On Bundesliga Matchday 23, Borussia Dortmund fell to a 3-2 home defeat to TSG Hoffenheim, despite taking a 2-1 lead into half-time, and thus suffered their first defeat in their seventh league game of 2024.

Boris Rupert reports

After just 99 seconds, Ihlas Bebou scored the opener to give the away side a 1-0 lead, but then BVB quickly set about the task of reeling in their guests in front of 81,365 fans in the sold-out SIGNAL IDUNA PARK and led 2-1 at half-time. In fact, there were just 25 minutes on the referee's watch when two set-piece goals from Donyell Malen and Nico Schlotterbeck had turned the game on its head and given the hosts a 2-1 lead. But Hoffenheim refused to lie down, and also scored a quickfire double, Maximilian Beier bagging a brace, with goals in the 61st and 64th minutes to first draw TSG level before giving them the 3-2 lead they would hang on to until the final whistle.

The scenario:  
Dortmund started the day in fourth in the league with 41 points, while Hoffenheim were ninth on 27 points, having gone eight games without a win. With the 3-1 victory in the reverse fixture and the 1-0 win in the DFB-Pokal, BVB had extended their winning run against TSG to six consecutive wins.

Personnel matters:
Kobel (muscle injury), Haller (ankle injury), Nmecha (soon to return to team training after a hip injury) and Süle (infection) were not available. There was one change to the BVB starting 11 that took to the field in Eindhoven for the 1-1 draw five days ago, with Brandt taking Hummels' place on the team sheet as the defender was not fit for 90 minutes due to a slight illness.

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Tactics:   

BVB lined up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation, but this time without the left back and one of the two defensive midfielders switching positions during the build-up play. Maatsen therefore remained on the left-hand side throughout, and Brandt and Sabitzer set up in a double pivot, with Sancho and Malen swapping sides in attacking midfield compared with Eindhoven, the former playing primarily down the right today, while the Dutchman operated on the left. Hoffenheim set up in a back-five without the ball, switching to a 3-4-3 formation in possession – with Kramaric sometimes slotting in the middle of the front line, and at times operating behind the two strikers.

The match & analysis:
A mistake in the reshuffled BVB back line put the Black & Yellows behind early on. Schlotterbeck and Can got their wires crossed in their own penalty area, allowing Bebou to nip in between and fire the ball past Meyer into the bottom corner from quite a sharp angle with just 99 seconds on the referee's watch.

BVB looked to respond immediately. Just four minutes later, Brandt floated in a flat delivery from a corner, finding Sabitzer in space at the far post. The Austrian looked to place his finish at the near post, but Baumann got across in time, turning the ball around the post for another BVB corner, which came to nothing. But it was another set piece situation that led to their next chance: Sabitzer took aim from the inside left with a free-kick from 25 metres out, and the swerve on the ball caused Baumann problems in just the 9th minute, but the TSG man did enough to preserve his side's lead. Once again in the 20th minute, there was no beating the Hoffenheim keeper: Malen latched on to Sabitzer's pass and fired a low shot towards the far corner without breaking stride from 14 metres out, but Baumann got down quickly and made the save.

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And it was two more set-piece situations that allowed the Black & Yellows to turn the game on its head in the space of four minutes: first, Reus flicked on a Brandt corner with his head, and Malen slotted home from inside the six-yard box in the 21st minute. Then Reus hit a free-kick from the right wing, picking out the head of Schlotterbeck, who rose highest to power home a header from the six-yard line on 25 minutes and give the home side a 2-1 lead. After that, the game quietened down considerably. BVB controlled proceedings, but they did not add to their tally of 11 shots on goal (Hoffenheim: two) before the half-time whistle.

Despite having clearly dominated the first 45 minutes, BVB struggled to get going after the break, with neither side able to string together a meaningful number of passes. In addition, there were a number of interruptions due to injury. With exactly one hour on the clock, Füllkrug lost the ball in the Hoffenheim penalty area, and TSG countered at lightning-fast pace. Grillitsch found Beier, who sprinted over half the pitch before moving in on goal. His shot struck Schlotterbeck, and the ball deflected viciously off the BVB defender's hip, giving Meyer no chance and restoring parity at 2-2 in the 61st minute. The next loss of the ball shortly afterwards was punished instantly and once again the hosts found themselves behind. Grillitsch found Stach from the inside right, who, having made his way into the penalty area, got his head up and spotted Beier, who had kept up with the play. The TSG man got in front of Ryerson in the middle and slotted home to make it 3-2 to the away side on 64 minutes.

After a corner, Reus was denied by Baumann from an acute angle in the 70th minute, before Füllkrug fired wide with his last kick of the game with 15 minutes remaining. That prompted a triple change from Terzic, who sent on three new attackers: Moukoko, Bynoe-Gittens and Adeyemi. In the 82nd minute, a clear handball by Grillitsch was inexplicably not punished as BVB were harshly denied a penalty, and Can spurned Dortmund's last chance when he headed over the bar in injury time.

Outlook: 
Next Saturday (kick-off: 15:30 CET), BVB will travel to play 1. FC Union Berlin.

Teams & goals

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Football Bundesliga, Matchday 23
BORUSSIA DORTMUND – TSG HOFFENHEIM 2-3 (2-1)

Bor. Dortmund: Meyer – Ryerson (Hummels, 79), Can, Schlotterbeck, Maatsen (Bynoe-Gittens, 75) – Brandt, Sabitzer – Sancho (Adeyemi, 75), Reus (Duranville. 87), Malen – Füllkrug (Moukoko, 75)
TSG Hoffenheim: Baumann – Kabak, Grillitsch, Brooks – Kaderabek, Stach, Tohumcu (Becker, 79), Skov (Jurasek, 49) – Kramaric (Geiger. 68) – Bebou (Weghorst, 79), Beier (Bülter. 79)
Bench: Lotka, Bensebaini, Özcan, Wolf – Philipp, Adams, Drexler, Moerstedt
Goals: 0-1 Bebou (2), 1-1 Malen (21, Reus), 2-1 Schlotterbeck (25, Reus), 2-2 Beier (61, Grillitsch), 2-3 Beier (64, Stach)
Corners: 10-3 (half-time: 6-1), Chances: 7-4 (5-2)
Referee: Fritz (Korb), Yellow cards: Sabitzer, Malen – Tohumcu, Brooks, Geiger
Attendance: 81,365 (sold-out), Weather: dry, 9 degrees