When Hoffenheim beat Mainz on matchday 6 they were level on points with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, but nobody could foresee that they would have to wait 17 matches until their next win. A dire run saw Andre Breitenreiter sacked and Pellegrino Matarazzo installed. Nothing changed and a run of 11 defeats in 12 successive games brought the threat of relegation scarily close.
The Sinsheimer have stopped the rot and turned things around with the goals of veteran striker Andrej Kramarić a key factor in TSG’s redemption. The fight against the drop is not over, but if the Croatian keeps firing, the club should be safe for another year.
Kramarić has been the club’s leading Bundesliga goalscorer in five of his six full seasons so it stans to reason that he would be the man to dig them out of the hole they found themselves in. The matchday 25 crunch clash with Hertha Berlin at the Pre-Zero Arena was decided in Hoffenheim’s favour largely by two first half penalties dispatched by their talismanic striker.
The following match saw him head home the opener in Hoffenheim’s 2-1 win at the Weser Stadion over Werder Bremen and although he remained scoreless in the 2-0 win over Schalke, he was back to grabbing the headlines this past weekend as his stunning free-kick saw Bayern denied a much-needed win at the Allianz Arena.
With Hoffenheim trailing in the second half to Benjamin Pavard’s opener, Kramarić used all his cunning to first win a dangerous free-kick and then to dispatch the set-piece with acute skill.
“It was a bit of a dive from me” the striker admitted after the final whistle. “I think Thomas [Müller] knows how football works. If you feel a little contact in the dangerous area, then you know there’s an opportunity for a goal. I was smart and clever. I had to fall.”
Once on his feet he settled himself before calmly curling the ball with his right-foot up and over the Bayern defensive wall and past Yann Sommer in off the post.
“We went to Munich and dreamed of coming away with something” the striker explained after the game. “It was a difficult match. Bayern Munich are one of the best teams in the world. We were considerably better in the second half and produced a super performance. We gave away little and knew that we would get our chance. I’m ecstatic about my goal. We even had a counter and perhaps could have scored a second goal.
“But when you’re playing in Munich, you can be satisfied with a point. The most important thing was that we didn’t concede any more goals. You need some luck in Munich, we had that.
Four goals in four games for Kramarić has seen Hoffenheim inch clear of the drop zone and a few more from their number one goal-getter and the nerves will be settles once and for all in Sinsheim.