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Match Preview: Dortmund vs Hoffenheim

BVB welcome relegation threatened Hoffenheim to the Westfalenstadion

Alexander Scheuber/Getty Images

Dortmund are back in action in the Bundesliga on Sunday as they welcome TSG 1899 Hoffenheim to the Westfalenstadion.

BVB are coming off a midweek fixture in Porto that saw them win 1-0 on the day and advance to the Europa League Round of 16, where they will play Tottenham Hotspur.  The home side must avoid losing focus on the Bundesliga, with big fixtures in Europe and the DFB-Pokal on the horizon.

BVB were victorious over Porto on Thursday

BVB were victorious over Porto on Thursday

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Dortmund fans will be encouraged by the fact that they are still unbeaten at home this season. BVB haven't conceded a goal in the Bundesliga since a 3-1 win against Monchengladbach on January 23rd. They haven't been defeated in Bundesliga play since a 2-1 loss to FC Koln back on December 19th. Hoffenheim did manage a draw in September when these two teams last played each other.

Hoffenheim have struggled this season and still find themselves in 17th place and the relegation zone. New manager Julian Nagelsmann has shown signs of possibly being able to lift Hoffenheim out of the relegation zone since taking over on February 10th for Huub Stevens. Nagelsmann is only 28-years-old and is officially the youngest Bundesliga manager of all time.

Last week Hoffenheim beat a Mainz team that had won three games in a row. Nagelsmann's men went down early but responded well by scoring three unanswered goals on their way to a 3-2 victory. Before that match Hoffenheim hadn't won in their last five games in the Bundesliga.

Goals have been relatively hard to come by for Hoffenheim this season. They've only scored 22 in the league, the third worst tally after Hannover and Ingolstadt.

Young German forward Kevin Volland is their leading scorer, with five goals on the season. Volland will likely be playing with Mark Uth in attack. Uth scored two goals in the win against Mainz. Rumors are already swirling about which club will snap up Volland if Hoffenheim are relegated this season.

Kevin Volland in action for Hoffenheim

Kevin Volland in action for Hoffenheim

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The absence of Greek defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos due to injury may give a slight boost to Hoffenheim's attack. Much of the game will depend on how well the second center-back can slot in for Sokratis alongside Mats Hummels. Mathias Ginter played in defense for the entire match with Porto, but Neven Subotic could very well get his fourth start in the Bundesliga this season. Thomas Tuchel may even choose to go with Sven Bender at center-back.

Elsewhere for Dortmund the illness going around the dressing room seems to have subsided, and Ilkay Gundogan should feature once again in central midfield. Check out our full lineup analysis piece ahead of this match.

Bayern Munich lead Dortmund in the table by eight points with 12 games to go. While it is unlikely that a team as good as Bayern will be caught from this position, Tuchel will still want to get the best result possible from the remaining Bundesliga games to at least solidify BVB's position in second place. If Dortmund are going to dream of catching the league leaders Tuchel will certainly need his players to win this match and to win when Bayern come to town on March 5th.