TSG 1899 Hoffenheim – Borussia Dortmund: Hoffenheim thoroughly outplay Dortmund, but fail to obtain the deserved three points (1-1)
Football is not fair and sometimes the ‘Football Gods’ like to remind us of that fact. The point with which Dortmund left Hoffenheim can be seen as such a reminder. How talent can make up for faulty tactics.
Julian Nagelsmann’s final season as manager of Hoffenheim, before he takes over the reigns at RB Leipzig next summer, is not going to be easy. For the second time in a row, he saw his best players leave. With Serge Gnabry heading back to Bayern München and Mark Uth signing with Schalke 04, the wonder boy coach - still only 31 years old - lost two of his three biggest attacking talents. Last season - when Nicklas Süle, Sebastian Rudy and Sandro Wagner all signed for Bayern - Hoffenheim already lost its best player in each line of the formation.
What Hoffenheim does possess as a club, is the ability to find underrated talent in the ‘scrap heap’ of the transfer market. Each year, Hoffenheim signs players who were cast-offs at their former clubs for a variety of reasons, and turns them, within the tactically sophisticated playing style of Nagelsmann, into very useful players.
Against Dortmund, Hoffenheim had to deal with a whole slew of injuries. With center-backs Kasim Adams and Benjamin Hübner still out, Ermin Bičakčić and Stefan Posch flanked captain Kevin Vogt in the back three of Nagelsmann’s 5-3-2-in-defense, 3-1-4-2-in-possession system. Joshua Brenet made his Bundesliga debut on the right flank of defense. With Dennis Geiger, Lukas Rupp and Nadiem Amiri all out injured, Leonardo Bittencourt and Kevin Zuber played the two ‘eight’ positions in midfield. Nagelsmann furthermore chose not to start the Hungarian battering-ram Adám Szalai up front, despite . . .