TSG finish third at Telekom Cup

TSG Hoffenheim finished third in their first ever Telekom Cup on Saturday. Julian Nagelsmann's side were beaten 1-0 by FC Bayern in the semi-final at Borussia Park, before beating the hosts Borussia Mönchengladbach on penalties in the third-placed play-off.

Hoffenheim travelled to Mönchengladbach without the injured Oliver Baumann and Andrej Kramaric, as well as the six players involved with their respective Germany teams this summer, with Sandro Wagner, Kerem Demirbay, Nadiem Amiri, Jeremy Toljan, Dennis Geiger and Robin Hack still on holiday.

Hosts Gladbach and Bremen opened the Telekom Cup with the day’s first semi-final, which finished goalless after the allotted 45 minutes. Werder won the subsequent penalty shootout to claim their place in the final. They would be joined by either FC Bayern or Julian Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim, who started with Gregor Kobel in goal, while Kevin Vogt, Justin Hoogma and Havard Nordtveit made up a back three. Pavel Kaderabek and Nico Schulz took up the wide positions, with the midfield five completed by Eugen Polanski, Lukas Rupp and Robert Zulj. Adam Szalai and Mark Uth led the line. Meris Skenderovic, U23 player Simon Lorenz and back-up keeper Alexander Stolz were on the bench for the opening game. “It’s a great pre-season event,” said head coach Nagelsmann ahead of his side’s meeting with FCB. “We’re delighted that we have the chance to test ourselves against Bundesliga opposition at this stage and want to try and execute our own game plan.”

However, it was Bayern’s Thomas Müller & Co. who dictated proceedings from the get-go. The record German champions quickly applied pressure and found themselves 1-0 ahead after only seven minutes courtesy of an acrobatic Robert Lewandowski volley. TSG struggled to get out of their own half, and Bayern could have found themselves two goals to the good just short of the half-hour mark, but Thiago’s header was denied by the post. Hoffenheim also had to rely on two fantastic saves from Kobel, first against Franck Ribéry and then from Corentin Tolisso, to keep the score at 1-0, and that’s how it stayed after a difficult 45 minutes for the Kraichgau club.

Third-place play-off against Borussia

Eleven new faces started the almost immediate third-place play-off against Borussia Mönchengladbach, sporting TSG’s brand-new alternate kit. Ermin Bicakcic, Benjamin Hüber and Fabian Schär lined up in front of Alexander Stolz in goal, Steven Zuber, Florian Grillitsch, Philipp Ochs and Stefan Posch formed a midfield four, while the three-pronged attack featured Mark Uth Marco Terrazzino and U23s player Nicolas Wähling. Uth was replaced by Skenderovic after 18 minutes.

It was the hosts who had the first good opportunity, with Stolz just about able to turn Raffael’s free kick over the crossbar. Hoffenheim unsurprisingly were enjoying more of the ball against Gladbach than against Bayern and Uth had a decent opportunity to grab their opening goal, but Tobias Sippel denied him. Terrazzino suffered the same fate in the 17th minute after an impressive surge through the Foals’ defence. Much like Kobel in the semi-final, Stolz was putting in a solid performance for TSG in the third-place play-off, and made a stunning stop one-on-one with Patrick Herrmann to keep the scores level going into the half-hour mark. With the tie leveled at full time, the match went to a shootout. 

Schär, Ochs, Zuber, Terrazzino, Posch and Bicakcic were TSG's chosen penalty takers and all five converted, as did Gladbach's initial takers. Borussia's Florian Mayer then saw his spot kick saved by Alex Stolz. TSG's number six Bikakcic then stepped up to slot home the winning penalty to seal third place. "It's nice to put it away," said Bickacic after the match. "Our game against Gladbach was good, and overall today's matches were good tests for us, even if we were a little tired." 


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