Even before the game it was obvious to Hoffenheim that Kaiserslautern would be tough opponents. The Red Devils' last 13 home games have led to just one defeat, and today went along with their usual style of being tough to tackle at the Fritz-Walter-Stadion.
Rangnick, head coach of Hoffenheim, felt no urge to change his stating line up from the one that has, until now, resulted in three wins on the bounce. Yet he was forced into one change - Tom Starke in goal pulled a muscle in the warm-up and had to be replaced by Daniel Haas. Marvin Commper, assumed to be doubtful by many, kept his place in defence, with Simunic and Vorsah the partners at the heart of the back four. Andreas Beck, the captain, retained his usual place on the right, with Compper on the left. Gustavo, Salihovic and Weis made up the midfield, while Ibisevic, Mlapa and Ba made it an attacking 4-3-3 formation for the guests.
Gustavo's first 1899 goal
From the off it proved to be a spicy encounter, yet it was the visitors who made the more positive start. After just a few minutes it was Gustavo with an early effort, but the referee ruled out his goalbound chance for handball. It stayed much this way for the first ten minutes - the visitor's enjoying a lot of possession and the hosts trying to keep it tight at the back. Then the hosts woke up, and started pressuring Haas in the Hoffenheim goal. The Red Devils' style of play was to go down the wings and target the visitor's full backs Beck and Compper - but to no great success.
Indeed the first goal of the game went to Hoffenheim, and it was to be Luiz Gustavo who netted his first for the club. Ba played the ball into the box for Gustavo to poke home from just a few yards.
Touch of genius by Rangnick
Both teams emerged from the break unchanged, and it was the home side who had the first decent effort on goal in the second half, from which they converted to make the score 1:1, Erwin Hoffer with the goal. And it was he again who scored the game's third goal, and, crucially, the goal to put the home side in the ascendency. In the 75th minute Hoffer was on hand to put the ball into the back of the visitor's net following something of a goal-line scramble involving numerous players. Yet the Hoffenheimer's heads didn't drop despite needing another goal just to take a point from the match. Step up Gylfi Sigurdsson. He had been brought onto the field by Rangnick with a little over ten minutes to play and from a 20-yard free kick the new signing from Reading FC stepped up to score a beauty. Thanks to the decision of head coach Ralf Rangnick 1899 Hoffenheim remain unbeaten after four Bundesliga games and can be pleased with another good afternoon's football.