Markus Babbel secures a vital win as Schalke are hassled by die Hoffe…
Hoffenheim’s season so far has been eventful to say the least. On the pitch, there’s been plenty of entertainment with the matches involving die Hoffe averaging just under four goals per game – the Bundesliga’s highest. That’s impressive when you consider they’ve even had a goalless draw against Augsburg, though that was one of the more sombre moments of the season.
It came just a day after Hoffenheim midfielder Boris Vukcevic was nearly killed in a car crash. Thankfully, he’s no longer in a critical condition and is now recovering out of hospital. Vukcevic’s team hadn’t won in his absence but they didn’t get off to the best of starts with him either, picking up six points in five games. Going into this weekend’s game against an in-form Schalke, Markus Babbel’s side were lurking just outside the relegation zone.
At the beginning of this season, Babbel was both the coach and the director of football. However, as results caved in, Andreas Müller arrived to allow him to focus on coaching the team. The pressure hasn’t relented. Babbel made fourteen signings in the summer and with results not picking up, rumours have circulated that he was close to losing his job. A win in the Bundesliga was imperative. Somehow it arrived on a weekend when Hoffenheim faced one of the division’s best teams.
In true Hoffenheim style, it was a most crazy victory, encapsulating the bizarre nature of their season. That comes in itself by having Tim Wiese in goal. The German goalkeeper is one of the Bundesliga’s more eccentric characters but he’s been a figure of ridicule this season after some of his performances. Wiese though was able to answer some of his critics on Saturday.
But for a goalkeeper to do this, he needs to be tested a fair amount. Schalke’s dominance at the Rhein-Neckar Arena provided this opportunity as Wiese made some crucial saves. Even so, Hoffenheim weren’t faultless defensively. Then again, what would you expect from the worst defence in the Bundesliga?Twice the home team went ahead. Twice they were pegged back by Schalke. In their previous home game against Fürth, they managed to do this “trick” three times. Saturday was to prove different.
With the game just about to enter stoppage time the seemingly luckless Babbel made one last roll of the dice by bringing on striker Sven Schipplock. Minutes later, he was celebrating an unlikely win. Schipplock combined with another substitute, Vincenzo Grifo, to send the ball past Lars Unnerstall and lifting Hoffenheim away from the relegation zone.
It might not be long until they’re back near it. After all, this was their first victory since September. Hoffenheim are having to work hard for their wins this season too. On the three occasions they have won in the Bundesliga, they’ve scored three. Already they’ve netted three in two other instances and not emerged victorious – there’s still plenty of work to do for Coach Markus Babbel.
He talked of Saturday providing another exciting game but what he could really do with is his side grinding out a few more results and gaining some consistency. Neutrals will be hoping otherwise as Hoffenheim are proving to be one of the Bundesliga’s most entertaining teams this season.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga
Matchday 10 Results:
Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 Fürth
Borussia Dortmund 0-0 Stuttgart
Gladbach 1-1 Freiburg
Hannover 2-0 Augsburg
Hoffenheim 3-2 Schalke
Nuremberg 1-0 Wolfsburg
Hamburg 0-3 Bayern Munich
Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 Düsseldorf
Werder Bremen 2-1 Mainz
|1||FC Bayern Munich||10||9||0||1||30:4||+26||27||CL*|
|2||FC Schalke 04||10||6||2||2||20:11||+9||20||CL*|
|4||Bayer 04 Leverkusen||10||5||3||2||18:14||+4||18||CL* Qual.|
|5||Borussia Dortmund||10||4||4||2||20:11||+9||16||EL* Qual.|
|6||Hannover 96||10||4||2||4||20:16||+4||14||EL* Qual.|
|7||SV Werder Bremen||10||4||2||4||17:15||+2||14|
|8||1. FSV Mainz 05||10||4||2||4||13:12||+1||14|
|14||1. FC Nuremberg||10||3||2||5||8:15||-7||11|
Table thanks to Official Bundesliga Website