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Sports

Hoffenheim

Hoffenheim coach Ralf Rangnick

Is coach Ralf Rangnick just bluffing with his modest words?

Where the heck is Hoffenheim, you ask? Most Germans don't know, either, but don't let that fool you. This club is backed by software billionaire Dietmar Hopp, and in soccer, as the old saying goes: money talks and...well, you know the rest.

Coach Ralf Rangnick has been busy trying to dampen expectations.

"We're complete neophytes," the intellectual ex-Schalke skipper has said. "If we keep away from the drop zone, it would be a huge achievement."

Otherwise, Rangnick and Hoffenheim are sticking with a solid squad front to back that looked impressive in the second division last season.

Their one new major acquisition, 21-year-old defensive talent Andreas Beck, looks ready for prime time as well. He probably won't take Hoffenheim up to the top half of the first division, but they should be able to establish themselves somewhere between 10th and 12th. And should they falter early, they can always make recourse to Hopp's checkbook during the winter break.

Major arrivals: Andreas Beck

Major departures: none