The Wolves away game on Saturday afternoon, in front of a crowd of 25,550 in the Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena ended in a 0-3 (0-1) defeat. The hosts took the lead in the first-half through Nico Schulz (18'). After the re-start, Bruno Labbadia’s men pushed in search of an equaliser, but in spite of creating a couple of openings, there was to be no way through. At the other end, TSG doubled their advantage through Serge Gnabry (77') and Wolfsburg’s Josuha Guilavogui, in what was his 100th Bundesliga appearance, turned the ball into his own net, making the final score 3-0 for the hosts. In the race for survival in the top-flight, the Wolves were unable to open up a gap on their immediate opponents and, at the end of 26 match-days, remain in 15th place – level on points with.
Starting eleven debut for Rexhbecaj
VfL head-coach Bruno Labbadia made a total of three changes to the side that began in last weekend’s 1-2 defeat to Bayer 04 Leverkusen: The suspended William was replaced by Elvis Rexhbecaj, making his competitive starting eleven debut for the Wolves, whilst Yunus Malli got the nod ahead of winter returnee Josip Brekalo. In addition, Riechedly Bazoer made the starting eleven at the expense of Maximilian Arnold.
Hoffenheim with quick combinations
VfL began playing out from a stable defensive unit, whilst TSG were initially the notably more active of the two sides, getting forward with determination and ultimately taking a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute. Schulz was perfectly placed at the back post to sink the ball in the back of the net. The hosts remained the more alert, playing many diagonal cross-field balls and looking to cause problems down the flanks. In the 32nd minute, the frame of the goal came to the rescue of the Green-Whites, as Gnabry’s direct volley crashed away off the crossbar. Just minutes later, the unmarked Gnabry turned a flying header on goal, but Paul Verhaegh was well-placed to clear off the line (34'). Shortly before the break, Labbadia made an alteration in the VfL attack, replacing Belgian striker Divock Origi with Brekalo (42').
Get well soon, Josip
With both sides having made changes just before the half-time break, there were no further substitutions made for the re-start – until the 54th minute. Brekalo collided haplessly with Eugen Polanski and required treatment, but was ultimately unable to continue. The Croatian was duly replaced by Nany Dimata. The Wolves were again forced to re-shuffle their pack and initially gained more of the possession, although without causing a genuine threat on goal. Chasing the game, Labbadia dissolved his back-four and switched to a three-man defensive line. And then the chance to equalise presented itself: Malli delivered a powerful cross from the right wing to the centre, where Dimata was unable to make a connection and Daniel Didavi arrived too late at the back post – sliding the ball into the side-netting (71'). Shortly after, Malli missed the chance to level the scores from five meters out. Ironically, during a phase in which the Green-Whites were looking stronger, TSG doubled their advantage. Substitute Mark Uth took possession on the right wing and played a pass into the box for Gnabry. The German international steadied himself and fired low into the bottom right corner, to make it 2-0 (77'). Things then took a further turn for the worse for the Green-Whites. Gnabry delivered a cross into the box, where Robin Knoche’s attempt to clear struck the knee of Guilavogui and was deflected unstoppably past Casteels into the back of the net (80'). The score-line of 3-0 was the second home result with the same score-line in succession for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim against VfL Wolfsburg.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim: Baumann – Akpoguma, Vogt, Hübner – Kaderabek, Rupp, Grillitsch (78' Amiri), Geiger (43' Polanski), Schulz – Gnabry, Kramaric (66' Uth)
VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels – Verhaegh, Bruma, Knoche, Rexhbecaj – Guilavogui, Bazoer – Mehmedi, Didavi, Malli (82' Steffen) – Origi (42' Brekalo, 54' Dimata)
Goals: 1-0 Schulz (18'), 2-0 Gnabry (77'), 3-0 Guilavogui (80',own goal)
Yellow cards: Polanski / Bruma
Referee: Manuel Gräfe (Berlin)