Hamburg hauled themselves out of the relegation zone for the first time this season by winning their first home match in eight months. They beat former St Pauli hero Holger Stanislawski’s Hoffenheim side 2-0, although if the visitors had been a bit more clinical in front of goal, the outcome of this match – which saw two 4-4-2 systems cancel one another out for large spells – might have been quite different. However, Hamburg were good value for their win, and remain unbeaten under new coach Thorsten Fink.
It took a few minutes for both teams to settle, with the pressing hard and fast, and the midfield area congested. However, José Paolo Guerrero’s clever turn and powerful run drew a good save from Tom Starke in the second minute, and so began a spell which saw HSV on top. They bossed possession, and made it difficult for Hoffenheim to get out of their own half. Nevertheless, the visitors showed good off-ball discipline in the opening ten minutes – working in tandem so that when one player sprinted out with the man he was marking, a colleague would plug the gap. As a result, Hamburg, for all their control, could barely get out of the second-third area of the pitch.
The next time they did, it was another moment of magic from Guerrero. The Peruvian’s reverse through-pass fed the disguised dart of Dennis Aogo, but his cross was a bit too long for Marcus Berg to do anything with. Continue reading →
Friedhelm Funkel endured a miserable return to Eintracht Frankfurt as his Aachen side lost an incredible topsy-turvy game at the Commerzbank-Arena. The 57-year-old must take a big portion of the blame too, because, anachronistically, he decided to start the match in a 3-5-2 system: which, coupled with a Boy Waterman blunder, saw Aachen 2-0 down and totally outclassed in the first half. Despite changing to a 4-4-2 diamond shape after the break and netting three late goals (for which Funkel deserves some credit, even if his team were still too flat until the final 12 minutes), Aachen still managed to lose after Karim Matmour’s 89th minute header. The home side won’t play many easier first 77 minutes of football than they did here all season. However, their inability to put games to bed reared its ugly head again, and if they’re not careful, this failing could end up costing Frankfurt promotion. Nevertheless, today’s – deserved – three points lifts them to the top of the table on goal difference, and that, I guess, is all that matters.
The home side wasted no time in attempting to put this tie to bed, attacking their guests with urgency from the word ‘go’. With Aachen instantly sitting deep and compact, ultimately, Frankfurt were forced to play their football along the ground. And that they did – passing from side-to-side, before upping the pace and taking the ball forward through a chink. However, although Veh’s side did create one or two half-chances in the opening ten minutes, the visitors – who had star man David Odonkor on the bench – were like a synchronised swimming squad early on; keeping their positions with impressive discipline, the midfield and defence banks – switching between 3-5-2 and 5-3-2 effortlessly – moving in tandem to ensure that the corridors in the hosts’ final-third were as narrow as could be, and that any balls put into the box were simple enough for goalkeeper Boy Waterman to deal with. Continue reading →