An afternoon fixture of the Baden-Wurttemberg derby between Hoffenheim and Stuttgart was in the offing as they met at the Rhein-Neckar Arena. Both sides were keen to secure the 3 points and move away from the drop zone.
Versatile Andreas Beck was the first to sting the palms of goalkeeper Sven Ulreich within 5 minutes, but his effort was pushed out for a corner which was well defended by Stuttgart.
Hoffenheim’s early dominance resulted in the hosts opening the scoring: Firmino, down the left hand side, drilled in a low ball which cannoned off the unsuspecting Ulreich into the path of Sven Schipplock who had the simple task of striking the ball into the net.
‘It’s a derby and it will be intense’ were the words of Sejad Salihović pre-match and how right he was. Not only were there a flurry of fouls in the first half, right-back Rüdiger also managed to nudge Beck which sent him tumbling over the advertising boards.
After a lively start, the rest of the first half fizzled out with both sides evenly matched yet Hoffenheim with the lead.
The second half began in similar fashion to the first. Hoffenheim coming out of the blocks faster and netting their second of the match. Volland played through by Salihović and finished in style.
Sven Schlipplock ensured their would be no way back for Stuttgart as he chipped Ulreich in sensational fashion to double his scoring tally and put Hoffenheim 3-0 up.
Despite the tie seemingly over, a corner whipped in towards the near post is missed by Casteels and capitalised on by Rüdiger giving them a route back into the match.
Or so it seemed, just minutes after Stuttgart appeared to give themselves a lifeline, Moritz Leitner was shown a second yellow for a cynical studs-showing tackle that confirmed Hoffenheim would be the victors in this derby.
Substitute Modeste’s inspired run that saw him take on three Stuttgart defenders almost resulted in a fourth goal for the hosts only to be denied by Ulreich, who despite the substational amount of goals he conceded can be satisfied with his peformance.
Modeste was then pulled to the floor in the penalty area in injury time as Hoffenheim were awarded a spot-kick. Man of the match Firmino stepped up and dispatched it to cap off an impressive 4-1 victory.
Reaction: This result is sure to only lower the morale of Stuttgart even more as they edge closer and closer to the drop zone. They lacked fight and belief in this crunch match. Their strikeforce lacked potency and midfield failed to create many chances. This defeat only signals that this rut Schneider’s men doesn’t look like it’s going to stop anytime soon. On the flip side Hoffenheim will be on cloud nine after a sublime victory in the Baden-Wurttemberg derby. Standout performances from Beck, Firmino, Volland and Schipplock suggest that their fans shouldn’t fear relegation this season and could be in line for a top half finish. Credit to Markus Gisdol.
Hoffenheim: Casteels – 5, Beck – 7, Abraham – 6, Sule – 6, Johnson – 6, Salihovic, 7, Polanski – 6, Herdling – 5, Firmino – 8, Volland – 7, Schipplock 8
Stuttgart: Ulreich – 6, Rudiger – 7, Niedermeier – 5, Schwaab – 5, Boka – 5, Khedira, 5, Leitner – 4, Harnik 5, Traore – 6, Werner, 5, Abdellaoue – 5.