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Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund throw three-goal lead

Borussia Dortmund were made to pay for their defense errors, and although it wasn't the first time that was the case this season it was an early wobble for a side hoping to claim the title come May. Lucien Favre will have watched from his sickbed in horror as his Dortmund side threw a three-goal lead in 20 second-half minutes to draw with Hoffenheim. Favre had a cold and couldn't be on the sidelines, but that didn't seem to be a problem for Dortmund in the first half. Jadon Sancho bamboozled Hoffenheim's defense to score a fantastic opener before Mario Götze tucked in a rebound from another effort from the English teenager to double Dortmund's lead. After a fruitless first half, Julian Nagelsmann made two key changes at the break and his side were inspired. At first though, that inspiration was denied by a handful of superb saves by Roman Bürki. When Raphael Guerreiro finished off another fine move by Sancho and Götze, it looked to be all over for the visitors. Then, Ishak Belfodil (one of the halftime subs) squeezed an effort past Bürki and Hoffenheim were in with a chance. When Achraf Hakimi failed to see Pavel Kaderabek sneak in for a header, suddenly that chance looked very real. With three minutes left, Sancho gave away a silly free kick and Belfodil's diving header made sure the comeback was complete. If Lucien Favre was looking for some respite, he probably didn't find any in Dortmund on Saturday afternoon. What might make matters worse for Dortmund is that Bayern can close the gap to five points with a win over Schalke later. FULL TIME! The corner comes to nothing and that is it. What a game! 90+3' Final minute. Free kick is cleared, but Dortmund have a corner... Last chance... 90+2' Sancho nearly gets into the box, but Posch makes a big tackle. Witsel keeps it alive and wins a free kick. Wolf is on for Guerreiro. 90' Belfodil fouls Sancho with a similarly needless foul. Free kick is swung in, Diallo gets to it but guides it past the far post. Close. Three minutes of added time. Surely this won't be Augsburg all over again? 87' GOAL! 3-3 Hoffenheim (Belfodil) Sancho gives away a needless free kick with a push. Geiger whips in the cross and Belfodil times his run and his diving header (don't see enough of those) perfectly. Goal! What a turnaround. Just 20 minutes ago, Dortmund were 3-0 up! Remarkable. 86' Dortmund have stirred from their 3-0 slumber and now look like scoring again. Just one goal in it - incredible! 83' GOAL! Hoffenheim (Kaderabek) There it is! Toprak has no chance to get into the game. A deep ball into the box is met by Kaderabek, who sneaks in behind the unaware Hakimi, to head it across goal into the far corner. Bürki no chance, Dortmund's defense asleep - game on! 82' That has changed things quite a bit. Hoffenheim pushing for a second and in all honestly, they look like they might. Dortmund get the call from Favre (we presume) and Götze is brought off for Toprak. Keen to sure things up at the back in the final 10 minutes or so. 76' GOAL! Hoffenheim (Belfodil) Moments after Bürki makes another great save to deny Kaderabek, he can't quite keep out Belfodil's effort at the back post and Hoffenheim have a goal. He was clawing at it and had a hold of it, but only behind the line and so there's the goal Hoffenheim deserve but probably needed 15 minutes ago. Bürki won't be happy about that. 70' It hasn't been easy for Maxi Philipp, and his face suggests as much when he comes off. Paco Alcacer comes on (Hoffenheim look away now). Reiss Nelson is on for Bittencourt, which means friends Nelson and Sancho are now playing against one another in the Bundesliga. Life eh? 67' GOAL! 3-0 Dortmund (Guerreiro) That is a sign of how confident this team is. Götze and Sancho combine superbly down the right, and after a flick through Posch's legs Götze gets to the byline and threads a perfect pass for Guerreiro to hit first time. He does and it's 3-0 and that is probably that. It could be a rout. 61' CHANCE! That's three chances and no goals for Hoffenheim now, who have clearly improved on their first-half performance. Belfodil turns and fires in the box but Bürki is there again with a smart save. It's only 2-0... 56' CHANCE! It is worth noting that Roman Bürki has been in the form of his life this season. Joelinton bursts through and smashes a bouncing ball towards the top corner, but Bürki saves superbly. Worth remembering, at the end of it all. 52' CHANCE! Nico Schulz drives a low shot towards the far corner but it nicks the post! It should have been a corner too as it clipped someone's heel along the way too. No corner, and no goal for Hoffenheim who just look out of luck - and not for the first time this season. 49' Hoffenheim start the second half the livelier of the two, but it's Dortmund who nearly score. Sancho (who else?) somehow finds his way into the box and tries to get the pass across but takes one little touch too many and Hoffenheim clear. 