The International Break is over and VfL Bochum 1848 find themselves immediately faced with a mammoth task. On Sunday 22nd November at 13:30 CET, Thomas Reis‘ side head to league leaders Hamburger SV (HSV) looking to assert their own promotion credentials on the league. Here‘s our Look Ahead at what makes their manager tick, which familiar faces you might see in Hamburg and how the season has gone so far for the former Bundesliga giants.
Before the season, the HSV fans were faced with the familiar spectacle of seeing a new manager introduced. After Dieter Hecking failed to achieve promotion last season, the experienced manager was replaced by Daniel Thioune. The 46-year old coach was poached from VfL Osnabrück, where he had done some great work the season before. He was tasked with using his refreshing ideas about football to fire HSV back up to Germany‘s top tier. ‘For me it has never been about fame or fortune, I‘d call myself an Idealist and to a certain extent a footballing romantic. I am convinced of an idea of how football can work‘, said Thioune in his first interview in Hamburg. This popular figure is proving these are more than simply empty words through HSV‘s table-topping start to the season.
It feels slightly like VfL has opened a Northern branch. Five former Blue and White players are plying their trade in Hamburg. The key man amongst this quintet is Simon Terodde: the former VfL-top scorer has played key roles for VfB Stuttgart and Cologne, before joining HSV in the summer, where he has eight goals in six league games. He is comfortably in the best position to add to his four 2.Bundesliga Golden Boots. His strike partners in Hamburg are also VfL alumni. Lukas Hinterseer and Manuel Wintzheimer, who was on loan at Anne Castroper last season, are two of the real rising stars amongst HSV‘s ranks. At Right-Back, Jan Gyamerah is coming back into favour in Hamburg, and Daniel Heuer Fernandes is the back-up keeper after the signing of Sven Ulreich last summer.
HSV were once Bundesliga giants. For 55 consecutive seasons HSV ate at German football‘s top table, until in Summer 2018 this great legend came to an end. Since the club was established in September 1887, they have developed into one of the biggest in Germany. Six Bundesliga titles, three DFB-Pokals. Their greatest success as a club came in the 1982/83 season, when they won the European Cup Winners Cup. Over the last few years their invincible reputation has come under some scrutiny. Since their relegation, two fourth-placed finishes have meant they‘re still in the 2.Bundesliga. Is this season their third time lucky?
Even in the Bundesliga, this game has always been something of a classic. 79 games have been played between the two sides, although the Northern side have the record in their favour. Bochum have won 23 times, with 21 draws and 35 HSV victories. In the 2.Bundesliga VfL are still waiting for a win, with two losses and two draws on the books so far. A fun fact: this Sunday marks the anniversary of VfL‘s last victory at the Volkparkstadion. On 22nd November 2009, Dennis Grote scored the only goal as Bochum took all three points home.
THE BALANCE SHEET
After seven gameweeks, HSV find themselves at the top of the 2.Bundesliga. Daniel Thioune‘s side are three points clear and currently unbeaten. They won their first five games, but have drawn their last two, against local rivals FC. St Pauli (2–2) and Holstein Kiel (1-1), showing that they aren’t invincible. Their only loss so far came in the DFB-Pokal, as HSV fell 4-1 to 3.Liga side SG Dynamo Dresden, leaving Daniel Thioune and his men with all the time in the world to focus on the league.
After a wait of eleven years, VfL Bochum 1848 have landed an away win over Hamburg SV again. A first-half penalty goal by Robert Zulj, a sweet chip by Danny Blum and a poached Raman Chibsah goal from a Ganvoula assist secured the three points against the runaway league leaders.
VfL head coach Thomas Reis made several changes to his starting eleven, introducing youngster Armel Bella Kotchap in defence and Robert Tesche as a defensive midfielder as well as Danny Blum and Gerrit Holtmann either side of Austrian playmaker Robert Žulj with Simon Zoller supplying some much-needed speed up-front.
VfL Bochum demonstrated intent from the starting whistle by playing a high pressing line and looked more threatening despite a couple of long-range efforts by Wintzheimer. In the third minute, the visitors stole the ball near the Hamburg box and keeper Ulreich was called into action by Holtmann’s shot. After 20 minutes, the keeper saved the home team again when he tipped Blum’s shot over the bar and just two minutes later, left-back Soares ventured into the penalty box and found Zulj with a floating cross but the midfielder just couldn’t keep his header down.
