Matthew Marshall –
SINSHEIM – Hoffenheim v Borussia Dortmund will leave die Kraichgauer feel like it was two points dropped after a 1-1 draw at the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar Arena. Joelinton gave the home side the lead, but despite going a man up after Abdou Diallo’s red card Hoffenheim couldn’t close it out and succumbed to a late Christian Pulisic equaliser.
Here are six talking points from Hoffenheim v Borussia Dortmund:
Hoffenheim let it slip
Julian Nagelsmann’s side let Dortmund off the hook after failing to close out the match and make their dominance count. Leonardo Bittencourt spurned a glorious opportunity to put Hoffenheim into the lead but Joelinton’s debut Bundesliga goal gave them a deserved half-time lead.
Bittencourt’s weak shot shortly after the break was another missed opportunity and Ermin Bicakcic thought he had headed Hoffenheim into a 2-0 lead before VAR ruled it out. Mahmoud Dahoud was fortunate to escape a second yellow card but Abdou Diallo wasn’t so lucky, dismissed after holding back Andrej Kramaric after a quick break.
Despite being a man up for the final 15 minutes, Hoffenheim couldn’t control proceedings and were duly punished in the closing stages. Marco Reus came alive and was allowed too much space to turn and drive to the by-line, his cross finding Christian Pulisic who made no mistake from close range.
It was poor defending all around, and add Ishak Belfodil’s close range miss in added time into the equation, Hoffenheim will be kicking themselves after failing to turn their superiority into victory.
Joelinton has arrived
Joelinton was the hat-trick hero at Kaiserslautern in the DFB-Pokal 1stround and has started every match since. The big Brazilian is improving after each game and appears to be another player benefitting from Julian Nagelsmann’s astute tutelage.
Joelinton beat Akanji early on with his cross failing to find a teammate, but he did it himself with a left foot finish past Roman Bürki for the opening goal. Joelinton provided a good chance for Andrej Kramaric before almost doubling his tally with a shot from outside the area that Bürki tipped off the post.
The 22-year-old definitely has the physique, skill and speed to be a top striker. He is capable of hold up play, getting behind the defence and driving at defenders with the ability to beat them 1 on 1. He isn’t afraid of doing the dirty work either, involved in defending from the front and effective in the high press.
Joelinton has so far solved the problem of replacing Mark Uth. If he continues to improve, Hoffenheim could have a real weapon up front who is able to unlock defences in a number of different ways.
Hoffenheim v Borussia Dortmund – Posch takes his chance
Stefan Posch has started the past three games after profiting from the injury crisis in defence. The 21-year-old had a difficult assignment against Dortmund’s variations in attack but acquitted himself and held his own.
Posch started the match well, made some vital interceptions and passed the ball forward with accuracy and confidence. He would have been disappointed after failing to cut out the ball that led to Dortmund’s equaliser, but has shown that he can compete at the top level and be another improver this season.
Red card, eventually
Mahmoud Dahoud picked up a quick booking after losing possession and should have seen another yellow early in the second half. Nico Schulz broke on the counter attack and looked to be bursting clear with only Bürki to beat, Dahoud pulling him down with a red card apparently imminent.
Referee Harm Osmers and his assistants had other ideas however, but it wouldn’t be long before Hoffenheim would claim a man advantage. A long ball over the defence saw Kramaric and Abdou Diallo fighting for the ball, the Dortmund central defender judged to have brought his opponent down and duly sent off.
Dortmund’s musical chairs attack
Shinji Kagawa and Christian Pulisic started the as Lucian Favre continues to see what combinations work in attack. Marco Reus was initially in a central position before moving to the right wing, Pulisic switching to the left and Marius Wolf playing centrally.
— Matthew Marshall (@noobzcorp) September 22, 2018
Kagawa played very high in an attempt to give Hoffenheim’s back three little time on the ball and at times was the furthest forward for the visitors. Jadon Sancho and Maximilian Philipp came off the bench but had little impact as Reus and Pulisic combined for the equaliser.
Paco Alcácer looked to be the solution up front after the win against Eintracht Frankfurt, but his injury and a lack of belief in Alexander Isak means there is no real focal point in Dortmund’s attack. Reus and Philipp both have strengths playing up front, and the constant switching of positions can trouble opposition defences, but Favre has to figure out what works best before too long.
Hoffenheim v Borussia Dortmund – Pulisic goes back-to-back
Christian Pulisic started on the right wing after his cameo and winning goal off the bench at Club Brugge in the Champions League and was a danger throughout. Schulz struggled to keep him in check early on as he hugged the touchline and looked to drive down the right wing.
Pulisic set up Kagawa who almost scored and was a constant threat with his direct running and attacking intent. It was no surprise when Pulisic showed the hunger and desire to get into position to score the equaliser.
The 20-year-old has shown that he is more than ready to be a starter in Favre’s team despite so many top quality options on the wing. It was another promising performance, and after lasting a full 90 minutes hopefully, we will see much more of Pulisic moving forward.
Matthew Marshall is a freelance football journalist. Born in Australia and living in Germany, he is sports mad but his passion is undoubtedly the beautiful game. Primarily covering the Bundesliga and the Portuguese national team, he follows all the major European domestic leagues intently alongside both UEFA club competitions. A member of the International Sports Press Association (AIPS). Follow Matthew Marshall on Twitter @noobzcorp