Hopp hopes for Hoffenheim crown

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The Independent Football

TSG Hoffenheim supremo Dietmar Hopp is hopeful that his club can maintain their place at the top of the Bundesliga table in the second half of the season.

Hopp has overseen his club’s rise from amateur football in Germany and Hoffenheim have made an immediate impact in the top-flight by being crowned winter champions as the Bundesliga takes a mid-season break.

Hopp told Bild: “We are deserved winter champions. If we keep it up we are a force to be reckoned with.

“I am not saying we will be champions but we will hang on up there.”

Hoffe coach Ralf Rangnick is also upbeat about the prospects for the next few months, adding: “I would not have believed it if someone would have told me that after 17 matches we would have had 35 points.

“We cannot take big steps anymore. Now it is all about maintaining that level and improving step by step.”

The German Football League have confirmed that Markus Babbel will not be allowed to remain in charge at VfB Stuttgart beyond the end of the current campaign.

The former Germany defender took up the reins following the recent sacking of coach Armin Veh and Babbel is unbeaten in his four games in charge before the winter break.

However, he does not have the required coaching badges needed to be a long-term appointment.

DFL general manager Holger Hieronymus commented: “An extension is out of the question.

“We have taken into consideration that Markus Babbel has the A-licence and he was already a member of Stuttgart's coaching team, so we can justify making an exception until the end of the season.”

Babbel's efforts have seen Stuttgart rise to tenth place in the Bundesliga table, although they are ten points adrift of current league leaders Hoffenheim.