46' Dortmund gets us restarted. Nagelsmann makes two changes: Geiger has come on for Demirbay (sure up the midfield a bit), and Belfodil for Kramaric (change the attack). HALFTIME After a slow start, Dortmund grew into it but it's Jadon Sancho who is making the difference here. The teenager has scored one, assisted another and has shown so much quality in one-on-one situations it's almost not fair on the opposition. Game-changer - and all that at just 18. What fun he is to watch. Oh and he's now the youngest player in Bundesliga history to score eight goals. Talented eh? 43' GOAL! 2-0 Dortmund (Götze) A textbook counterattack. Hakimi pulls it down inside his own half perfectly, finds Witsel striding forward. He sends Sancho down the left (where there's lots of space). He cuts in and goes for the far corner, Baumann parries but only into the path of Götze who tucks it away. Lovely stuff, and Hoffenheim have no answer (who does to be fair?). 40' Sancho is having so much fun. Quick passing sends him down the right, he dances his way through and past defenders and just when it looks like he might lose the ball he finds space again. Already a very special talent. Pivotally, he passes at the right time too. Demirbay tackles him (gets booked for it later) but the corner comes to nothing. Dortmund dancing towards halftime. 36' Have Hoffenheim got a response? Joelinton heading over doesn't count, or at least isn't much of one. Bürki takes a few risks with his service though, and nearly invites the visitors back in but Dortmund deal with it. Not as much scrappy play as at the start, but some elements of such play lingers. 32' GOAL! 1-0 Dortmund (Sancho) Who needs Lucien when you have Jadon? Well, perhaps that's not all true but this goal from Jadon Sancho is very much about him. The teenager plays a tricky ball through traffic to Piszczek, he plays it straight back to him as he bursts into the box. His speed allows him to take a touch and then, just as it looks as though he's gone too wide, he drills a perfect shot into the far corner. Brilliant - and it all started from a throw in. Julian Nagelsmann is not happy. 31' Think it's time to give Lucien a call. Even through the sniffles and the sneezes, he must have a plan to decongest Dortmund. 28' Again, the game falls into a spell of back and forth. The game is drifting a bit, like the fourth and fifth songs on an album. Grillitsch gets booked for stopping Philipp from starting a counterattack. Dortmund can't use it, and the cycle continues. Patience is a virtue, remember. 22' CHANCE! There it is - a sign of life. Piszczek finds Philipp on the edge of the box, he whips an effort goalwards but it flies past the far post. If anyone could do with a goal in yellow and black... 20' This fixture has provided some real classics over the year. Remember that year Hoffenheim needed to win to stay up and scored two penalties against Kevin Großkreutz in Dortmund's goal? Those were the days. This one looked like it might be bubbling over, but now has returned to a simmer. The rain is back too. 15' Dortmund growing into this one now. A strong tackle by Piszczek keeps Dortmund on the edge of the box, Dahoud thinks about shooting but tees up Witsel instead. Sadly, his pass isn't perfect (too fast and ends up with the ball under Witsel's feet) which leaves Witsel firing over. 11' What a strange chance! Jadon Sancho plays a one-two, eventually the shot comes to Achraf Hakimi. It's blocked, but the rebound falls to Hakimi. He gets another effort in, which trickles towards Baumann. Götze, who is offside, doesn't touch it but sort of impedes Posch, whose clearance deflects off Sancho and in. Cue celebrations, but VAR comes a calling and Götze, despite his protests, was deemed to have been involved in the play. No goal. On we go. 9' Stop me if you've seen this one before. Dortmund are taking their time to get into this one, patiently waiting to strike. Hoffenheim have a couple of corners they waste. Chance coming? 5' All a bit sloppy so far. Both sides unable to keep the ball under control, and when they do the passing has been poor. Lots of exchange of possession. 1' Hoffenheim get us underway, just as the rain arrives to join the wind. - There's a minute's silence for Rudi Assauer, a Bundesliga legend who passed away on Wednesday. The silence turns into polite applause. - Before the game, Thomas Delaney was asked who Dortmund would miss the most today, Reus, Delaney or Favre? Probably Reus, the midfielder said with a smile. Hard to disagree. Can Dortmund win without him? - TEAMS! Nagelsman hopes to keep it tight in the middle and congest Dortmund's play, whereas Dortmund hope that Mahmoud Dahoud (replacing the suspended Delaney) and Maximilian Philipp (in for the injured Marco Reus) don't cause a drop. More surprisingly, Lucien Favre is ill (cold) and won't be on the sidelines today. He gave the pre-game talk in the hotel (but from a distance so as not to spread the germs) and will have communication with his assistants during the game. No Reus, no Favre, no problem? Dortmund XI: Bürki - Hakimi, Diallo, Weigl, Piszczek - Dahoud, Witsel - Guerreiro, Philipp, Sancho - Götze Hoffenheim XI: Baumann - Schulz, Hübner, Posch, Bicakcic - Kaderabek - Grillitsch - Bittencourt, Demirbay - Joelinton, Kramaric - Afternoon. Can Julian Nagelsmann get his team as dangerous as they were last season? They have conceded a number of sloppy goals this season, have thrown the most leads but also hit the woodwork the most. Some misfortune, but also some mistakes too. They are 8th at the moment, three points of Frankfurt (6th). The Champions League is all but gone (not for Nagelsmann though, if Leipzig make it)

