The Bosnian Connection Strikes Against Augsburg – Hoffenheim 2-1 AugsburgBy: Saurabh | December 21st, 2011
After the disappointment against Hertha Berlin on the weekend, it was important for the team to go into the winter break on a high. A Pokal tie with Bundesliga newboys Augsburg was a great chance to do that. In the end, it was a match day which gave us little surprises. Bayern and Dortmund did their best to lose but somehow managed to squeeze past their lower league opposition, while Nürnberg lost to arch rivals Fürth and decided to attacked their fans. Typical stuff. And it was a fairly typical game from Hoffenheim too.
The match in its entirety was quite uneventful but there were moments that worried and moments that gave hope. Hoffenheim’s main issue is that we play a strong first half and then fail to build on that in the second half. So when the master himself, Sejad Salihovic, smacked in that brilliant freekick, the hope was that we would push on with it and finish Augsburg off. The chances did come, but they were terribly wasted as usual. Instead, the expected Augsburg goal followed and it was very lax defending to allow Torsten Oehrl to sneak in and finish the rebound. In a way the goal coming before the half was a good thing. That allowed Stanislawski to adjust and it looked to have paid off.
It didn’t take long for Salihovic to strike again. Instead of scoring from the freekick however, he provided a perfect near post ball for his compatriot, Ibisevic to squeeze in. The team was able to push on well from that but unfortunately no chances were put away. We also saw Babel pick up a knock after a clash with Callsen-Bracker and he had to be replaced by a rejuvinated Boris Vuckevic. Hopefully the injury wasn’t anything severe and he was just taken off so as not to aggravate the knock.
The most interesting move of the half was actually a tactical one by Stanislawski. He took Peniel Mlapa off and brought on a much more defensive minded Daniel Williams. It ended up giving Hoffenheim much more solidarity when the eventual Augsburg assault began in the last five or so minutes. It was a very important win that ensures a spot in the quarter finals of the Pokal, where Hoffenheim lost to Energie Cottbus last season.
And as Andy Black said in the post match conference, “In the Cup, it’s all or nothing.” With just a handful of teams remaining, it is our one realistic chance of winning a trophy. Hopefully, the team takes the competition more seriously than it has in the past and pushes towards a much better result in this years tournament.
It is a difficult ask though, especially since we could most likely have Isaac Vorsah out until March. He picked up a three match ban after being sent off against Hertha, which is a curious decision in itself considering professional fouls only warrant a one match ban. He will also be leaving for the African Cup of Nations soon and if Ghana do get far in the tournament he won’t be back until at least late January or early February. With Compper also out injured you never know if he could face a set back on his return and leave us in a very sticky situation. Even with Dietmar Hopp’s chequebook firmly shut we could still bring in a player on loan. Much like with David Alaba last season, having a fresh young defender could provide great cover should we find ourselves in the worst case scenario.
Either way, as difficult as the last few months have been, we can look forward to 2012 with a lot of optimism. Sometimes we forget that this is the youngest team in the league and they need time to gain the mindset of some of their veteran teammates. The fickleness of fans does shock me though. While the team has given up easy points we aren’t in any sort of real danger. All this can be corrected by a strong Rückrunde.