BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH 3 TSG 1899 HOFFENHEIM 3
Stadion im Borussia-Park, Monchengladbach
Gate € 41.50
Programme € n/a
Saturday and it was time for my first ever taste of Bundesliga. What a way to start.
Opening my hotel curtains to snow was a bit of a surprise, however I was soon wrapped up and heading off into Cologne city centre for a mooch around. In temperatures below freezing it does not take too long before you are heading into a coffee shop for some warmth.
I was soon on the train to Monchengladbach, €16 each way for first class bought on the day seemed good value and I was on my way heading through a number of towns and cities I had never heard of before, arriving in Monchengladbach just over an hour later. Being a little early I decided to walk up to Borussia-Park, google maps taking me along back streets and parks passing a number of brilliant sculptures.
As the stadium came into view, I could also see the nearby Warsteiner Hockey Park, quite impressive for a hockey stadium, and home to the wonderfully named American Football team, Monchengladbach Mavericks.
Getting closer to Borussia-Park, I started thinking back to the team of the 70s, Berti Vogts, Rainer Bonhof, Allan Simonsen and Jupp Heynckes, what a team. There have been a few decent ones since too, Martin Dahlin, Marco Reus, Patrik Andersson and Oliver Neuville to name but a few. Not too shabby a list that.
After a visit to the club shop it was time to go in and as nice as Borussia-Park is, I am envious of anyone who managed to get to Bolkelbergstadion before the move. Looked a great place.
Due to Stuttgart winning the previous evening there was now a gap between the two league positions, Borussia occupying 10th, their visitors 3 points ahead in 7th, both sides still hoping to close the gap to the places for European football next season.
As the teams came out a handful of Hoffenheim fans to my left making a fair amount of noise, trying their best to drown out the home faithful, I was beginning to notice a bit of a tradition at games in Germany, Van Halen’s Jump appears to be a firm fans favourite.
Borussia with a number of injuries were relying on another of Chelsea’s ‘rejects’ Eden’s younger brother Thorgen Hazard. His constant moving and probing was very much a threat to the visitors, who in turn had a forward line made up of ex-Premier League players, Gnabry of Arsenal & West Brom fame, his partner, Kramaric once of Leicester City.
Whilst the hosts started the better it was Hoffenheim who took the lead, the first corner of the game, swung in by Kramaric was met by the head of Hubner, his header gave Sommer no chance. Hazard continued to probe, and minutes after the goal Hermann headed too close to Baumann, but the Hoffenhein keeper still had to produce a good save.
Drmic replaced the injured Bobadilla, another casualty for The Foals, recent form for both the substitute and his side did not bode well. Cuisance and Wendt both missed the target when they should have done better, but nothing on Kramaric, who missed a golden chance to make it 2-0.
Just after the half hour and it was 1-1. A Cuisance through ball for Drmic caught the forward flat footed, Baumann thinking the striker was going to get to the ball was more prepared to block than collect, the ball bouncing up off the keeper, onto the strikers arm, the bounce taking the ball past Baumann, Drimic rolled it into the unguarded goal. 1-1. Or was it? My first experience of VAR. After a minute or so the goal was confirmed.
The Foals had their tails up , just before the break Hazard fired just over, Hermann forced Baumann into another fine stop.
H-T: Borussia Monchengladbach 1 TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 1
After surviving the cold for 15 minutes we got underway again, Hazard scuffing an effort wide as the hosts controlled the early exchanges, it was from yet another attack that the visitors broke away and regained the lead. Kramaric playing a lovely through ball for Gnabry to run on to Hofmann catching the striker, penalty given. Step up Kramaric, good strike 2-1 with a little over 30 minutes still left.
The hosts looked shocked, Hoffenheim confident, and wilst their defending was not always textbook it was looking effective, that was until the 72nd minute, with what was about to be a brilliant 20 or so minutes. A good build up led to a superb ball by Hofmann, Stindl’s run was perfect, he was in space, he turned, he scored, 2-2. Though parity was not to last long.
Less than a minute later, Hofmann was again central to the build up, turning into the referee, who superbly tackled the midfielder, the ball breaking to Uth, he fed Grillitsch he fired across Sommer and Hoffenheim were back in the lead.
Borussia kept going, they probed at the visitors defence, Raffael had a shot charged down, Elvedi had a header saved by Baumann, the keeper was earning his corn. Nordtveit, another ex Premier League player, West Ham, came on for Hoffenheim, before his side hit The Foals on the break and Schulz smashed an effort against the bar, This was brilliant stuff.
Stindl went very close in the last minute as Borussia continued to plug away, a corner in the last minute found its way to the far side of the box, Raffael drove the ball cross the six yard box and there was Ginter at the far post to turn in a third equaliser for the hosts. And still the hosts pushed forward, Hoffenheim defending with everything they had, but even then they could have won it, Kramaric forcing a great save from Sommer.
What a game!
F-T: Borussia Monchengladbach 3 TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
I decided to head back to Cologne from Rhedyt Station. Google maps telling me it was nearer than Monchengladbach. It may well be, but if you are making this journey do not follow this app. When all the locals start to turn off and eventually you are the only person heading along a path it is for a reason! I managed to somehow avoid mud and fences before finally getting back to tarmac. Crisis avoided I was soon on the train.
Again, the cathedral was imposing upon my arrival, all lit up and the bells ringing away, quite incredible.
Tomorrow was Dortmund. If it was half as good as today it was going to be special.
Games since a 0-0: 6
Milestone: Total attendance for the season have now gone past 300,000
Random Fact: My 148th penalty. The 101st to hit the back of the net.