Borussia Dortmund were made to pay for their defense errors, and although it wasn’t the first time that was the case this season it was an early wobble for a side hoping to claim the title come May. Lucien Favre will have watched from his sickbed in horror as his Dortmund side threw a three-goal lead in 20 second-half minutes ... Read More »

‘Enough is enough’ – Julian Nagelsmann annoyed by Bayern speculation

As Bayern Munich's search for a new head coach continues, one of the favorites for the role, Julian Nagelsmann, has declined to comment on press speculation. But doubts persist over the young coach's record in Europe. Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann reacted frustratedly on Sunday to questions from journalists asking him about the vacant Bayern Munich coaching position. The 30-year-old is the youngest coach in Bundesliga history and was crowned Coach of the Year last season after guiding Hoffenheim into Europe for the first time in the club's history. And following the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti following Bayern Munich's 3-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last week, Nagelsmann is one of the names linked with the job in Munich. "Every couple of days, I'm getting about 14 press enquiries," he said after his team's 2-3 defeat to Freiburg on Sunday. "Enough is enough." Asked by broadcaster Eurosport how he was dealing with the subject, he said: "I'm not dealing with it at all. There are so many experts having their say on the search for a new coach, they don't need to hear my opinion as well." Nagelsmann's contract in Sinsheim runs until 2021 and, according to news agency SID, Bayern are yet to make any contact with Hoffenheim. But sporting director Hansi Flick is resigned to seeing Nagelsmann leave eventually. "We've already said that we don't expect him to retire here," he said. "He's an exceptional coach and he's doing a great job of taking our team to the next level." Inexperience in Europe Nevertheless, Nagelsmann's reputation may have taken a knock in recent weeks, especially when it comes to his credentials on the international stage. After finishing fourth last season, Hoffenheim lost both legs of their Champions League qualifier against Liverpool (1-2 at home and 2-4 at Anfield) before starting their Europa League campaign with 1-2 defeats to both Braga and Ludogorets. In Nagelsmann's defense, Hoffenheim have already played 12 competitive games this season with a weakened squad after the departures of Niklas Süle and Sebastian Rudy to Bayern Munich and Jeremy Toljan to Borussia Dortmund in the summer. In Freiburg on Sunday, Sandro Wagner was forced to play on despite an injury after Nagelsmann used all three substitutes. In Munich, Bayern's players focusing on themselves rather than the identity of their next coach. "We have complete trust in the club," said Thomas Müller, "but we need to make sure that every single one of us performs better, regardless of the coach." Another candidate for the vacant post is Thomas Tuchel but Mats Hummels, who worked under Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund, refused to comment, saying only that "the most important thing is to find a good solution." Interim coach Willy Sagnol meanwhile appeared to rule himself out of a long-term appointment. "I was just supposed to take charge of the game in Berlin," he said. "We've not discussed anything else. That's up to the board."

As Bayern Munich’s search for a new head coach continues, one of the favorites for the role, Julian Nagelsmann, has declined to comment on press speculation. But doubts persist over the young coach’s record in Europe. Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann reacted frustratedly on Sunday to questions from journalists asking him about the vacant Bayern Munich coaching position. The 30-year-old is ... Read More »

Champions League: ‘A perfect time to write history’ – Hoffenheim confident of historic Anfield result against Liverpool

No German team has ever beaten Liverpool at Anfield. However, that is precisely what Hoffenheim will have to do if they are to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League for the first time. Liverpool came away from the first leg in Sinsheim last Tuesday with a 2-1 win thanks to a Trent Alexander-Arnold free kick and a Havard Nordtveit own-goal. Mark Uth's late strike gave Hoffenheim hope going into the second leg, but the German side will still have to score at least twice on Merseyside if they are to advance to the group stage of the Champions League for the first time in their short history. "We'll certainly put on a good show - I can promise you that," coach Julian Nagelsmann said. "The plan is to win 2-0. But we'd take a 3-0 win as well.” Jürgen Klopp's side are known for their aggressive pressing and attacking potency but the Reds' defense has been leaky of late, particularly from set pieces - a weakness Hoffenheim will be looking to exploit. "We're definitely capable of scoring two goals, that goes without question,” defender Kevin Vogt told Germany's mass-circulation newspaper "Bild." "We're going to throw everything at them. We know we can do it.” Nagelsmann's team certainly had their chances in the first leg. Andre Kramaric missed from the penalty spot, Sandro Wagner struck the outside of the post and Benjamin Hübner headed over the bar unmarked, but midfielder Kerem Demirbay looked at the positives. "We clearly play the better football," he said. "Whether that's enough to see us through in the end, we will see. We know we're not Liverpool but we can travel there with confidence." Anfield - not a happy hunting ground for German teams More illustrious names than Hoffenheim have come undone in Liverpool over the years, with the Reds having won 14 of 17 matches against German opposition at Anfield. 1860 Munich, Eintracht Frankfurt, Hamburg, Dynamo Dresden and Borussia Mönchengladbach have all suffered heavy defeats in England's northwest. Two years ago, Borussia Dortmund squandered a 4-2 aggregate lead in the final 30 minutes as Liverpool produced a stunning comeback to progress to the Europa League semifinal. So it would be a historic night if Hoffenheim were to reverse that trend and secure a money-spinning place in Europe's premier club competition. The financial difference between participation in the Champions League group stage and the Europa League is approximately 15 million euros ($17.6 million). "It's a perfect time to write history," Demirbay said.

