Just like they were during their maiden top-flight season in 2008/09, Hoffenheim are the division’s early pace-setters. After overcoming last year’s runners-up by a two-goal margin in this game, Ralf Rangnick’s team maintained Schalke’s point-free start.
Initially, Die Knappen tore up the form book by dominating the early stages – oozing confidence, urgency and energy, but unable to penetrate a clumsy, panic-infected Hoffenheim rearguard.
Through a combination of luck and the away side’s profligacy, Hoffenheim rode a storm that lasted for the opening quarter of the match, before finally making some vicious weather of their own.
They were aided by the fact Schalke’s defence was as clumsy as their own. Christoph Metzelder had a wretched evening, lacking stamina, fight, awareness and speed.
Magath deployed him as a right-back in a bid to curtail the constantly side-switching direct wing threats of Peniel Mlapa and Demba Ba, but neither found it particularly troubling to evade the former Real Madrid defender. Continue reading