Hoffenheim had two offside goals disallowed, hit the woodwork, missed sitters and forced Yann Sommer into excellent saves – but were somehow unable to earn more than a point against Borussia Monchengladach on Saturday afternoon.
After their 2-1 defeat by Manchester City in midweek saw them crash out of the Champions League, Julian Nagelsmann made four changes to his starting eleven – on-loan Arsenal winger Reiss Nelson making his first Bundesliga start since early November.
Hosts make alterations after midweek Champions League loss
The 19-year-old had an assist chalked off for offside after the half-hour mark, when Joelinton’s ruthless top-corner finish was reviewed by VAR – showing the Brazilian had strayed offside just before Reiss’ pass into his path.
Andrej Kramaric, who scored from the penalty spot in Manchester on Wednesday, also had a goal ruled out for offside.
Gladbach had created two promising opportunities of their own beforehand – Alassane Plea weaved his way beyond Ermin Bicakcic, forcing a good stop by Oliver Baumann, before creative midfielder Thorgan Hazard flashed a well-struck volley over the crossbar minutes later.
Joelinton continued to attack with high intensity and should’ve had his eventual reward in the second-half. Kerem Demirbay’s probing through ball set him clear on goal with only Sommer to beat, he did exactly that but could only watch his deft chip bounce back off the far post.
Rightly frustrated, the hosts were starting to wonder whether it just wasn’t going to be their day. Leonardo Bittencourt and Nelson had chances to break the deadlock, as it soon became clear Gladbach were hanging on somewhat in the latter stages.
Visitors hanging on as Hoffenheim’s wastefulness evident
They had some disappointing finishing – and their goalkeeper – to thank the scores were still goalless. Ishak Belfodil headed wide after Pavel Kaderabek’s surging run forward, before the Algerian forward squandered another chance minutes later.
Fellow substitute Ádám Szalai left his shooting boots on the bench after unselfish work by Joelinton teed him up inside the box. Sommer came out to claim an inswinging free-kick, struggled and the danger was still ever-present. That was up until the Hungarian forward struck wildly, watching the effort flash narrowly over the crossbar.
His finish typified their profligacy in-front of goal and after three goals (against Bayern and Freiburg) in Hoffenheim’s first two league games, he’s scored once in 11 since.
There was still time for one final roll of the dice – Bicakcic having his close-range header expertly saved by Sommer on an afternoon where Hoffenheim could and should have won comfortably.
Hoffenheim now sit in sixth-place on 23 points after 15 matches, unbeaten in eight league matches – but the players’ reactions at full-time said it all. They should have won.
Nagelsmann: “We played a great game and put a lot into that 90 minutes. It became more difficult second-half as they sat deeper, but I did think a goal was coming. That was one of our best games this season. If you can put in that much after a midweek game, you’ll be rewarded soon enough.”
Gladbach coach Dieter Hecking: “I’m in a good mood because we took a very lucky point and Hoffenheim did a lot of damage to us. They did a very good job, we switched to a three-defender formation in the second-half but had too little relief so I’m satisfied with the result, but not with our style of play.”
They took a whopping 27 shots to Gladbach’s six and it made for a frustrating watch. Gladbach, level on points with Bayern after their 4-0 win away against Hannover, failed to display the type of form which saw them rise to second in the Bundesliga standings.
Away at Werder and home against Mainz before the mid-season break next weekend, it’ll be interesting to see whether Nagelsmann makes any significant changes to his side going forward. They collectively performed well here while exposing Gladbach’s defensive frailties too – if not for Sommer’s important saves and fortune going the visitors’ way, they would have taken a deserved three points.