No German team has ever beaten Liverpool at Anfield. However, that is precisely what Hoffenheim will have to do if they are to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League for the first time. Liverpool came away from the first leg in Sinsheim last Tuesday with a 2-1 win thanks to a Trent Alexander-Arnold free kick and a ... Read More »

Bundesliga: Bayern Munich agree deals for Hoffenheim pair Süle and Rudy

Bayern Munich have moved early to strengthen their squad for next season. The Bundesliga champions announced on Sunday that they've tied up July deals for Sebastian Rudy and Niklas Süle, both from Hoffenheim. The German international duo will join Bayern in July, with Süle in particular a statement of intent. The 21-year-old center back is considered one of Europe's brightest defensive prospects and had reportedly attracted the interest of Premier League leaders Chelsea among others. Süle has signed a five-year contract until 2022, for a fee believed to be in the region of 20 million euros, while Rudy inked a three-year deal and joins on a free transfer, with his Hoffenheim contract to expire in July. "We're very satisfied and delighted Niklas Süle and Sebastian Rudy are joining us," Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told the club homepage. "Signing two Germany internationals is an investment in Bayern's future. "Sebastian Rudy joins us on a free transfer. In the case of Niklas Süle we have reached a fair and serious agreement with Hoffenheim." The signings are sure to please club president Uli Hoeness, who called for more German voices in the dressing room earlier in the week. Versatile Rudy joined Hoffenheim, unbeaten in the Bundesliga this season, in 2010 having come through the youth system at Stuttgart and has played 12 times for Germany. "It's an absolute dream for me to go to Munich. Bayern are one of the greatest clubs in the world," he said. Süle came through the ranks at Hoffenheim and won his first cap for Germany last year. He didn't make the Euro 2016 squad but did win silver with the German Olympic squad. He's been one of Hoffenheim's best performers this year but said his focus won't stray. "In terms of it being a farewell I feel a little wistful too," Süle said. But he insisted both he and Rudy "were not having any thoughts on Bayern yet, rather concentrating solely on a successful second half of the season with Hoffenheim." The transfers are a blow for Hoffenheim head coach Julian Nagelsmann but not an unexpected one. "Of course I would have liked to keep Sebastian and Niklas, but we are in professional football and you often have to deal with these circumstances," he said. While Rudy is expected to be a fringe player for the champions, Süle will have to get past Germany and Bayern's first-choice center back pairing Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng to become a regular.

Bayern Munich have moved early to strengthen their squad for next season. The Bundesliga champions announced on Sunday that they’ve tied up July deals for Sebastian Rudy and Niklas Süle, both from Hoffenheim. The German international duo will join Bayern in July, with Süle in particular a statement of intent. The 21-year-old center back is considered one of Europe’s brightest ... Read More »

Bundesliga: Aubameyang humbles Hamburg, Bayern held again

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returned with a bang to destroy basement side Hamburg and ruin Uwe Seeler's birthday. Leaders Bayern drew 1-1 with Hoffenheim while Mario Gomez inspired Wolfsburg's win. Hamburg 2-5 Borussia Dortmund (Aubameyang 4', 23', 27', 48', Dembele 76' - Müller 55', 81') Aubameyang came back from an internal suspension to spectacular effect with four goals as rock bottom side Hamburg completely fell apart at home. Hamburg hero Uwe Seeler was celebrating his 80th birthday but Dortmund received an early present of their own with dreadful goalkeeping from Rene Adler allowing Aubameyang to tap in. Adler made a complete hash of saving Eme Mor’s scuffed effort, pushing the ball right into the Gabon striker’s path. It was a microcosm of Hamburg’s sorry season and was a quick response for Aubameyang after he was dropped for the Champions League win over Sporting in midweek, reportedly for flying to a party in Milan without permission. He was partying for the right reasons midway through the first half after more kamikaze Hamburg defending. Usual suspect Johan Djourou lost the ball to Mor as the last man and the Turkey winger ran in before squaring for arguably Aubameyang’s easiest ever goal. The striker then proved any rumored rift with Thomas Tuchel was over by running to embrace the coach on the sideline. Aubameyang's third before halftime was also simple. A kick up field was flicked on without any Hamburg pressure and Aubameyang did the rest, with Adler possibly at fault again. In contrast, the forward’s fourth was a special effort from the edge of the box as he rocketed to joint-top of the scoring chart with 11 goals alongside Cologne’s Anthony Modeste. Hamburg, who have only two points from 10 games, pulled one back through Nicolai Müller before Ousmane Dembele made it 5-1 and Müller scored only Hamburg's fourth goal this term. Dortmund are up to fifth while it was another terrible display from Markus Gisdol’s side with his appointment in September already coming under increasing scrutiny. Bayern Munich 1-1 Hoffenheim (Zuber o.g. 34' - Demirbay 16') Bayern’s patchy season continued with the league leaders’ third draw of the campaign against high-flying Hoffenheim, who remain unbeaten. The hosts were wearing one-off kits made out of waste plastic for the ocean and their early first-half play was also rubbish with Hoffenheim taking the lead through Kerem Demirbay’s thunderous effort right into the top corner. The champions only leveled thanks to Steven Zuber’s own goal, when he slid in and deflected Douglas Costa’s cross into the net. Mats Hummels hit the post and Thomas Müller missed a glorious chance for Bayern in stoppage time, but the away side had opportunities too. It was young Hoffenheim boss Julian Nagelsmann’s first game against Bayern and he proved himself once more with his surprise packages staying in third spot. Frankfurt 1-0 Cologne (Gacinovic 5´) Cologne lost ground on the top teams for the second time in three weeks after Mijat Gacinovic headed in early. Timothy Chandler's cross was deflected and Serbian Gacinovic nodded home before Timo Horn could get there. Cologne had half a shout for a penalty and top scorer Modeste headed wide before Yuya Osako failed to connect properly with a header when well positioned. The visitors pushed extremely hard in the second half but to no avail. Nico Kovac seems to have transformed Frankfurt into a hard-to-beat outfit and they remain seventh, now level on points with the sixth-placed Billy Goats. Freiburg 0-3 Wolfsburg (Gomez 41', 53', Rodriguez 86' pen.) Wolfsburg put their recent woes behind them and boosted interim coach Valerien Ismael with a comprehensive win in Freiburg. Freiburg goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow made a big save to deny Mario Gomez after 30 minutes, but the Germany striker eventually got on the scoresheet with a powerful header in the Freiburg rain. Maximilian Arnold almost made it 2-0 soon after but he blasted over. Gomez put his early season scoring problems behind him with a second following a very quick break after the ball got stuck on the wet pitch during a Freiburg attack. The home side’s Christian Günter then saw red for bringing down Daniel Didavi in the box and Ricardo Rodriguez converted the penalty. It was Freiburg’s first home defeat of the season. Leverkusen 3-2 Darmstadt (Calhanoglu 32', Brandt 56', Aranguiz 69' – Colak 47', Vrancic 85') Following the midweek Champions League win at Tottenham Hotspur, Leverkusen ended a good week on a high. Hakan Calhanoglu rifled in beautifully after a well-worked move, but the visitors came out undeterred in the second half and a delightful cross from Marcel Heller was turned in at the far post by Antonio-Mirko Colak. A superb header from Julian Brandt following a pinpoint ball from Julian Baumgartlinger gave the hosts the lead again, with Charles Aranguiz adding a third. Mario Vrancic scored late on for dogged Darmstadt but Leverkusen clung on to move up to seventh. Ingolstadt 0 -2 Augsburg (Bobadilla 85', Altintop 90') A dour encounter between two struggling sides was settled late on when the visitors burst into life. Raul Bobadilla scored a brilliant free kick and Halil Altintop added a second either side of Tobias Levels’ red card for second bottom Ingolstadt.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returned with a bang to destroy basement side Hamburg and ruin Uwe Seeler’s birthday. Leaders Bayern drew 1-1 with Hoffenheim while Mario Gomez inspired Wolfsburg’s win. Hamburg 2-5 Borussia Dortmund (Aubameyang 4′, 23′, 27′, 48′, Dembele 76′ – Müller 55′, 81′) Aubameyang came back from an internal suspension to spectacular effect with four goals as rock bottom side ... Read More »

