Rarely do hyped-up sporting events live up to all the talk. But Friday night’s showdown between Bayern Munich and Hoffenheim in the German soccer league certainly was worth all the anticipation.
It was the true David vs Goliath with the record and reigning champions Bayern Munich hosting the promoted club Hoffenheim, who were in first place by three points. Hoffenheim took the lead through their unconscious striker Vedad Ibisevic in the 49th minute – his 18th goal in 16 games. And then Philipp Lahm equalised at the hour mark and both teams had a number of chance to win the game. But Bayern pulled out the victory with a typical Bayern “dumb luck” goal a minute into injury time by Luca Toni.
Even though Hoffenheim were clearly disappointed they could not leave Munich with at least one point, Ralf Rangnick’s team proved that they will be a contender for the title – unless injuries hit them in the second half of the team.
Here two articles heinnews’s David Hein wrote for AP about the game
Bayern-Hoffenheim live up to billing
By David Hein
MUNICH, Germany (AP) _ Bayern Munich and Hoffenheim lived up to its billing as a real battle of titans with everything a soccer fan’s heart could desire: a beloved underdog, loads of passion and a heart-wrenching late goal to decide things.
Luca Toni’s goal a minute into injury time gave reigning Bundesliga champion Bayern Munich a comeback 2-1 victory at home over the league’s Cinderella of the season, Hoffenheim.
Hoffenheim’s Bosnian assassin Vedad Ibisevic scored his league-leading 18th goal – in just 16 games – after 49 minutes which Munich’s German defender Philipp Lahm equalized at the hour mark, setting up Toni’s heroics.
“It was a very hard fought match,” Jurgen Klinsmann said. “It’s super that we could win in the end. Hoffenheim is the best team in the league that we’ve played against. But we also had enough chances to make it 2-1 earlier.”
Bayern’s 10th game without a loss pulled Klinsmann’s team to 34 points after 16 rounds, even with Hoffenheim but three goals behind the promoted club on goal difference.
The defeat, however, was only Hoffenheim’s second in the last 10 games _ the other eight results all victories for Ralf Rangnick’s upstart team.
“It’s a bitter outcome for us. A draw would have been absolutely deserved, we were closer to 2-1 than Bayern. When you lose the game like that, it’s brutal,” Rangnick said.
Hoffenheim defender Marvin Compper said the loss really means very little, adding: “Of course it’s disappointing that we lost the game. We deserved the draw. But nothing has changed for us. We want to beat Schalke next week and celebrate Christmas and then hope the second half goes as well as the first half.”
Those were welcome words for the Hoffenheim fans who traveled down to Munich full of hope for their team before the team.
“It’s really a great feeling and really proud moment for all fans of Hoffenheim soccer. As a Mannheim native you really have a connection to the team, which has attracted a lot of new fans as well,” said Harry Kruger of Mannheim, proudly wearing his jersey of Hoffenheim striker Chinedu Obasi.
When asked what would happen if Hoffenheim won, Kruger said: “Well I guess the championship would be locked up in favor of Hoffenheim.”
Karl-Heinz Gilbert of Sinsheim-Weikl-Hoffenheim admitted the Friday showdown really tugged at his heart.
“I have a great problem. I was born in Hoffenheim and played 30 years of football in Hoffenheim – for TSG. And I was always a Bayern fan. So whom should I root for. For whom should I be happy? For me it would be best if it ended in a draw,” said Gilbert, wearing a Hoffenheim cap.
“I would have been never dreamt in my wildest dreams that Hoffenheim would have a crucial game at Bayern Munich. That would have been totally unrealistic. This is amazing. Believe me, I will be happy when I don’t have a heart attack after one hour,” he added before the game.
Hoffenheim spent the first five minutes of the game showing it was not shy about being physical with Bayern stars such as Franck Ribery, Toni, Mark Van Bommel and even a front-charging Lucio.
And Demba Ba had the first two real chances as Bayern goalkeeper Michael Rensing was perfectly placed for a shot from the right wing and then the French-Senegalese’s header went over the crossbar from 12 yards in the ninth minute.
Bayern let the promoted side push forward and relied on its star playmakers Ribery and Ze Roberto to create chances on the counterattack, including Toni striking into the left netting in the 12th after a loft pass by Ze Roberto as Hoffenheim keeper Daniel Haas was beaten on the play.
