Hoffenheim 1-3 Wolfsburg

The table before the round 34 fixtures kicked off simultaneously. Hoffenheim could finish the season no higher than seventh, but for Wolfsburg, staying in 15th place was the aim. A win would see them achieve that goal, regardless of what Borussia Mönchengladbach, away at Hamburg, and Eintracht Frankfurt, away at Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund, did.

A Mario Mandžukić-inspired Wolfsburg preserved their Bundesliga status after coming from behind to beat Hoffenheim on the last day of the 2010/11 season.

Unlike Hoffenheim, dozing in mid-table obscurity, Wolfsburg came into this game sitting just one place above the drop zone. St Pauli had already guaranteed themselves second division football next season, but the other automatic relegation spot was still up for grabs, along with the relegation play-off spot – a tie likely to be played against Bochum, who look favourites for third place in 2. Bundesliga. As the table on the left-hand side indicates, we had a three-team league towards the bottom going into the final day, with the team topping that table ensuring themselves first division football in 2011/12. Continue reading

Hoffenheim 1-0 Borussia Dortmund

The formations with half-hour played.

Hard-working Hoffenheim punished a surprisingly unimaginative Dortmund side to deny the league leaders what would have been a record-setting 12th away win of the season.

These two teams came into this game on largely differing runs of form. In-form Dortmund, top of the table by 12 points, having racked up 11 away wins in the league so far this season. Hoffenheim, on the other hand, had fallen from credible Champions League contenders to the mid-table positions they’ve made their home these last few seasons. They sat in ninth place haven taken just seven points from the last 18 available. Both sides had only failed to score on three occasions this season, so goals seemed certain. Definitely absent from the scoresheet by virtue of being absent from the teamsheet for Marco Pezzaiuoli’s hosts were Andreas Ibertsberger, Tobias Weis, Chinedu Obasi and Peniel Mlapa. For the visitors, Mats Hummels, Shinji Kagawa, Patrick Owomoyela, and Damien Le Tallec were all out. Continue reading

Hoffenheim 2-0 Schalke

The first half formations

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