Bundesliga: Hamburg hire Markus Gisdol to replace sacked Bruno Labbadia

Hamburg have wasted no time in appointing Markus Gisdol as successor to sacked head coach Bruno Labbadia. The former Hoffenheim boss was appointed less than 24 hours after Labbadia got the chop. Gisdol was in charge at Hoffenheim for about 18 months between 2013 and 2015 before he was replaced by Huub Stevens after a poor start to the 2015/16 campaign. The 47-year-old emerged as the frontrunner for the Hamburg gig on Sunday afternoon following Labbadia's dismissal and Hamburg confirmed he would be the new man in charge with a tweet on Sunday evening. Gisdol's appointment will be formally announced at a press conference on Monday. The German enjoyed great success in the 2013/14 season with Hoffenheim, a campaign in which his attacking style saw the club become the Bundesliga's entertainers, scoring 70 goals and conceding 72 in a single season - the highest combined total of scored and conceded goals by any team in Bundesliga history. He was also renowned for spotting young talent and was a leading figure in the development of several key players for the club under his tenure. Among those youngsters were Kevin Volland and Roberto Firmino who have both since left the club, as well as Hoffenheim's current captain and German international Sebastian Rudy. Gisdol has signed a contract until June 30, 2017 and he will take charge in time for Hamburg's trip to Hertha Berlin next Saturday. The club confirmed in an official statement that it was Gisdol's own wish to sign his contract only until until the end of this season.

Hamburg have wasted no time in appointing Markus Gisdol as successor to sacked head coach Bruno Labbadia. The former Hoffenheim boss was appointed less than 24 hours after Labbadia got the chop. Gisdol was in charge at Hoffenheim for about 18 months between 2013 and 2015 before he was replaced by Huub Stevens after a poor start to the 2015/16 ... Read More »

