New Augsburg striker Ricardo Pepi could make his Bundesliga debut against compatriot Chris Richards and Hoffenheim on Saturday (kick-off: 3.30 p.m. CET).
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Richards was an unused replacement as Hoffenheim came back from behind to draw Borussia Mönchengladbach ahead of the winter break, but are expected to return to the starting lineup this weekend. The US international defender, on a second loan to Sinsheim from Bayern Munich, is set to make his 30th appearance in the Bundesliga. Another youngster with Bayern history could also get the green light, midfielder Angelo Stiller should benefit from the summons of Diadie Samassekou to the Malian team for the Africa Cup of Nations. Munas Dabbur and Georginio Rutter started against Gladbach, but Ihlas Bebou pushed for a recall in attack, alongside Andrej Kramaric. Unbeaten in six, Sebastian Hoeneß’s side could climb to third place if the results improve.
Augsburg spent the winter 15th, just one point away from the relegation play-off room occupied by VfB Stuttgart, despite two draws and a victory over their last three. Needless to say, the arrival of US hopeful Pepi provides a timely boost to a team looking anxiously over their shoulders and in need of a regular goalscorer. The 18-year-old’s 13-goal tally in 31 Major League Soccer appearances this season for FC Dallas – Richards’ former home – suggests that’s exactly what they are getting. Although Augsburg would have paid a record-breaking fee for his services, the seven-time USMNT international could start this one off the bench as he dipping his feet into German football. Reece Oxford is suspended, meanwhile, with new Felix Uduokhai his likely replacement in central defense.
Look: Pepi arrives in Augsburg
- Kramaric needs one more goal to reach 100 in the competitive matches for Hoffenheim. He has scored twice in the Bundesliga this season, while registering seven assists, including the latter’s hat-trick against Augsburg on Matchday 1.
- Hoffenheim have collected 16 of 18 possible points in their last six home games.
- Hoeneß’s side lead the league in terms of goals scored in the last 15 minutes of the game (12).
- Pepi made his United States debut in September, registering one goal and two assists, and scored a pair of goals on his next outing.
- Augsburg has lost only one of its last six matches (V2, D3).
- the Fuggerstädtershe victory in Cologne on Matchday 15 remains their only victory away from the campaign.
Hoffenheim: Baumann (c) – Posch, Vogt, Richards – Akpoguma, Stiller, Geiger, Raum – Baumgartner – Bebou, Kramaric
Outside: Adams (illness), Bicakcic (not included), Samassekou (Africa Cup of Nations), Skov (thigh)
Doubtful: Adamyan (not included), John (fitness match), Nordtveit (illness)
Coach: Sebastian hoeneß
Augsburg: Gikiewicz – Gumny, Gouweleeuw (c), Uduokhai, Iago – Caligiuri, Maier, Dorsch, Vargas – Hahn, Zeqiri
Outside: Finnbogason (fitness match), Koubek (not included), Oxford (suspended), Pedersen (knee), Strobl (knee)
Coach: Markus Weinzierl