After the international hiatus both Hoffenheim and Hamburg were hoping to build on their respective victories claimed before the break, Hoffenheim beat Schalke 04 whilst Hamburg pulled up a major upset gaining their first win of the season away to Dortmund. Hoffenheim were the last of the 4 undefeated sides to play this weekend knowing that a winning margin of 3 goals or more would send them into 2nd place and extend their unbeaten run to 8 games, already a club record.
Hamburg knew that a win for them would send them all the way up to 13th with there being only 5 points between 10th and 18th. They were still without injured goalkeeper Rene Adler, who was once again replaced by the experienced Jaroslav Drobný. Captain Rafael Van der Vaart did return and he replaced Marcell Jansen in the only change from the Dortund game. Hoffenheim were also struggling with defensive absences, as Ermin Bičakčić was only fit enough from the bench and left-back Kim Jin-Su had just returned from the Asian Games that he won with South Korea but suffered a thigh muscle tear that will keep him out for a month.
The first-half of Sunday’s contest was a very open affair with both sides repeatedly counter-attacking. Hoffenheim had the first real dangerous opportunity in the opening minutes with Anthony Modeste passing to Roberto Firmino who tried to play in Kevin Volland but Drobný came out and gathered the ball. Firmino has history in this fixture; last year Hoffenheim won 5-1 at the Imtech Arena with Firmino scoring twice and setting up the other 3 Hoffenheim goals. Hoffenheim then took the lead in the 14th minute when Valon Behrami was dispossessed allowing Pirmin Schwegler to gather and set Modeste away. The ball quite fortuitously found its way to the Frenchman as it came off his shins before landing just in front of him allowing the French striker to run clear and slot the ball home through the onrushing Drobný’s legs.
Hamburg actually had more possession early on but it was clear that Hoffenheim were the more dangerous side and had they not been so wasteful with their final ball they could’ve been 2 or 3 up in the first 30 minutes of the game. The Sinsheim side then had a chance to double their lead in the 20th minute from a Sebastian Rudy free kick that Niklas Süle headed towards goal at the back post. Drobný produced a quick reflex save and the ball went up in the air, falling to Firmino, who tried an overhead kick that went wide. It was around this time when Dennis Diekmeier was forced off with an injury that he sustained in the opening minutes of the game, replaced by Ashton Götz.
Despite dominating the opening 30 minutes Hoffenheim had Oliver Baumann to thank for keeping the score line at 1-0. In the 21st minute HSV broke quickly and Pierre-Michel Lasogga unleashed a rapid shot inside the box that was well blocked by Baumann’s feet. The rebound fell to Nicolai Müller but again his attempt was well saved by the former Germany U-21 goalkeeper.
Hamburg then got themselves back into the game about 10 minutes later with a goal from Lasogga that was very similar to Modeste’s opener. This time it was Firmino who was dispossessed in midfield and Tolgay Arslan put through Lasogga who finished emphatically to fire up the home crowd frustrated at their side’s lack of attacking prowess.
Lasogga then had another decent chance to put his side 2-1 up only 3 minutes later but he completely missed the ball after Matthias Ostrzolek did well to get down the line and pull the ball back for Germany striker. Josef Zinnbauer’s side controlled the rest of the half with their best chance falling to Heiko Westermann from a corner. Van der Vaart sent in a beautiful cross and it was met by the big centre-back who headed just wide. Hoffenheim did however have a very good chance right at the death when Kevin Volland passed through to Tarik Elyounoussi inside the box but Drobný quicly closed down the angle and saved well from the Norwegian who has been on fire at the start of this season, scoring 4 goals in his opening 7 games.
Hamburg came out fighting at the start of the 2nd half with Lassoga having a shot within 20 seconds that was deflected for a corner that eventually came to nothing. Van der Vaart then had a chance of his own from a free kick that was in a perfect position for his free kick style but he sent it over rather annoyingly for the HSV fans. Firmino then showed why he is being chased by so many big clubs around Europe when in the 54th minute he appeared to be in no position to shoot but still got away a brilliant effort that rattled off the post — had it been on target Drobný would’ve stood no chance.
Baumann once again rescued Hoffenheim in the 63rd minute when he saved yet another effort from Lasogga and just managed to push away the loose ball from under Müller’s feet. After his first half goal Lasogga was the most dangerous player on either side and he nearly put Die Rothosen in front when his free kick skimmed the outside of the post, with some fans initially thinking he had scored.
In the face of HSV’s 2nd half dominance Hoffenheim did manage to pull together some decent opportunities for themselves, Volland should’ve done better with his attemot in the 68th minute after some decent build-up play between the Germany U-21 captain and Firmino as well as substitute Ádam Szalai. Another of Markus Gisdol’s substitutes, Sven Schipplock, was involved in the next chance when his cross was pushed by Drobný into the 6-yard box but before Volland could tap it in Behrami managed to clear.
Lasogga was not to be outshone however as he came back to the fore in the 78th minute when after a quick HSV counter his fearsome shot smacked the crossbar and bounced away to the relief of Baumann. Hoffenheim did have the final outstanding chance of the game when Elyounoussi drove inside of the left wing and his curled effort from just outside the penalty area was just over. HSV won the statistical battle, having the edge in possession, shots, CKs and crosses. Up next for the red-shorts is next Saturday’s game in Berlin against a struggling Hertha side, while Hoffenheim will host surprising SC Paderborn Saturday.
Hamburger SV: Drobný – Djourou, Westermann, Diekmeier (30’ Götz), Ostrzolek – Van der Vaart (66’ Jansen), Behrami, Müller, Holtby, Arslan (80’ Stieber) – Lasogga
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim: Baumann – Rudy, Strobl, Süle, Beck – Polanski, Schwegler, Volland (91’ Zuber), Firmino (72’ Schipplock), Elyounoussi – Modeste (53’ Szalai)
Header photo courtesy of motorvision.de
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