Bundesliga: Bayern stumble in title race against Gladbach, Dortmund rampant

With no games on Sunday, Matchday 32 in the Bundesliga was a full day of top-flight action in Germany. Bayern Munich have to wait just a little bit longer for their title, while Eintracht Frankfurt are still alive. Bayern Munich 1-1 Borussia Mönchengladbach (Müller 5' - Hahn 71') On a sunny afternoon in Munich, Bayern were strolling towards the win they needed to seal a record fourth consecutive Bundesliga title (their third under Pep Guardiola). That was until Andre Hahn postponed the home side's title party with a strong strike, adding to Gladbach's fine record against the Bavarians. Thomas Müller took his Bundesliga tally to 20 for the season, despite Serdar Tasci's best effort to claim the goal for himself as Bayern appeared to be strolling towards the title. But having been denied last weekend by Dortmund's win, Bayern undid themselves this weekend and are left with the unwanted distraction of having not won the title before Tuesday's Champions League second leg against Atletico Madrid. Borussia Dortmund 5-1 Wolfsburg (Kagawa 7', Ramos 9', Reus 60', Aubameyang 76', 77' - Schürrle 86') After Mats Hummels' announcement this week, there was no surprise to hear a mixed response from Dortmund's fans. Whatever the mood in the stands was though, Dortmund's players showed no signs of being distracted as they dismantled the side they lost to in last season's German Cup final. Henrikh Mkhitaryan's volley was so poorly hit that it assisted Shinji Kagawa for Dortmund's opener and a blink of an eye later, BVB were two goals to the good. A long ball by Sven Bender left Wolfsburg's defense floundering, and Kagawa's neat touch put in Adrian Ramos who smashed home with his newly-found confidence. Daniel Caligiuri hit the bar, but otherwise Wolfsburg's woeful Bundesliga form continued. Marco Reus tucked away a third in the second half, before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returned to action and scored two headers in the space of a minute. Dortmund not only sent a timely reminder of their quality, but also showed just how close their current group is. Hannover 1-3 Schalke (Sobiech 19' - Choupo-Moting 12', Huntelaar 44', Schöpf 80') Head coach Andre Breitenreiter said last weekend that losing to Leverkusen wasn't the end of the world, and three points against Hannover certainly proves that Schalke's European ambitions are still alive. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored a neat opener after a superb assist by Leon Goretzka, but Schalke wouldn't have been themselves without a wobble. Hannover's Iver Fossum started a swift counterattack that Artur Sobiech finished off and suddenly Schalke were dropping points against a side that had already been relegated. Thankfully, Leroy Sane decided otherwise and his great piece of skill and pass set up Klaas-Jan Huntelaar for an easy tap-in. Although Hannover hit the post, Schalke held on and added a third to stay within one point of fourth-placed Gladbach. Hoffenheim 2-1 Ingolstadt (Uth 37', Amiri 84' - Lex 16') Julian Nagelsmann's team loves playing at home, even in the face of a ferocious relegation battle. The home side's defense was left looking silly early on though, and Stefan Lex took advantage with a smart touch and finish into the far corner. Mark Uth's seventh of the season - a neatly curled finish - hauled the home side level before the break. Andrej Kramaric missed a chance from the spot to put Hoffenheim ahead - Örjan Nyland made a good save diving to his left - as the home side's chance appeared to have gone. Moritz Hartmann curled wide as the full-blooded affair, but with the result looking like a draw, Nadiem Amiri came off the bench to secure three points that put Hoffenheim four clear of relegation. Darmstadt 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt (Vrancic 12' - Hasebe 57', Aigner 83') If Frankfurt's win last weekend was ugly, this one was gritty. Some uncharacteristically gorgeous wing play for the home side was finished off in familiar fashion when Mario Vrancic bundled home Marcel Heller's low cross with his shin. Darmstadt appeared to be heading towards three points that would have all but kept them in the Bundesliga, but Sandro Wagner spoiled the party when he failed to convert his poorly-struck penalty. Frankfurt missed their chance to equalize when Haris Seferovic couldn't score at the back post, but Makoto Hasebe's deflected strike made up for it shortly before the hour mark. With the game heading into the final ten minutes, Stefan Aigner scrambled in at the back post to push Werder Bremen into a relegation spot and leave their opponents on the day just two points from safety. Mainz 0-0 Hamburg Both sides are stumbling towards the end of their respective seasons, although Hamburg might have won this one had it not been for Loris Karius' outstanding second-half save that denied Sven Schipplock.

With no games on Sunday, Matchday 32 in the Bundesliga was a full day of top-flight action in Germany. Bayern Munich have to wait just a little bit longer for their title, while Eintracht Frankfurt are still alive. Bayern Munich 1-1 Borussia Mönchengladbach (Müller 5′ – Hahn 71′) On a sunny afternoon in Munich, Bayern were strolling towards the win ... Read More »

