In Saturday’s MatchDay 8 fixture at the BayArena, a controversial red card for former Hoffenheim favourite Kevin Volland after six minutes was then followed by a demolishing of Leverkusen, who simply failed to cope with being a man down. Hoffenheim executed their extra man advantage exquisitely and went on to put three goals past their wearisome hosts.
Kevin Volland would have wanted to have proven to his former employers that he was worthy of leaving them behind for a so-called ‘bigger club’. Yet his sending off after six minutes, for albeit a debatable last man foul, not only ruined his day, but his team’s too. Up until that game changing moment, the home side had looked assured in possession and dangerous going forward. In fact the opening five minutes was end to end stuff, with Bayer certainly looking like there were a couple of goals in them.
But it was their attacking start that led to Volland’s dismissal. A corner for the home team that was followed quickly by a Hoffenheim counter attack that preceeded a last-ditch attempt to poach the ball from Kerem Demirbay, who was through on goal. After a lot of bickering and disputing among the Leverkusen players and referee, the red card finally made its unwelcome ascent from Bastian Dankert’s pocket and that was the end of Volland’s game. The subsequent free kick taken by Demirbay travelled through a gap in the wall before bouncing onto the outside of Bernd Leno’s left-hand side post.
It didn’t take long for the guests to exploit their one man advantage, though. Fifteen minutes in and the man who found himself taken down as he went through on goal in the sixth minute, found himself with room on the left side of the penalty area. After the 23 year-old considered a shot with his left foot he brought the ball onto his right foot and unleashing a classy finish into the right top corner. Demirbay, in his first season with the village team, played last with Fortuna Düsseldorf and played youth football for both Schalke AND BvB, as well as SG Wattenschied, before getting his Bundesliga baptism with HSV.
Leverkusen’s quick and dangerous looking tempo that they had illustrated in those opening five minutes had disintegrated and they became slow and unable to cause their opposition’s defence any problems. Julian Brandt came the closest for the home side — a clever one-two with Charles Aránguiz put Brandt in a decent position on the left side of the penalty area, but his right footed shot fired wide.
The halftime whistle was greeted by boisterous boos from the Leverkusen fans directed at the match official who grew more and more unpopular after the dismissal. Fans unhappy with a major refereeing decision? Surely not!
The hosts’ second half didn’t improve,and in fact it became worse as the next forty-five minutes unfolded. Just four minutes into the second half and Hoffenheim had doubled their advantage. Sandro Wagner, who impressed us all in the Bundesliga with his meritorious eye for goal at Darmstadt last season, struck a powerful left footed finish past Leno at his near post, assisted by Andrej Kramarić from the left wing. Wagner had assisted on Derimbay’s first half goal.
More goals was not to be the only drama of the second half. Leverkusen head coach, Roger Schmidt was sent to the stands after an altercation with Julian Nagelsmann, the youthful Hoffenheim boss. Schmidt reportedly saying to Nagelsmann ‘What’s your problem you a***hole! There was nothing in it! Back to your seat and shut the **** up’. Don’t judge him too harshly though, you should see how lovely he is when he’s not abusing opposing teams’ managers.
Well if you thought their day couldn’t get any worse, think again. In the 60th minute Leno’s interception of Wagner’s cross had forced the goalkeeper to come off his line and into no man’s land. Steven Zuber pounced on the opportunity and slotted into an empty net from outside the area in his first game of the new season. Even with the introductions of fan favourites, Chicharito and Stefan Kießling, Leverkusen’s performance didn’t improve.
Despite the scoreline, the Leverkusen Nordkurve continued to chant and wave their flags which can only be admired considering they are renowned as a ‘plastic club’ here in Germany, due to their financial backing from pharmaceutical company, ‘Bayer’. Hence the name, ‘Bayer Leverkusen’. The support did little to fuel the players however, and it was merely a case of sticking by your team that kept the home fans singing.
The remaining minutes of the game passed by with no drama. The small pocket of away supporters bounced up and down, and sang loud, well, as loudly as you can with just 200 people. Hoffenheim aren’t exactly a popular club in Germany. The full time whistle sounded and boos once again greeted the referee, who in reality, didn’t have a bad game. But it was the sending off after just six minutes which caused the game to change. One can only wonder what scoreline would be typed up on the scoreboard had the game been 11 v 11 for ninety minutes.
Take nothing away from the visitors though. It’s not always as easy as you’d think to play against ten men. Hoffenheim demonstrated how it’s done. It’s now four wins on the bounce for Julian Nagelsmann’s side and they’re up to an impressive third place behind Hertha and of course FC Bayern as the village side continues its unbeaten ways. Leverkusen can only hope they get themselves back on track next week when they visit a disastrously out of form Wolfsburg side.
Before the Wolfsburg match, Leverkusen feature in the DFB Pokal Tuesday away to Sportfruende Lotte, a 3. Liga side that is tied for third in the standings with a 6-3-3 record. In Round One of the Pokal, Lotte knocked out Werder Bremen, so Schmidt and his team will have to get it together quickly. (The match will be streamed on ESPN3 at 12:25pm EDT and televised on ESPN Deportes). Hoffenheim play away Wednesday to the Billy Goats of 1.FC Köln.
Bayer 04:Leno – Bender (Wendell 46’), Tah, Toprak (Chicharito 56’), Henrichs – Baumgartlinger, Aránguiz – Brandt, Kampl – Volland, Mehmedi (Kießling 57’).
TSG Hoffenheim:Baumann – Süle, Vogt, Hübner – Kaderabek, Zuber – Rudy (Polanski 58’) – Demirbay (Vargas 78’), Amiri – Wagner, Kramaric (Szalai 65’).
Header photo courtesy of Bayer 04 Leverkusen Facebook page
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