Pimped-out sleds, from which the bass booms, are nothing unusual on the streets of the Ruhr area. But when the beats bang out of the TSG Hoffenheim team bus during the final approach to the Ruhr Stadium, people look surprised. The team with the longest win in the Bundesliga rolled to the Bochum stadium on Saturday with an acoustic drive. But the catchy bass from the bus didn’t last as a catchy tune for the footballers. They were soon replaced by a popular tune by the composer Jacques Offenbach.
They play his swinging can-can at VfL Bochum after each of their own goals, five times on Saturday. Bochum beat Hoffenheim 5-2 (3-0) off the pitch. For the Kraichgauer it was the second major league defeat in a row after last week’s 1:4 against Borussia Mönchengladbach. The Can-Can is a song from Offenbach’s operetta “Orpheus in the Underworld”. The title suits the Hoffenheim team without a win for nine league games with their trainer André Breitenreiter – only within four and a half months they ended up in the table Hades.
The fact that Breitenreiter would lose his job at short notice was not clear from the statements made by sports director Alexander Rosen at Sky shortly after the game. Looking at a pretty good start to the season, Rosen said: “It’s not a question of whether the coach can do his job, he can!” But the fact that TSG had already experienced such a radical crash under coach Sebastian Hoeneß in the previous season made Rosen thoughtful. “Maybe we should raise all the critical questions in a bigger way,” he said, suggesting that there could be weaknesses in the TSG system that are detrimental to lasting success. He didn’t give any details.
Breitenreiter is frustrated, at a loss, loaded after the defeat in Bochum
Purely by coincidence, Hoffenheim’s crash coincided exactly with the upswing at VfL Bochum that was triggered by its new coach Thomas Letsch. When Letsch started in mid-September, Bochum was last with one point. Hoffenheim was fourth with 13 points. Since then, both clubs have gradually come closer. Bochum’s win brought them very close on Saturday, now with 19 points each. VfL have scored 18 points with Letsch within twelve games, while Hoffenheim have won six points in the same period.
When Breitenreiter was presented in June, he said: “Dietmar Hopp would like sixth place and I would like to be even better.” In mid-September it still looked as if Breitenreiter could grant the TSG patron this wish. But nothing has worked since then. The last win in the league so far (3-0 against Schalke) dates from October 14th.
Breitenreiter was frustrated, at a loss, loaded after the defeat in Bochum. “I see a high level of intensity in every training session, but the team isn’t getting that on the pitch at the moment,” he complained, becoming more and more radical in his rhetoric: “This performance didn’t have much to do with professional football. That’s not acceptable. It something has to happen. I won’t put up with that anymore.” Breitenreiter answered questions about his job in a similar way to the last one: “It’s not about not, it’s about turning around; the club has to decide that.”
The decline also has to do with staffing needs. Striker Georgino Rutter has been sold to Leeds United, midfield enhancer Grischa Prömel broke his ankle in early November and striker Andrej Kramaric appears to be suffering from a degree of fatigue and only came on in the second half in Bochum. Added to this are the absences of such regulars as Kevin Vogt, Pavel Kaderabek, Robert Skov and Jacob Bruun Larsen.
The Bochum goals were needle pricks in Hoffenheim’s wounds. The header monster Philipp Hofmann was allowed to score the 1:0 with a foot (22nd minute), Philipp Förster provocatively sat in the lotus seat after his 2:0 (30th) and Takuma Asano celebrated before his 3:0 (40th) a step-over against the hesitant Stanley Nsoki.
Bochum has won all home games under coach Letsch
Two hopeful goals by Christoph Baumgartner (49′) and Munas Dabbur (77′) in the second half were immediately opposed by Bochum with goals from Erhan Masovic (60′) and Moritz Broschinski (83′). The latter, a new signing from Borussia Dortmund II, scored his first goal in his first Bundesliga game. Such things happen on fertile ground.
At least in the home games in the increasingly atmospheric Ruhrstadion, the Bochumers are currently doing everything. All five games on Castroper Straße were won under Letsch. There have not been five home wins in a row at VfL since 1976. “It was a great game,” said the coach, almost sounding a bit taken aback. No relief beckons him. On Wednesday evening, VfL plays Borussia Dortmund in the cup.