Bundesliga: Lack of fire-power costing Hoffenheim

Creating chances is no problem for Hoffenheim, it's just putting those chances on the scoreboard that has left them second-bottom of the Bundesliga table. A relegation battle now looks certain in 2016. Schalke 1-0 Hoffenheim (Choupo-Moting 28‘) It was a game that was there for the taking. A game that, for a team now sure to be fighting relegation come the second half of the season, could make a difference come the end of the season. For Huub Stevens' Hoffenheim side, positives can be taken from this frustrating defeat, but one particular negative stands out from the rest. At this stage last season, Hoffenheim had amassed 29 goals and were sat comfortably in seventh place. Compared to the 17 goals they have collected this season, leaving them waning in seventeenth place. The season before last, the Sinsheim-club were the Bundesliga's entertainment package as they ended the season scoring 72 goals, but also conceding 70. Two years on, and the struggle to find a goalscorer has become a real issue. Hoffenheim have only managed to score more than one goal in a Bundesliga game three times this season, winning just one of those. Six games from the 17 played so far without scoring means they are the fourth lowest scorers in the Bundesliga, but not for the want of trying. Chances were created in mass at the Veltins Arena on Friday night, with the away side actually providing more shots on goal (18) than the home team (16), with Eduardo Vargas (4) having the most of any player in the game. None of the Chilean's efforts - which all came from inside Ralf Fährmann's box - were on target though, and with the club's top scorer - Kevin Volland - coming on from the bench early in the second half, the clear sign of a reliance on the German international is worrying to see. What will have frustrated the away side the most, though, is the way Schalke earned their win. A deep cross from Johannes Geis drifted towards Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting and Pavel Kaderabek battling at the back-post. The ball curled in-between the legs of the Hoffenheim right-back and bounced off the toe of Schalke's Cameroonian forward to beat Oliver Baumann. The sort of goal you only score when you're near the top of the table. The departures of Anthony Modeste and Roberto Firmino in the summer were not completely replaced. While Vargas, Jonathan Schmid and Kevin Kuranyi came in to bolster the attack, the goals of the exiting players (seven each for Modeste and Firmino) have yet to be replaced. Just nine players have scored for Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga this season, and only three of those have scored more than once. For Stevens, the opportunity to now take his team away and work hard on providing the best chance to survive in the second half of the season could prove vital. But even for the Bundesliga's notorious relegation expert, without another source of goals, the task may even be too much. As the saying goes, the hardest part of football is getting the ball in the back of the next: and don't Hoffenheim know it.

Creating chances is no problem for Hoffenheim, it’s just putting those chances on the scoreboard that has left them second-bottom of the Bundesliga table. A relegation battle now looks certain in 2016. Schalke 1-0 Hoffenheim (Choupo-Moting 28‘) It was a game that was there for the taking. A game that, for a team now sure to be fighting relegation come ... Read More »

Bundesliga: Malli inspires Mainz to win

Mainz secured their third win of the season as Yunus Malli became the third player in the club's history to score a hat trick in the Bundesliga. With one point from five, Hoffenheim still can't shake off their poor form. Mainz 3-1 Hoffenheim (Malli 18', 61', 69' - Schmid 13') Yunus Malli scored his first Bundesliga hat trick to inspire Mainz to a comfortable 3-1 win over Hoffenheim on Friday. The attacking midfielder made it five goals in five games this season as he helped his side come from behind to take all three points. Hoffenheim drew first blood after 13 minutes when former Freiburg winger Schmid broke the offside trap and finished beyond the reach of Loris Karius. Schmid had scored in his last two games against Mainz, but hadn't experienced a win. That barren run was set to continue for the French-born player as Malli cut inside on 18 minutes to equalize with a low shot. Volland pointed to Loris Karius' save on 24 minutes as the decisive turning point. The 22-year-old keeper, previously linked with clubs like Benfica, produced an excellent save when the German international forward weaved his way past Stefan Bell, his shot goal-bound before the intervention of Karius. The Mainz number one made another massive contribution for the home side three minutes before half time. Schmid was bearing down on goal once more, but decided to shoot from long-range and forcing the keeper into a good save. Malli-Mania But the second period began to open up in favor of Mainz. On 53 minutes, Yoshinori Muto was inches away from putting the hosts ahead, but his header cannoned against the crossbar. Seven minutes later, Malli executed a superb goal from the right-hand side of the pitch, cutting inside and bending the ball into the corner of the net. The 23-year-old attacking-midfielder has impressed in 2015 and has become a vital part of Schmidt's side. The intelligent Malli has become the nerve-center of this team, playing between the traditional No.10 position and center-forward. He put the icing on the cake eight minutes after his second goal, finishing from close range at the second attempt as Hoffenheim failed to clear Muto's cross. The visitors used Mark Uth and Kevin Kuranyi from the bench, but Mainz prevailed amid a late surge of pressure from Hoffenheim. "We are completely lacking self-confidence," Volland told reporters. Asked how to inject belief into his players, Gisdol emphasized the need for 'hard-work' in training with the next opportunity to end the winless run on Wednesday at home to Borussia Dortmund. With their fifth defeat in six games, Hoffenheim slips into the bottom-three, while the story couldn't be much different for Mainz - the Rhineland club are in third, although before the other 16 teams are in action this weekend.

Mainz secured their third win of the season as Yunus Malli became the third player in the club’s history to score a hat trick in the Bundesliga. With one point from five, Hoffenheim still can’t shake off their poor form. Mainz 3-1 Hoffenheim (Malli 18′, 61′, 69′ – Schmid 13′) Yunus Malli scored his first Bundesliga hat trick to inspire ... Read More »

