoffenheim - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Bundesliga clash between Koln and Hoffenheim, including team news and predicted lineups.

FC Koln will welcome Hoffenheim to the RheinEnergieStadion for the opening weekend of the 2020-21 Bundesliga campaign.

Koln ended up in 14th at the end of last season, while Hoffenheim secured a top-six finish and a route into the Europa League.

Match preview

Koln head coach Markus Gisdol pictured on May 27, 2020© Reuters

Koln suffered a woeful end to the 2019-20 Bundesliga campaign and failed to win a single game following the resumption of the top flight back in May.

Nevertheless, a strong set of results earlier in the season paid dividends for Markus Gisdol and co as Koln's 36 points were enough to guarantee survival and another year in the big time.

The Billy Goats have since revelled in an impressive summer of pre-season matches - winning five out of their six games in August - with the solitary defeat coming against Europa League contenders Wolfsburg.

Gisdol's side did manage to pick up three victories from four before the coronavirus pandemic saw sport come to a grinding halt, so it is fair to say that the enforced shutdown heavily affected the Billy Goats, who will look to avoid a similar bout of capitulation this time around.

Koln returned to competitive action last Saturday in round one of the DFB-Pokal, and Gisdol's side eased to a 6-0 victory over fourth-tier Altglienicke.

Hoffenheim's Steven Zuber and Christoph Baumgartner celebrate score on May 27, 2020© Reuters

With Sebastian Hoeness gearing up for his first season in the Hoffenheim dugout, the 38-year-old must prepare for an unrelenting campaign trying to juggle domestic and European commitments.

Hoffenheim secured three consecutive victories against Augsburg, Union Berlin and Borussia Dortmund at the end of last season and finished sixth with a three-point lead over seventh-placed Wolfsburg.

Die Kraichgauer can look forward to a return to European competition after a one-year absence from the international stage, but the Champions League is where Hoffenheim truly want to be, and the Europa League contenders will certainly dream of breaking into the top four this season.

Hoeness's side must not let their Bundesliga campaign suffer as a result of their Europa League commitments, but Die Kraichgauer managed to secure third spot in the 2017-18 season whilst competing in Europe, so there is cause for optimism for the Hoffenheim faithful.

Hoffenheim managed to advance to the second round of the DFB-Pokal last weekend, but Die Kraichgauer needed a penalty shoot-out to overcome fourth-tier side Chemnitzer following a 2-2 draw after 120 minutes.

Hoffenheim did the double over Koln last season, with a 2-1 away victory preceding a 3-1 win on home soil for Die Kraichgauer back in May.

FC Koln form (all competitions): W

Hoffenheim form (all competitions): W

Team News

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

Koln have recently welcomed goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler to the club on loan from Hannover, but mainstay Timo Horn should retain his place in between the sticks.

Kingsley Ehizibue is expected to start at right-back in place of Benno Schmitz, who was forced off at the weekend, while left-sided duo Florian Kainz and Ismail Jakobs are long-term absentees.

Gisdol is facing a selection dilemma up top without Jhon Cordoba and Mark Uth, so Sebastian Andersson could be thrown into the first XI just days after arriving from Union Berlin.

Meanwhile, Hoffenheim are in a defensive crisis, with Benjamin Hubner struggling with a ligament injury in his ankle and out of Saturday's clash.

Havard Nordtveit and Konstantinos Stafylidis are also on the treatment table, and the injuries keep piling up for Hoeness as Pavel Kaderabek and Stefan Posch both had to be withdrawn in the DFB-Pokal victory.

Andrej Kramaric, who bagged 12 Bundesliga goals last season, is reportedly nursing a groin problem but should be deemed OK to start this one.

FC Koln possible starting lineup:
T. Horn; Ehizibue, Bornauw, Czichos, J. Horn; Hector, Skhiri; Thielmann, Duda, Drexler; Andersson

Hoffenheim possible starting lineup:
Baumann; Brenet, Vogt, Bicakcic, Skov; Bebou, Grillitsch, Samassekou, Larsen; Kramaric, Dabbur

SM words green background

We say: FC Koln 2-2 Hoffenheim

Koln will undoubtedly be desperate to end their winless streak in the Bundesliga and will fancy their chances against a Hoffenheim defence ravaged by injuries. The visitors cannot afford to perform like they did in last weekend's cup fixture if they are to get something from this game, and there could be goals aplenty in this one, but we expect both teams to walk away with a point to show for their efforts.

Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away 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/Away:data

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Bayern Munich players celebrate scoring against Eintracht Frankfurt in the DFB-Pokal semi-finals on June10, 2020
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