Lanig and Ehret kept the width, while Jajalo and Clemens veered inside to make a three-pronged central attacking-midfield unit.
Round six of the Bundesliga began on Friday night with Hoffenheim travelling north to a ground where they’d never tasted defeat.
Both sides lost in the midweek round of fixtures, but Cologne had sealed a first victory of the season on home soil last weekend, and Hoffe had made a decent all-round start.
The first half began slowly with caution fully in charge of both sides’ operations. Eventually Hoffenheim began to test the waters, and the home side retreated; encouraging their guests to do something with the ball.
Several stabs at ‘something’ saw Cologne’s deep defence put under pressure by the last-shoulder lurking Vedad Ibišević, and goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón was forced into a series of clumsy hoofs upfield.
After realising scoops over the top weren’t going to grant the Bosnian room to reach and then use the ball, Hoffenheim decided to let the home side show their hand.
Cynical batches of Hoffenheim melina drew jeers from the partisan RheinEnergieStadion crowd, and Ralf Rangnick’s side only halted it via occasional surges down the right-hand flank. Continue reading →
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 →