After a series of pushes forward in the first quarter, the rest of the first half was spent in the midfield as Hoffenheim could not find any openings for Ibisevic, and both defenses proved they were up to the task.
Hoffenheim had a fine counterattack chance in the 38th but it closed very quickly and Ibisevic could not get much power on his shot.
The second half started with the same energy and Ibisevic struck the back of the net before many of the fans had even returned to their seats, giving Hoffenheim the first goal four minutes in.
Tobias Weis pushed down the right side and passed into the middle to the Bosnian striker, who fended off Massimo Oddo, turned, and blasted past Rensing from close range.
Rensing had to make a fine save on Carlos Eduardo’s left-footer in the 53rd. And Rangnick’s men continued to find more room.
The Hoffenheim fans from the North Curve of the sold out Allianz Arena were feeding on the run of play and started chanting “Away victory!”
But Daniel van Buyten sent his header in the 59th just over the crossbar on a corner. And Lahm equalized in the 60th, waking up the Bayern fans in the South Curve for good.
The Germany defender dribbled in from the left wing and into the middle just outside the area and his shot back to the right post was deflected over Haas.
Bayern missed a chance to grab the lead in the 68th but Toni could not get to a dangerous free kick into the box.
Miroslav Klose had loads of room down the right wing in the 81st but pushed his shot wide left.
Sejad Salihovic’s free kick a minute later was just off target into the side netting.
Salihovic was fed into the area by Ibisevic in the 86th but could not beat Rensing one-on-one from 10 yards out.
Bayern finally bagged the winner one minute into injury time, collecting a poor clearance attempt and then beating Haas from inside the box, sending the Bayern fans off into the streets of Munich to celebrate – and Hoffenheim’s supporters back home still with hope for a title.
Disappointed Hoffenheim with heads up after Bayern loss
By David Hein
MUNICH (AP) _ Not even an injury time “dumb luck” loss against Bayern Munich could keep an admittedly disappointed Hoffenheim from leaving southern Germany with its collective head up.
“It is really aggravating to lose 2-1 in extra time. We just cannot let ourselves be in such a position,” said Hoffenheim defender Matthias Jaissle after his team lost 2-1 at Bayern Munich on Friday night.
Jaissle and the promoted club grabbed the lead in the 49th minute only to have Philipp Lahm equalize on 60 minutes. And then Jaissle watched as his defensive partner Andreas Ibertsberger mis-played a back pass which Luca Toni ran onto and beat Hoffenheim Daniel Haas for the winning goal a minute into injury time.
“But how we lost this game really lets us leave Munich with our heads up,” concluded Jaissle, whose team still leads the Bundesliga on goal difference as Bayern pulled even on points at 34 after 16 matches.
The German soccer world was left thinking typical Bayern, scoring a fluke goal in the waning minutes to wrestle away a victory from its opponents.
The German mass circulation tabloid daily Bild ran the title Saturday: “Unbelievable Klinsi (Jurgen Klinsmann)! Only Bayern can win like this! Bayern’s legendary ‘dumb luck’ helps again!”
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said: “Bayern wins in extra time. That is the difference. The German champion made a pact with St Nicholas and was gifted a last-minute goal by Luca Toni in a great showdown with 1899 Hoffenheim.”
Coach Ralf Rangnick’s Hoffenheim clearly showed the world – the game was televised live in 168 countries – that it is not just a club from a tiny village but a legitimate contender for the Bundesliga title.
“What Bayern did better than us today was really just the one goal. It was great how our team defended itself today, especially physically,” said Rangnick, whose team had collected eight victories and one loss in previous nine games coming into Friday night.
“It was a great experience for us. Of course it’s disappointing but we will learn from this and it will help us over the course of the season.”
Rangnick remained realistic about his club’s chances for the Bundesliga title, which would be the first time a promoted club won the crown since Kaiserslautern in the 1996-97 season.
“If things go like normal than Bayern should be champion. We just want to worry about beating Schalke next week and then have a Christmas break and start focusing on the second half,” said the coach.
Hoffenheim defender Marvin Compper added: “In principle nothing has changed. We still want to play for the title. Why shouldn’t we? We have been playing some very good soccer.”
Hoffenheim also received plenty of praise from Bayern coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who said: “Hoffenheim was the best team we played against this season in the Bundesliga. And they deserve to be where they are right now.”
And German soccer fans are left wondering where Hoffenheim would be if it had just a bit of Bayern’s “dumb luck” on its side.