HSV hope to kickstart Christmas run-in with win against Bochum
VfL Bochum are the visitors to the Volksparkstadion on Sunday (kick-off 1:30pm CET) for the first fixture after the international break.
Seven fixtures have already been played in the 2. Bundesliga, and six more lay between Hamburger SV and the shortened winter break, a critical phase with the fixtures coming thick and fast. Daniel Thioune will be hoping that his side can continue their undefeated start to the league campaign and get back to winning ways after two consecutive draws against St. Pauli and Holstein Kiel before the international break. After an encouraging start to the season, Bochum fans will be hoping that they can push on and challenge for promotion under Thomas Reis for the duration, the quality of their squad certainly making them one of the favourites for promotion.
Focus on the visitors
VfL Bochum, from the Ruhr valley region which has been a hotbed for German football since the inception of the Bundesliga, are one of the traditional teams, stalwarts in the 1970s and ‘80s, and yo-yoing between the top two divisions in the two decades following re-unification. Relegated from the Bundesliga in 2010, VfL almost bounced straight back up, cruelly denied in the relegation play-off by Borussia Mönchengladbach. No one would have believed it at the time, but this would be the closest Bochum would come to the Bundesliga in the next decade. Despite their passionate and loyal fanbase and one of the bigger budgets in the league, VfL have struggled to mount a serious promotion push in the intervening ten years, invariably coming out of the blocks quickly before fading away later in the season.
Last season was punctuated more by a relegation battle than push for promotion, before an excellent end to the season after lockdown under former Bochum player Thomas Reis saw VfL make an assault on the upper echelons of the table and eventually finish in eighth position. The momentum has been carried over into the new season, Bochum sitting in sixth on 11 points going into Matchday 8. Similarly to his opposite number, Reis will be hoping his side can start the Christmas run-in strongly, having lost two of the last four, including a 2-0 home loss to Greuther Fürth in the last game before the international break.
Opposition scouting report
Reis has been fairly consistent with his selection so far, relying on a 4-3-3 formation, selecting exactly the same starting eleven for VfL’s last three encounters. Whilst it is unusual to start a tactical analysis with a goalkeeper, this is certainly fitting for Manuel Riemann, who has been at the club for five years and developed into the foundation upon which the team is built. The 32-year-old stopper has been the one consistent element for Bochum alongside captain Anthony Losilla over the past few seasons, providing leadership as well as excellent shot-stopping ability, best displayed in the recent 3-2 win over Würzburger Kickers, pulling out an incredible reflex save in injury time to secure his team the three points.
Riemann and his defence have been solid this season, only four teams having conceded less than their eight goals, but Reis will be hoping his attacking unit can be more potent after the break. Simon Zoller has four of his side’s nine goals, but Soma Novothny and Milos Pantovic who play alongside him in the attacking three have only managed one goal between them. Silvère Ganvoula, who contributed towards 19 goals last season, has also yet to make an impression and seen himself lose his place in the starting eleven in the last three games, and HSV will have to be aware of his impact from the bench.
Daniel Thioune on Bochum: "Bochum have started the season well and are well-known for their attractive style of football. But they're also not afraid to mix it up, play the ball long and gamble on the second ball given the strength in the air that they have as well. That’s something we’ll have to be prepared for."
Full steam ahead for HSV
The atmosphere was one of anticipation at Friday’s pre-match press conference, Daniel Thioune ready to go on Sunday after a much-needed break. The main takeaway was Daniel Thioune’s praise for his players and medical staff, only Rick van Drongelen unavailable for Sunday’s clash, something that is certainly unusual in a season characterised by more pressure and load placed on the players’ bodies than usual. Klaus Gjasula travelled to Albania for his country’s Nations League matches during the international break, but has produced a negative coronavirus test on arrival back in Germany, meaning he can forego quarantine and will be available to play on Sunday. After two draws in a row and a frustrating last-minute equaliser against Holstein Kiel last time out, the Rothosen know that a win is vital to gather momentum heading into December, and hoping to build on the current tally of 17 points from seven games.
This is the best start to a season for HSV since 2009/10, when the Rothosen were also unbeaten after seven games on 17 points under Bruno Labbadia.
Bochum have collected more points in their first three away games (6), than their first four home games (5), but thus far have only faced teams below them in the table away from home.
No other team has used more under-21 players than HSV this season, with the quartet of Onana, Ambrosius, Vagnoman and Amaechi. Bochum on the other hand have the oldest average age for their starting eleven in the division with 28.6.
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