Bundesliga: Bayern win late, Schalke and Wolfsburg denied

After Friday night's draw in the capital, more draws and more drama followed on Saturday's Bundesliga matchday two action. Bayern's fortune continued and Kevin de Bruyne played, but he probably shouldn't have. Hoffenheim 1-2 Bayern Munich (Volland 1' - Müller 41', Lewandowski 90+1') Despite Hoffenheim setting a new league record they couldn't break their own curse against the record-champions as Bayern turned the game around to seal a dramatic away win that was full of incident. After just 9.3 seconds, Kevin Volland seized on a misplaced pass from David Alaba to score with Hoffenheim's first touch of the ball and send the home fans into raptures. Markus Gisdol's men had never beaten Bayern in Bundesliga history, but their early goal stunned the defending champions. Bayern just couldn't get anywhere near Hoffenheim's goal and after half an hour, the decision to start Mario Götze ahead of Robert Lewandowski looked an odd one. Oliver Baumann was called into action, making a fine reflex save to keep out a glancing header from Thomas Müller. After a drinks break and a substitution (Rafinha came on for Mehdi Benatia), Bayern found an equalizer just before the half-time whistle. Douglas Costa went on an all-too familiar jinking run down the left wing and Baumann could only palm the cross into Müller's path, who sent the ball in off his knee. It was, as expected, a different game in the second 45 minutes. Mario Götze's mazy run wasn't finished off by Costa, but Bayern were coming closer. Thiago came on for Arjen Robben, who had been relatively quiet, and a neat passing play ended with Arturo Vidal curling onto the top of the crossbar. In a moment of drama, Hoffenheim missed the chance to restore their lead. Jerome Boateng's raised arm in a wall deflected a free kick, but the incident was spotted by referee Tobias Stieler who sent off Boateng (second yellow) and awarded Hoffenheim a penalty. Eugen Polanski's spot kick hit the post and squirmed under Manuel Neuer before it was cleared. In shock at missing their chance, Hoffenheim shuffled back and as is so often the case, they paid the price. After Müller had a goal disallowed for the use of his hand, Costa started another brilliant move out wide. His low cross evaded Mario Götze's attempt at a back heel, but substitute Lewandowski was on hand to guide the ball home to give Bayern their second consecutive win. Schalke 1-1 Darmstadt (Draxler 48' - Rausch 9') After an impressive opening day win against Bremen, Schalke were denied by a resilient Darmstadt. Former Hannover wingback Konstantin Rausch curled in from the left side of the area after Schalke failed to deal with a long ball forward from Darmstadt. Searching an immediate equalizer, Julian Draxler curled just over the bar. Ralf Fährmann had to make a superb close-range stop to deny Mario Vrancic from doubling Darmstadt's lead. Andre Breitenreiter's men launched a siege on the visitors' goal but couldn't find a breakthrough before the half. It only took three minutes into the second-half though, and Schalke were level. Franco di Santo sent in a low cross for Draxler, who timed his darting run perfectly to guide the ball into the bottom corner. The home side pushed on to find a winner. Johannes Geis hit the bar with a free kick, and then Roman Neustädter nearly flicked the ball in at the far post but in the end Darmstadt were not to be denied a brave point that may make a difference come the end of the season. Cologne 1-1 Wolfsburg (Zoller 30' - Bendtner 84') With all the focus on one man before kick off, Cologne's home game against Wolfsburg was a rather forgettable affair for the opening half an hour. Wolfsburg's Kevin de Bruyne was jeered after a poor showing and things got worse for The Wolves when the home side took the lead. A goal kick from Timo Horn was flicked on by Anthony Modeste and Simon Zoller reacted quickly to flick it over the advancing Koen Casteels and then, despite the attention of Naldo, head in to the empty net. In the second-half, Zoller had the chance to square the ball for 2-0, but he chose instead to go for goal only to be denied by Casteels. The stand-in goalkeeper denied Modeste as Dieter Hecking's side continued to look sluggish. Aaron Hunt tried his hand at playmaking duties, but Bas Dost couldn't beat Timo Horn with a deflected effort. The home side was left heartbroken though, when Horn spilled Daniel Caligiuri's shot from out wide allowing substitute Nicklas Bendtner to tap in a late equalizer. It could and should have been even more of a painful afternoon for Cologne, but De Bruyne fluffed a glorious chance to win the game. Matthias Lehmann's mistake let in the Belgian but he tried to do too much with his one-on-one chance and then his rebound was blocked by a defiant Lehmann. The points were shared, but both Wolfsburg and De Bruyne looked as though their minds were elsewhere. Leverkusen clever, Frankfurt sneak a point Augsburg's tough start to the new season continues after they saw defeat slip away late on against Frankfurt. Caiuby's toe-poked finish into the roof of the net gave the visitors a deserved lead in the first half and it appeared as though it would be enough. Marwin Hitz made a fine, diving save to deny Marco Russ and Haris Seferovic showed great control with his chest, but his hurried finish could only hit the side netting. Youngster Luca Waldschmidt saved the day though, setting up stand-in captain Russ to slot home an equalizer five minutes from time inside the box. In the only game of the day that didn't end with a share of two goals, Leverkusen comfortably beat Hannover by a solitary goal. Aiming to break the league's record for free-kick goals, Hakan Calhanoglu's stunning set-piece from 20 yards out gave the visitors a first-half lead. A weak Admir Mehmedi effort prevented Roger Schmidt's men from doubling their half-time lead. A minute into the second half and Calhanoglu had hit the corner of the goal frame with another superb free-kick, but there were to be no more goals, despite Leverkusen's best efforts.

After Friday night’s draw in the capital, more draws and more drama followed on Saturday’s Bundesliga matchday two action. Bayern’s fortune continued and Kevin de Bruyne played, but he probably shouldn’t have. Hoffenheim 1-2 Bayern Munich (Volland 1′ – Müller 41′, Lewandowski 90+1′) Despite Hoffenheim setting a new league record they couldn’t break their own curse against the record-champions as ... Read More »

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