A game full of wasteful passing and poor decision-making saw Friday night’s battle at Coface Arena end in a disappointing goalless draw. The Bundesliga’s leading goal-scorer, Shinki Okazaki missed the match with a thigh injury, but the lack of precision in the offensive end makes it difficult to envision how much his presence would have altered the result.
Each side managed just three shots on target. For Mainz, their three on-target made up half of their total attempts. Hoffenheim was slightly fiestier, if a bit sloppier, with 11 attempts total. In truth, though, even the on-target shots lacked threat.
Anthony Modeste had a couple of chances in the first half when he broke clear of the defense, but the shots that concluded the runs were weak and easily collected by Loris Karius.
Filip Djuricic too had an opportunity when, in the 35th minute, a Mainz counterattack found him with the ball on the edge of the box in a one-on-one showdown with Oliver Baumann a bit astray of his line. The Serbian national tried to chip the Hoffenheim keeper, but Baumann managed to turn it wide.
Referee Felix Zwayer frustrated both sets of fans and players with his decisions, perhaps contributing to the evening’s stagnation. In total, he gave 38 fouls: 25 against Hoffenheim and 13 against Mainz. Some of his decisions, notably a Stefan Bell challenge on Baumann, seemed to hinder the forward flow of the attack. The ball arrived in the box from a set-piece, and Bell was about to head it when Baumann came out for a challenge. While punching the ball away, Baumann completely clattered into Bell, leaving the center back lying on the turf for some time while Hoffenheim was awarded the decision and free kick.
Volland and Elyounoussi struggle
Despite the fact that Kevin Volland is coming back from an injury and Tarik Elyounoussi has scored 3 goals in 6 games, neither showed their full value Friday night.
Cast your mind back to the 2013 winter break, when Volland had scored seven goals in the hinrunde, was being declared as one of Germany’s brightest talents, and was linked with a move to Dortmund. The young forward had even caught the eye of Germany’s national team coach Jogi Löw, and it seemed Volland was on the verge of stardom. Though he managed four goals in the Rückrunde, Volland was not the same player after Christmas, becoming somewhat one-dimensional in his contributions, nearly always taking the ball and running down the line on his right side before cutting back to the inside to get the ball on his favoured left foot before shooting or passing. As defenders appeared to be figuring him out, Volland has not seemed to add to his repertoire.
Friday night was no different He repeatedly tried out that move tonight and every single time he was tackled by a defender and the momentum of the attack was lost.
Numbers-wise, Elyounoussi has had a decent start to the season, getting his first three Bundesliga goals in the first four matches of this season. Yet, there is evidence he could be doing more. His passing accuracy against Hoffenheim was extremely poor, especially considering several wasted crosses. When compared to Mainz winger Jonas Hofmann and see a passing accuracy of 57% compared to Hofmann’s 81%, despite Hofmann having had 23 more touches, you get a sense of why Hoffenheim’s offense, so free-flowing last season, struggles to produce in stretches.
Mainz next travel to Borussia Mönchengladbach, where they lost 3-1 last season. Hoffenheim will return to Sinsheim to host Schalke 04, who will be coming off the emotional rollercoaster that is this weekend’s ‘Revierderby’ against supreme rival Dortmund and a mid-week Champion’s League fixture with Maribor.
Mainz 05: Karius – Bungert, Díaz, Brosinski, Bell – Baumgartlinger, Moritz, Geis, Hofmann, Allagui – Đuričić
1899 Hoffenheim: Baumann – Beck, Süle, Strobl, Rudy – Polanski, Schwegler, Firmino, Elyounoussi, Volland – Modeste
Substitutions: 61. Jairo for Đuričić, 67. Szalai for Modeste, 73. Zuber for Volland, 85. Jara for Geis, 89. Schipplock for Firmino
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