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

  • There was increased attention on Bayern Munich this weekend – what would happen after their first league defeat of the season? Well, a win of course. They beat Hamburg 3-0 as their challengers slipped up.
  • With Schalke beaten in Hoffenheim, Borussia Dortmund failed to close the gap on either Bayern or their rivals. The Champions were held at home by an ever improving Stuttgart. Armin Veh’s Eintracht Frankfurt had to settle for a point too against a fellow promoted side, with Greuther Fürth drawing at the Commerzbank Arena. No need though to get the Veh-olin’s out just yet…
  • For some, it was a case of getting back on track this weekend. Nuremberg won for the first time in six games beating Wolfsburg in Franconia. Hannover on the other hand recovered from their first home defeat in over a year by defeating Augsburg. For Borussia Mönchengladbach though, it was disappointment after last weekend’s heroics in Hannover. The Foals slipped to a 1-1 draw against a Freiburg side progressing well under Christian Streich.
  • And finally, Sunday proved to be another entertaining day in the Bundesliga. Leverkusen and Düsseldorf played out a five goal thriller with Bayer coming out on top. Werder were the day’s other winners despite Mainz’s Adam Szalai becoming the joint top goal scorer in the division.
For more on the Bundesliga, follow @archiert1 on Twitter

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

Table

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* Pts.*
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*
3 Eintracht Frankfurt 10 6 2 2 21:14 +7 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
9 Hamburger SV 10 4 1 5 11:14 -3 13
10 VfB Stuttgart 10 3 4 3 10:15 -5 13
11 Borussia Mönchengladbach 10 3 4 3 13:19 -6 13
12 SC Freiburg 10 3 3 4 14:13 +1 12
13 1899 Hoffenheim 10 3 2 5 16:22 -6 11
14 1. FC Nuremberg 10 3 2 5 8:15 -7 11
15 Fortuna Düsseldorf 10 2 4 4 9:15 -6 10
16 VfL Wolfsburg 10 2 2 6 6:17 -11 8 Play-offs
17 Greuther Fürth 10 1 4 5 7:16 -9 7 Relegation
18 FC Augsburg 10 1 3 6 5:15 -10 6 Relegation

Table thanks to Official Bundesliga Website

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