Tag Archives: Hoffenheim

Bundesliga Review – Entertaining Hoffenheim rewarded with a win by Archie Rhind-Tutt

 

Markus Babbel secures a vital win as Schalke are hassled by die Hoffe…

Hoffenheim’s season so far has been eventful to say the least. On the pitch, there’s been plenty of entertainment with the matches involving die Hoffe averaging just under four goals per game – the Bundesliga’s highest. That’s impressive when you consider they’ve even had a goalless draw against Augsburg, though that was one of the more sombre moments of the season.

It came just a day after Hoffenheim midfielder Boris Vukcevic was nearly killed in a car crash. Thankfully, he’s no longer in a critical condition and is now recovering out of hospital. Vukcevic’s team hadn’t won in his absence but they didn’t get off to the best of starts with him either, picking up six points in five games. Going into this weekend’s game against an in-form Schalke, Markus Babbel’s side were lurking just outside the relegation zone.

At the beginning of this season, Babbel was both the coach and the director of football. However, as results caved in, Andreas Müller arrived to allow him to focus on coaching the team. The pressure hasn’t relented. Babbel made fourteen signings in the summer and with results not picking up, rumours have circulated that he was close to losing his job. A win in the Bundesliga was imperative. Somehow it arrived on a weekend when Hoffenheim faced one of the division’s best teams.

In true Hoffenheim style, it was a most crazy victory, encapsulating the bizarre nature of their season. That comes in itself by having Tim Wiese in goal. The German goalkeeper is one of the Bundesliga’s more eccentric characters but he’s been a figure of ridicule this season after some of his performances. Wiese though was able to answer some of his critics on Saturday.

But for a goalkeeper to do this, he needs to be tested a fair amount. Schalke’s dominance at the Rhein-Neckar Arena provided this opportunity as Wiese made some crucial saves. Even so, Hoffenheim weren’t faultless defensively. Then again, what would you expect from the worst defence in the Bundesliga?Twice the home team went ahead. Twice they were pegged back by Schalke. In their previous home game against Fürth, they managed to do this “trick” three times. Saturday was to prove different.

With the game just about to enter stoppage time the seemingly luckless Babbel made one last roll of the dice by bringing on striker Sven Schipplock. Minutes later, he was celebrating an unlikely win. Schipplock combined with another substitute, Vincenzo Grifo, to send the ball past Lars Unnerstall and lifting Hoffenheim away from the relegation zone.

It might not be long until they’re back near it. After all, this was their first victory since September. Hoffenheim are having to work hard for their wins this season too. On the three occasions they have won in the Bundesliga, they’ve scored three. Already they’ve netted three in two other instances and not emerged victorious – there’s still plenty of work to do for Coach Markus Babbel.

He talked of Saturday providing another exciting game but what he could really do with is his side grinding out a few more results and gaining some consistency. Neutrals will be hoping otherwise as Hoffenheim are proving to be one of the Bundesliga’s most entertaining teams this season.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga

  • There was increased attention on Bayern Munich this weekend – what would happen after their first league defeat of the season? Well, a win of course. They beat Hamburg 3-0 as their challengers slipped up.
  • With Schalke beaten in Hoffenheim, Borussia Dortmund failed to close the gap on either Bayern or their rivals. The Champions were held at home by an ever improving Stuttgart. Armin Veh’s Eintracht Frankfurt had to settle for a point too against a fellow promoted side, with Greuther Fürth drawing at the Commerzbank Arena. No need though to get the Veh-olin’s out just yet…
  • For some, it was a case of getting back on track this weekend. Nuremberg won for the first time in six games beating Wolfsburg in Franconia. Hannover on the other hand recovered from their first home defeat in over a year by defeating Augsburg. For Borussia Mönchengladbach though, it was disappointment after last weekend’s heroics in Hannover. The Foals slipped to a 1-1 draw against a Freiburg side progressing well under Christian Streich.
  • And finally, Sunday proved to be another entertaining day in the Bundesliga. Leverkusen and Düsseldorf played out a five goal thriller with Bayer coming out on top. Werder were the day’s other winners despite Mainz’s Adam Szalai becoming the joint top goal scorer in the division.
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Matchday 10 Results:

Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 Fürth

Borussia Dortmund 0-0 Stuttgart

Gladbach 1-1 Freiburg

Hannover 2-0 Augsburg

Hoffenheim 3-2 Schalke

Nuremberg 1-0 Wolfsburg

Hamburg 0-3 Bayern Munich

Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 Düsseldorf

Werder Bremen 2-1 Mainz

Table

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* Pts.*
1 FC Bayern Munich 10 9 0 1 30:4 +26 27 CL*
2 FC Schalke 04 10 6 2 2 20:11 +9 20 CL*
3 Eintracht Frankfurt 10 6 2 2 21:14 +7 20 CL*
4 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 10 5 3 2 18:14 +4 18 CL* Qual.
5 Borussia Dortmund 10 4 4 2 20:11 +9 16 EL* Qual.
6 Hannover 96 10 4 2 4 20:16 +4 14 EL* Qual.
7 SV Werder Bremen 10 4 2 4 17:15 +2 14
8 1. FSV Mainz 05 10 4 2 4 13:12 +1 14
9 Hamburger SV 10 4 1 5 11:14 -3 13
10 VfB Stuttgart 10 3 4 3 10:15 -5 13
11 Borussia Mönchengladbach 10 3 4 3 13:19 -6 13
12 SC Freiburg 10 3 3 4 14:13 +1 12
13 1899 Hoffenheim 10 3 2 5 16:22 -6 11
14 1. FC Nuremberg 10 3 2 5 8:15 -7 11
15 Fortuna Düsseldorf 10 2 4 4 9:15 -6 10
16 VfL Wolfsburg 10 2 2 6 6:17 -11 8 Play-offs
17 Greuther Fürth 10 1 4 5 7:16 -9 7 Relegation
18 FC Augsburg 10 1 3 6 5:15 -10 6 Relegation

Table thanks to Official Bundesliga Website

Article orginally published on Football Fan Cast

Hoffenheim – All change at the village club

Jon Hartley investigates what is happening at Hoffenheim. Turmoil or a long term plan?

