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Professionals, 25. May 2023

“The fans’ support is just outstanding”

Sebastian Hoeneß previews the final home game of the 2022/23 season against TSG Hoffenheim at 15:30 CEST on Saturday.

VfB head coach Sebastian Hoeneß is expected to be without Dan-Axel Zagadou for the final game of the campaign against TSG Hoffenheim. “He’s recovered from his head injury against Mainz but has now developed a foot problem,” Hoeneß said. “We have to assume he won’t be available on Saturday.”

Konstantinos Mavropanos, however, has worked his way back to fitness and is “fully available” for the clash at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. “He’s made a good impression in training,” commented Hoeneß, who also has Borna Sosa at his disposal again following the wideman’s recovery from a mouth and throat infection. “Borna is an important player for me and for us. As far as I’m concerned, it’s clear that if Borna’s fit, he’s going to play.”

VfB looking to build on Mainz momentum

Last weekend’s 4-1 win at Mainz means VfB’s survival fate rests in their own hands once again. While the victory has undoubtedly given everyone a boost, there has been no “exaggerated sense of euphoria” this week. “Right after the game I heard a lot of positive things in the dressing room, including that we’re not going to let anyone take this opportunity from us now,” said Hoeneß. “It’s going to be a difficult task that will demand everything from us, but if we keep a clear head, have a clear mindset and give everything we’ve got – without looking left or right [at other results] – we have a good chance of leaving the pitch as winners.”

Full focus

There are a number of permutations surrounding the final day of the campaign, but Hoeneß doesn’t want any distractions. As such, there will be no updates from other games on the Mercedes-Benz Arena’s big screens this weekend. “We’ll follow our own path and only focus on ourselves,” the head coach explained. “We’ll obviously be informed about scores in games and will react accordingly – but ideally we won’t have to.”

Reunited with former club

The fact that former VfB coach Pellegrino Matarazzo is now in charge at Hoffenheim – where Hoeneß himself enjoyed a spell in charge – adds another layer of intrigue to the fixture. “It’s not an ordinary situation – I had two good years at TSG, but that has all fallen by the wayside in our preparations for the match,” said Hoeneß, who also highlighted the important role of the VfB supporters. “What I’ve experienced in Stuttgart so far has exceeded anything I ever imagined. The fans’ support is just outstanding – not only during games and not only at home, but away from home too. Once again, we’ll do all we can to provide the spark which will enable us to experience a Saturday we can all look back on fondly.”