By Peter Vice @ViceytheSS
In an eventful and entertaining set of Bundesliga 15:30 kickoffs, Leipzig and Wolfsburg were able to make strong statements with wins of their own. Leipzig move into the top-four after downing Frankfurt. Wolfsburg move into the conference league playoff place after shutting out Köln.
Hertha BSC also snatched three critical points in the relegation fight with a 2-0 home win over Augsburg while SV Werder Bremen got back on track with a 3-0 victory over visiting VfL Bochum
|Julian Brandt.||Photo: Steffen Prößdorf, CC BY-SA 4.0|
For the first time in the history of their club, Borussia Dortmund have opened up a new calendar year with nine consecutive victories. Edin Terzic’s BVB emerged victorious from their trip to Sinsheim, pulling out a narrow 1-0 victory over Pellegrino Matarazzo’s TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. The result puts die Schwarzgelben – who began the year in sixth place – atop the Bundesliga table at the latest point in the season since the 2018/19 campaign. Another loss for Hoffenehiem means the Kraichgauer will spend the week amid the relegation pack.
BVB trainer Terzic made a whopping five changes to the XI that defeated Hertha in convincing fashion last Sunday. Two such switches were sadly enforced. Streaking German winger Karim Adeyemi remained out injured. Young Englishman Jamie Bynoe-Gittens started in Adeyemi’s place. Raphaël Guerreiro also had to take the place of Julian Ryerson. Three non-enforced rotations saw Jude Bellingham, Niklas Süle, and Sebastien Haller take the places of Salih Özcan, Mats Hummels, and Donyell Malen.
.In his third match in charge of the relegation-threatened Kraichgauer, TSG trainer Matarazzo had one enforced change to make. Midfielder Thomas Delaney had to sit out ill. Long-time club player Sebastian Rudy deputized for the Dane. In comparison to last week’s lineup against FC Augsburg, Kevin Akpoguma and Andrej Kramaric took the place of Kasper Dolberg and John Anthony Brooks. Matarazzo tried out his third novel constellation as the team’s gaffer; a 3-3-2-2.
Given the incoming form of the two sides, the game didn’t exactly shake out as expected. While Dortmund enjoyed the better share of the early chances, the Rhine-Neckar hosts were also able to put the BVB under pressure with some quality forward play and penetration. Hoffenheim even came close to scoring off a corner just after the quarter-of-an-hour mark. The TSG undeniably demonstrated bravery moving forward and were able to create some innovative spaces for themselves.
Matarazzo’s match plan nevertheless took a dent after the half-hour-mark when defender Ozan Kabak had to be subbed off injured after hurting an ankle on a late clear-challenge for which he was booked. Dortmund pounded the TSG back-three – looking unstable with replacement Ermin Bickacic – thereafter. Julian Brandt finally opened the scoring after the BVB were able to put together a dominant phase. The still red-hot German international flicked in a ball off his back off a free-kick that Marco Reus did well to control in the 43rd.
With Dortmund taking a fully deserved lead into the second half, the overall flow of the match in the second 45 was interrupted by two prolonged VAR interruptions. Match official Martin Petersen took his time reviewing a potential penalty scene involving Emré Can and Kevin Akpoguma in the Hoffenheim area in the 50th. Petersen ultimately decided that Can’s heel-tackle wasn’t deliberate and, therefore, not deserving of a spot kick. Play had barely gotten going before another lengthy VAR review canceled out a 56th-minute Marius Wolf goal because of a foul in the lead-up.
Matters understandably took some time to settle down after the breaks in the action. When open-play once again reigned, Guerreiro forced Hoffenheim keeper Oliver Baumann into a decent save in the 65th. Bellingham flashed over less than a minute later. The hosts also woke up, earning corners off the BVB ranks after quality charges in the 67th and 70th. The game remained open right up until the very end. Baumann had to intervene at several key moments to stop Dortmund from extending the lead. Hoffenheim pushed for the equalizer admirably, but didn’t come as close to scoring.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga’s 15:30 kickoffs, SV Werder Bremen were able to shake themselves out of a poor form-run and a very listless performance against Frankfurt last week with a commanding 3-0 home win over VfL Bochum. The Hanseatic striking partnership of Niclas Füllkrug and Marvin Ducksch were both able to score, as was supporting attacker Niklas Schmidt.
Frankfurt themselves fought back valiantly away at Leipzig after falling behind 0-2 to their Saxon hosts at the half. A pullback goal from Djibril Sow nevertheless wasn’t enough to gain any points from the affair. Oliver Glasner’s German Eagles fell to Marco Rose’s German Red Bulls 1-2. Leipzig pull into the top-four with the win while Eintracht are stuck in sixth-place for the weekend.
Over at the RheinEnergie Stadion in Köln, VfL Wolfsburg were able to snap a five-match winless-run with a 2-0 defeat of Steffen Baumgart’s Geißböcke. Yannick Gerhardt and VfL skipper Maximilian Arnold contributed goals for the guests. Hosts Köln have now failed to score a goal in in four of their seven 2023 fixtures.
At the Olympiastadion in the country’s capital, Sandro Schwarz’s Hertha BSC were able to take out visiting Augsburg; also by a 2-0 scoreline. Marco Richter and Dodi Lukebakio netted second-half goals for the Charlottenburg Berliners in a match played under heavy snowfall.
The crucial three points sees Hertha climb out of the relegation places, though VfB Stuttgart still have a chance to put them back there this evening.