Alexa

Bundesliga leading Hoffenheim takes on VfL Bochum

Bundesliga leading Hoffenheim takes on VfL Bochum

Hoffenheim's dismantling of Hamburger SV in the Bundesliga has earned the team new respect from its peers _ and perhaps installed some fear.
Hamburg, which won the European Cup in 1983, is the only founding member of the Bundesliga that has never been relegated since the league started 45 years ago.
Hoffenheim, backed by software billionaire Dietmar Hopp to rise from the third division to the top flight in two years, has no tradition and comes from a village with a population of fewer than 3,300 people.
But it was Hamburg that looked like a novice from the province in Sunday's game, conceding three goals in 35 minutes to lose 3-0 and surrender the league lead to Hoffenheim, which returned to the top after also leading over the first two rounds.
"Hoffenheim is a very good team with a very good coach," Hamburg coach Martin Jol said.
Directed by Brazilian midfielder Carlos Eduardo, Hoffenheim forwards Vedad Ibisevic, Chinedu Obasi and Demba Ba dazzled a tired-looking Hamburg team that simply looked overmatched.
Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said he recognized the threat from Hoffenheim, which has scored the most goals (24) and has the leading scorer, Ibisevic (10).
"Every team ahead of FC Bayern in the standings deserves our respect. And they (Hoffenheim) have the respect of Bayern," said Rummenigge, whose club is fifth with 15 points after overcoming a two-goal deficit Saturday with a 4-2 home win over Wolfsburg.
Bayern captain Mark van Bommel predicted that Hoffenheim will still be prominent in the standings by the end of the season.
"I would not be surprised if they finished in the top six, maybe even in the top three," he said.
Van Bommel's teammate, Tim Borowski, described Hoffenheim as a "spectacular" team that has to be taken seriously.
Hoffenheim leads with 19 points, one ahead of Bayer Leverkusen, two in front of Hamburg and three more than Stuttgart.
Hoffenheim plays Wednesday against VfL Bochum, which lost 2-0 at Stuttgart after two late goals from Mario Gomez to be only one spot above the relegation zone, on goal difference.
Hoffenheim coach Ralf Rangnick is still trying to play down expectation.
"Of course, I don't think we will be relegated with this team," Rangnick said after Sunday's game. "The quality of the youngsters is obvious but they shouldn't believe everything they read in the newspaper.
"It's extraordinary what has been happening here in the last two and a half years. We are a hungry team. But we should not change our goal and start thinking about the top part of the standings, and we don't want to know what will be in May next year."
Bayern, the defending champion, travels to Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday. Bayern rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat Wolfsburg 4-2, while Frankfurt had a second straight win by beating Energie Cottbus 3-2 after also coming back from two goals down.
Second-place Bayer Leverkusen, coming off a 2-0 win over Cologne, plays Tuesday at Werder Bremen, which drew 1-1 at Hannover.
In other games Tuesday, Wolfsburg hosts Borussia Moenchengladbach, Karlsruhe plays Schalke and Cottbus travels to Arminia Bielefeld.
On Wednesday, third-place Hamburg is at No. 4 Stuttgart, Hertha Berlin plays Hannover and Cologne hosts Borussia Dortmund.