VfL Bochum were clearly in the driving seat despite needing one narrow escape when a Hamburg goal was rightly ruled out by VAR for offside and on 36 minutes, the visitors took a deserved lead. Zulj took a free-kick quickly to put Tesche through. The latter seemed to find himself at too narrow an angle but managed to take the ball past Ulreich who brought the midfielder down for a penalty. Zulj wrong-footed the goalie and sent the ball high into the centre of the goal.
Virtually on the half-time whistle, Soares dribbled into the middle and his shot from 20 yards missed by only a yard. So far, a well-deserved lead for the visitors in the “floodlight-blue” shirts…
Hamburg tried to build up pressure in the second half but they needed another long-range effort, this time from Hunt on 49 minutes, to create a semblance of danger with Bochum posing much more of a threat, for example in the 55 minute when Blum, Zoller, Holtmann and Žulj just couldn’t score from a free-for-all in the Hamburg penalty area and only two minutes later when Blum’s corner-kick almost found Zoller on the near post but was cleared for another corner.
Out of the blue, VfL Bochum gifted Hamburg a golden opportunity when Leitsch unnecessarily clattered into Hunt who was on his way out of the box – penalty! Former Bochum boy Simon Terodde made no mistake and equalised on 65 minutes.
HSV were now trying to turn the tide by replacing Wintzheimer, Hunt, Jatta and Dudziak with Kittel, Narey, Wood and Gjasula. Must be lovely to have a bench like that at your disposal! But it was still VfL Bochum who seemed certain to score when Zoller was clean through who saw his shot beat the keeper only to rebound from the inside of the post and roll along the goal line to be stabbed away after 75 minutes.
Reis now had to substitute Holtmann with an injured arm after a defender stepped on him and he introduced Silvere Ganvoula who was not involved in the next VfL attack though. A long kick from Riemann started some great link-up play which brought the ball to Danny Blum outside the right side of the box for our winger to chip the ball with his weaker right foot over the helpless Ulreich – what a strike!
Chibsah came on for the excellent but tiring Robert Tesche and it took our defensive midfielder just four minutes to poach a goal after Ganvoula headed a cross from the right wing back into the middle. VfL 1848 now had the win all but under their belt and the coach handed Herbert Bockhorn his league debut five minutes from the end to play a part in a great away win after a thoroughly convincing team performance which takes VfL Bochum to fourth in the table before our home match versus local rivals Fortuna Düsseldorf a week on Monday.
Thomas Reis (manager VfL Bochum 1848): Of course, we are very happy to have gained the three points here today. We had set ourselves very high goals, knowing that HSV have an incredibly high quality in their squad. Nevertheless, we wanted to play courageously. We were still a bit lucky in the first minutes but after that we found better into our game and gained control. Great respect for how the team reacted after the equalizer. We continued to put pressure on our opponents and didn’t lose our self-confidence after the goal against us and the big chances we have missed in this phase. After all, I think the away win is well-deserved. For me personally, HSV still remain the biggest favourites for promotion.
Herbert Bockhorn (VfL Bochum 1848): I’m very happy that I finally made my debut for VfL. It felt just great. I had a couple of injury issues at the beginning of the season, but I managed to fight back. Now the debut. A win, and that against HSV – it doesn’t get any better than that.
Danny Blum (VfL Bochum 1848): The right foot is not even my strong one. When Robert played the pass over to me, I already could see in the corner of my eye that the keeper was coming out of his goal a little bit. The I knew that I had to lob the ball over him somehow. A beautiful goal. I’m very delighted that I was able to bring the team back into the lead. But the most important thing is the win today. Hamburg had problems with our style of play. We were hurting them, we were ailing. And that for over 90 minutes. That's how we dampened our opponent's courage. HSV are really good at playing, and rightly so up there. But we also knew that we could beat them if we got our basics on the pitch. The victory is completely ok.
Robert Zulj (VfL Bochum 1848): We have done many things really well today. We wanted to be agile, run a lot, put HSV under pressure again and again. With the ball wins we could use our fast players again and again. That worked out today. In the end we deserved the three points. I am a player who has his own opinion. That doesn't always suit people, but I know that too. But I'm happy that I played a good game today and was able to show the coach that I can be relied on.