Normally you would not be too bothered about a -2 goal difference after fourteen matches, that is unless you’re the Hoffenheim coach. The good news is that so far, only Borussia Dortmund have scored more goals in the Bundesliga that Markus Gisdol’s team. The bad news is that no other team has conceded more.
Last Saturday, the Sinsheim club welcomed guests Werder Bremen to the Rhein Necker Arena. They stormed into a 2-0 lead after eighteen minutes with two penalties from Bosnian midfielder, Sejad Salihović, the second being a cheeky chip to catch Bremen ‘keeper, Raphael Wolf, unawares. Bremen stormed back just before halftime with a penalty of their own, scored by Aaron Hunt. The second came as a consequence of Hoffenheim ‘keeper Koen Casteels somehow managing to let a centered ball go between his hand and the near post, across the face of the goal and straight to Eljero Elia.
Kevin Volland put the home side back in front, minutes after the restart and Kai Herdling extended the Hoffenheim lead to 4-2 with a larrup from distance. Game over? Not a chance. Back came Bremen with an unmarked Nils Petersen on 59 minutes and finally, with seconds remaining on the clock Philipp Bargfrede equalised. 4-4 was the final result which left Hoffenheim coach beside himself with frustration.
That’s 34 (thirty four) goals conceded so far this season for Hoffenheim and goalkeeper Koen Casteels will almost certainly be the big casualty of this latest debacle. Gisdol said after the match that the 21 year old was a talented player but not quite up to Bundesliga standard. It is, however, worth bearing in mind that Bremen dropped their regular ‘keeper Sebastian Mielitz for this game and look what happened to them.
Away from the maelstrom at Sinsheim it was business as usual at the top of the table. Bayern Munich maintained their four point gap at the summit with a win over bottom club Eintracht Braunschweig. This was thanks to a nicely taken first half brace from Arjen Robben (his first was a header from his own rebounded shot off the post). The Champions pretty much left it there, choosing not to make an example of the newly promoted Braunschweig, possibly mindful of a tricky trip to Augsburg on Wednesday in the Cup.
Heung Min Son is a player who, like the rest of his Bayer Leverkusen teammates, did not do himself justice against Manchester United in the Champions League, last week. A graceful forward, the South Korean can be both explosive and subtle. He scored two goals in Leverkusen’s 3-0 win over second from bottom Nuremberg, the second of which was a gorgeous floating lob. Leverkusen stay second.
And Borussia Dortmund stay third on account of two penalties for Robert Lewandowski and a very clever long range free kick from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who shaped up to shoot for the far post but instead went to the near post. Lovely stuff. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored an equaliser from Mainz in this game before Lewandowski got involved.
Elsewhere, HSV Hamburg’s Hakan Çalhanoğlu is a 19 year old svelte midfielder with a talent for dead balls. His free kick against Wolfsburg may have hit the bar and bounced off the ‘keeper before going over the line but that didn’t take anything away from the awesomeness of the shot. Ricardo Rodriguez levelled from the spot and that’s how the game ended.
Schalke coach Jen Keller remains under pressure despite still being in the Champions League (just) and being fifth in the table. Jefferson Farfan was at the double in their 3-0 win against a Stuttgart side who are fading away after a positive start under their new coach, Thomas Schneider.
Freiburg proved tough to breakdown for Borussia Mönchengladbach but not impossible. Raffael turned in a cross from full-back Oscar Wendt who was one of the few players to get behind the Freiburg back four all afternoon. It was tough on Freiburg who should have scored through Mike Hanke and/or Sebastian Freis. Also, Hertha Berlin drew 0-0 with Augsburg.
Finally, Hannover finally broke an eight game winless streak with a 2-0 win at home to Eintracht Frankfurt. The game featured a top drawer free kick and a disallowed goal which at first appeared scandalous. It looked like Mame Biram Diouf (scorer of the opening goal) had been penalised for simply competing with a ball from a long punt up the field by goalkeeper Ron Robert Zieler. The ball dropped for Artur Sobiech to score but in fact it was he was who was offside as the ball had been initially launched by Zieler. This was missed by everyone except the linesman. It went from being the worst decision you’ve ever seen to the best.
That would have put Hannover 2-0 up but it didn’t matter because they scored a second after 67 minutes with a magnificent free kick by the Hungarian Szabolcs Huszti. The free kick itself wasn’t without controversy as only moments earlier Frankfurt had a decent penalty shout at the other end.
This week, the third round of the DFB Pokal (German Cup) gets underway with third division Saarbrücken at home to Borussia Dortmund being the pick of the ties. Next Saturday, Dortmund will try to recover second place in a big match against second place Bayer Leverkusen.