SPIELFELD
01.02.2019

#TSGMCI: 87 magnificent minutes

TSG Hoffenheim might have lost their first-ever UEFA Champions League home game 2-1 (1-1) against English champions Manchester City, but they garnered praise and recognition for a captivating football match.

Following the recent spectacle in which the stadium glistened and roared, peace and tranquillity were finally restored. Individual employees cleaned the vacated seats inside and pensively took a look onto the pitch where the traces of the high-intensity tactical duel were still to be detected. It was certainly more peaceful than the goings-on inside the heads of the arena's protagonists. The synapses firing around during those moments ensured that the audience inside the stadium had been impressed and animated, yet they ultimately left disappointed: David Silva stole the ball from Stefan Posch in the penalty area in the 87th minute and fired it to the back of the net, altering the scoreline to 2-1 and allowing Manchester City to snatch victory. Those defeated had also achieved victory on that historic evening because players, opponents, experts and fans alike had become irrevocably aware that TSG Hoffenheim had arrived on the largest stage of club football.

The club's inauguration as a now recognised member of the exclusive circle was witnessed by 24,851 spectators, in the sold-out WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena, as well as millions of viewers worldwide sitting in front of their TV sets. Amongst those watching was Pep Guardiola - currently the best coach in the world. After the game, when the two coaches crossed paths, he hugged Julian Nagelsmann and a little later on they met again in the stadium's corridors. They talked shop, whilst discussing and gesticulating running paths and passing possibilities with outstretched fingers and hand gestures in the air. Presumably, the Spaniard emphasised once again during the conversation, what he had previously publicly disclosed, "This was the first time that I have played against Julian Nagelsmann, but I learned a lot today, he thinks a lot about the game, he has visions and is creative. We will have to be careful in the second leg, congratulations to him and his team, despite having so many absent players."

Although Julian Nagelsmann was annoyed by the late defeat, he was still proud of his team's performance: "Tactically, it was a very good performance for us. Manchester got more out of the game, but not everything. Of course, City has a lot to offer and have tremendously good pace. Nevertheless, we created six or seven situations that could have been extremely dangerous. Despite ten absentees, we created enough opportunities to score more goals against a world-class team. That is something that we can build on."

Ahead after 44 seconds

The two minds battling against each other on the sidelines provided us with everything that it had promised. Both managers were constantly directing their players, continuously attacking with varying formations and responding accordingly to the other team's chess-like moves with new feints. The outcome was by no means just an attraction for expert tactic enthusiasts - both teams played unbridled football and caused waves of adrenaline rushes in the stands. Even more astoundingly, it took only 44 seconds until history was made: Ishak Belfodil scored first to guide TSG Hoffenheim into the lead against Manchester City, which was the first Hoffenheim home goal of the Champions League and simultaneously accounted for the shock on the disbelieving faces supporting the most expensive squad in the footballing world.

Emotionless faces and hanging heads were the result of the fact that Manchester managed to impose themselves on a TSG squad, short of ten men, in the final moments of the game through goals from Agüero (8') and namely Silva (87') to give them their first victory in Group F. It didn't take long for the grief to subside when thinking of the bigger picture, of the 87 magnificent minutes of an outstanding performance. "We are a small club and we played against one of the biggest clubs in the world. It's sad that we weren't able to take a point home in the end, but it's not easy to play against those kinds of players. We played really well over 90 minutes. We shouldn't be proud of the score, but we should be proud of our performance," said Kerem Demirbay. 

 

 

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