Admittedly, this wasn’t the most eye-catching fixture of round 28 given that it pitted the team in 9th against the team in 7th. Neither of these sides will be relegated, and only Hamburg have a slender hope of reaching the Europa League. Nevertheless, they’ve both been good sources of news on and off the pitch in 2011 – Hamburg have been beaten by six and won by six in recent weeks, Hoffenheim have been hammered by Bayern but beat Dortmund, and neither side has stuck with the manager they started the season with. If tiredness was to play its part in proceedings, it was always going to affect Hamburg more, who saw 12 of their players called up for service in the recent international break. Yet although Hoffe’s training ground *only* saw ten players absent, it still managed to play host to a scrap between midfielder Sejad Salihović and defender Marvin Compper. Nevertheless, the only notable absentees at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena were José Paolo Guerrero, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Salihović, who all failed to make the pitch or bench. Continue reading
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Hoffenheim 1-0 Borussia Dortmund
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