By Peter Vice @ViceytheSS
VfL Bochum and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim were able to move clear of the relegation pack with massive victories. FC Schalke 04 fought back against a shorthanded FC Augsburg and avoided landing in last-place with a 1-1 draw. Bruno Labbadia’s VfB Stuttgart are now at the bottom of the Bundesliga table after falling 0-1 to Wolfsburg.
|Thomas Letsch.||Photo: Werner100359, CC BY-SA 4.0|
Thomas Letsch’s VfL Bochum – after emerging victorious against Köln last week – have put together a two-game winning streak with the claim of a major scalp Saturday afternoon at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion. Marco Rose’s heavily-favored RB Leipzig rolled into town and were defeated 1-0 in a intensely close match that finished with an exciting flourish.
RB trainer Rose shook things up after the bitter disappointment in the Champions’ League midweek. Fullbacks Benjamin Henrichs and David Raum were swapped out in favor of Mohammed Simakan and Marcel Halstenberg. Youssef Poulsen and André Silva were also preferred to Emil Forsberg and Amadou Haidara. The RB gaffer’s personnel changes meant that the German Red Bulls returned to their semi-regular 4-2-2-2 system.
VfL trainer Letsch saw no reason to tinker personnel-wise with the XI that snapped a four-game losing streak last Friday night against Köln. The Revierklub did nevertheless line-up in a slightly different formation distinct from the previous 4-2-3-1. Bochum sought to beat Leipzig for the first time in eight total competitive meetings.
The Westphalian hosts managed to make some dangerous incursions in on the right in the opening stages. Within about ten minutes, however, the heavily-favored Saxons were able to establish their game. Leipzig enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, albeit without generating too many noteworthy chances until Timo Werner flashed over in the 22nd.
Werner very nearly forced VfL left-back Danilo Soares into an own-goal with a quality cross after a sparkling individual run some four minutes later. Werner then narrowly missed a link-up with Silva as the half-hour-mark approached. The guests continued to dominate proceedings for the duration of the half. The absence of anything other than half chances nevertheless meant that the match went into the break with a 0-0 scoreline.
Three minutes after the restart, the hosting 1848ers were able to take a shock lead. An excellent long throw-in from Christopher Antwi-Adjei in the 48th was extended well by VfL striker Philipp Hofmann. Takuma Aston then chipped over to the in-crashing Erhan Masovic. One of last week’s standout performers, and goal-scorers, headed home for his second goal in as many matches.
Mastic’s electrifying 1-0 took a significant amount of wind out of the RB sails. It took nearly a quarter-of-an hour for Rose’s team to shake off the shock and find a basic strategy for heading forward. Silva and Dominik Szoboszlai attempted a few combos up the right, yet were repeatedly stymied by the resolute Bochum back ranks.
Cheered on by their hometown fans, Bochum effectively shut down their powerful guests. Matters didn’t really get exciting again until injury time. Manuel Riemann had to make a fantastic double save on RB substitute Dani Olmo at 90+1. Riemann then saved third and fourth follow-up efforts seconds later. Szoboszlai had everyone, including Riemann, beaten at 90+2, but was only able to strike the post.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga’s 15:30 kickoffs, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim were able to pull out their first victory under the regime of under-fire head-coach Pellegrino Matarazzo. The American trainer surprised many by giving disaffected Croatian striker Andrej Kramaric the start after all. The move worked perfectly. Kramaric converted twice from the penalty spot in the opening 45 to give the Sinsheimers a 2-0 half-time lead. Ihlas Bebou netted the decisive 3-0 just after the restart. Reduced to ten men, the TSG did concede a late goal in the 3-1 victory.
Hoffenheim’s win over relegation rivals Hertha means that the TSG have pulled themselves off of the bottom and even out of the relegation zone in this year’s historically tight competition at the foot of the table. Matarazzo’s Kraichgauer move one point clear of the relegation-playoff place, now occupied by the defeated Berliners. Bochum themselves are now four points above the playoff place (16th) after their big win.
Former Bochum trainer Thomas Reis’ FC Schalke 04 were narrowly able to avoid sliding back in last-place with a 1-1 comeback draw against Augsburg. Schalke, incredibly, remain undefeated in the 2022/23 Rück-Runde. Last-place currently belongs to VfB Stuttgart courtesy of a 0-1 loss at home to visiting Wolfsburg. To add insult to injury, Omar Marmoush scored what would prove the winning goal against his former side.