Opinion: Julian Nagelsmann guiding Hoffenheim to big Bundesliga finish | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 07.04.2019
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Opinion: Julian Nagelsmann guiding Hoffenheim to big Bundesliga finish

With RB Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt looking set to qualify for the Champions League, the Europa League places are still up for grabs in the Bundesliga. Julian Nagelsmann is leading Hoffenheim to a big finish.

Sometimes it's worth reflecting on the incredible job Julian Nagelsmann has done at Hoffenheim.

When he took over in February 2016 to become the youngest ever Bundesliga coach at the age of 28, they were 17th in the Bundesliga, seven points from safety, and staring into the abyss.

Nagelsmann guided them to seven wins from their remaining 14 games, which saw them finish a point above the relegation zone. A year later, they'd finished fourth and qualified for the Champions League. It's been a staggering turnaround.

Having been stripped of the spine of his team, with Niklas Süle, Sebastian Rudy and Sandro Wagner all snapped up by Bayern Munich and Jeremy Toljan sold to Dortmund, there was an expectation that things would fall apart. If anything, it revealed just how good Nagelsmann is, as the coach has been forced to regenerate his squad with smart signings and motivate his remaining players to reach new heights.

One of the players Nagelsmann has recruited as part of that rebuilding process is striker Ishak Belfodil. The French Algerian was signed from Standard Liege for €5.5million after proving his pedigree in the Bundesliga on loan with Werder Bremen.

Bundesliga FC Augsburg v TSG 1899 Hoffenheim | Tor Belfodil (Getty Images/Bongarts/A. Pretty)

Ishak Belfodil, right, now has 14 goals this season for Hoffenheim.

Belfodil has scored 14 goals this season and was the difference against Augsburg on Sunday. Three clinical finishes saw him notch up his first career hat-trick, nine days and one game on from seeing Andrej Kramaric deny him a hat-trick by pinching it on the line. Both players are playing the best football of their career and maximizing their talent, and the same can be said for many others in the blue of Hoffenheim. There's only one man who can take the credit for that, and that's Nagelsmann.

Hoffenheim's victory, the biggest defeat Augsburg have suffered at home this season, leaves Hoffenheim in range of qualifying for the Europa League, which would be a fine sign-off for Nagelsmann as he departs for RB Leipzig next season. Hoffenheim have won three of their last four games and lost only once since losing to Bayern Munich in January.

With Borussia Mönchengladbach inconsistent and Wolfsburg only a point ahead, Hoffenheim enter the home straight of the season as the form team in the race to finish fifth. And that would be yet another remarkable achievement in the fledgling career of one of Germany's brightest coaches.