We must always remember that Hoffenheim are still a very young Bundesliga club. Not only that, in their current guise Hoffenheim are not an old either. Dietmar Hopp started investing in the club just over a decade ago, and when a rise has been as rapid as this one, there are likely to be some growing pains. This has been no clearer than in the last year. In just over 12-months, Hoffenheim have seen three different coaches at the helm at the Rhein Necker Arena. The first was the man who masterminded the clubs rise through the leagues – on the pitch that is – Ralf Rangnick. Rangnick left in protest of the sale of Luis Gustavo to Bayern Munich in the January transfer window of 2011, which was perhaps the first sign that all was not right at the Bundesliga baby. Stepping into his shoes was Marco Pezzaiuoli who was Rangnick’s assistant. Pezzaiuoli’s tenure was an extended caretaker role at best, and pretty unremarkable. The club bobbed around in midtable between 7th and 11th during the entirety of his time in charge, and only picked up an average of a point a game…hardly anything to get the blood racing.

Former Hoffenheim Coach - Ralf Rangnick

But before the end of the last season, Hoffenheim announced that St. Pauli coach Holger Stanislawski would be the man taking the club forward. Having been at St. Pauli for 18-years, the move to Hoffenheim certainly had its pros and cons. In Hamburg he could almost do no wrong. St. Pauli may have been heading for the drop, but he was still the club hero and orchestrated their promotion to the top flight. But life at St. Pauli can never be considered normal, far from it in fact, and after such a long time at football’s favourite madhouse, it was time to move on to something completely different but no less challenging. Hoffenheim certainly ticks the box on being different, but the switch from the Reeperbahn to the Rhein-Necker hasn’t been an instant success, but why should it be assumed that it would be? Every club has its challenges and Hoffenheim is no different.

Current Hoffenheim Manager - Holger Stanislawski

You would think that being at a club that is essentially bankrolled by a monied individual like Dietmar Hopp would allow any manager free reign in the transfer market, but it must be stressed that Hoffenheim are not Manchester City. With recent departures – especially Gustavo – there was a change in attitude concerning transfer policy and it appeared that Hoffenheim had suddenly become a selling club. So even before Stanislawski’s arrival, the magic formula that brought the club to the top table had started to become diluted, and other players were set to head away from Hoffenheim.

In addition to Gustavo’s departure, striker Demba Ba fashioned his exit from the club in order to make his way to England and Vedad Ibisevic has also made his move to Stuttgart. But please don’t think that these exits amount to wholesale asset stripping in Sinsheim. By Ibisevic’s admission, it was time to leave Hoffenheim and seek a new challenge, and it was probably time for Hoffenheim to seek a new front man as well. With the selling of these players, it would be easy to look at what has happened at Hoffenheim and think that they have lost their ambition, but I would tend to disagree. I think that Hoffenheim have just started to play the game in the ‘real world’ of football. Even for the mega rich Dietmar Hopp, a football club like Hoffenheim would be unsustainable if he threw good money after bad in a quest for the title.

Hoffenheim have become a little more pragmatic in their approach, but I still believe that in the long term they will be punching around the European places. Stanislawski is an ambitious guy, and he is also used to getting success without having a bottomless pit of money. He also needs to fashion his own squad, and is beginning to do that despite the teething problems he’s had with team discipline. Chinedu Obasi and Roberto Firmino were reprimanded for being late for training during the autumn, and Tom Starke had a ticking off for speaking out in interviews. Obasi has now gone to Schalke, and I can only imagine, that its been made clear to the other players what is expected of them. This transition may not be pretty, but it may be for the best.

New Hoffenheim Striker - Srdjan Lakic

In all this talk of exits, its right to point out that players have been coming in as well. Before the end of the transfer window Hoffenheim signed Ibisevic’s replacement, Srdjan Lakic from Wolfsburg, This should be a good signing for Stanislawski and for Hoffenheim, as Lakic is a player that proved his worth with Kaiserslautern by hitting 16 goals last season. That was enough to attract Wolfsburg to take a punt on him, but sadly not every player flourishes at the Volkswagen Arena, and Lakic was one of the masses who didn’t. But with Stanislawski, Lakic has a situation that he is used to, a manager similar to that of old Kaiserslautern boss Marco Kurz. From the outside, Kurz has the appearance as a manager who likes to support a player, and that is the reputation of Stanislawski as well. Let’s also not forget that Lakic is a player that his new boss knows a lot about. With St. Pauli, Stani went toe to toe with Kaiserslautern and Lakic when they both got promoted, so he knows as well as anyone else the player he is getting.

So far from selling the Hoffenheim jewels, the club are investing when needed but also cashing in when viable, both of which could good business for the future. Hoffenheim are no long the silver plated fairy story they used to be, but they could certainly be around to make their mark in the Bundesliga for sometime to come. Also bear in mind that Stanislawski was at St. Pauli for 18-years, so he knows how to stick it out at a club – given the chance and this could be a project for the long haul.