TSG Hoffenheim crashed out of the Europa League round of 32 on Thursday by virtue of losing 2-0 to Norwegian side Molde FK. Hoffenheim lost 5-3 on total aggregate having drawn the first leg 3-3 at a neutral venue in Villareal, Spain.
Despite dominating proceedings in nearly every statistical department except goals scored on Thursday night in Sinsheim, Sebastian Hoeness’s men came up short. Erik Ulland Andersen was at the double for Molde FK and his first goal travelled through a number of Hoffenheim bodies en route to befuddling Oliver Baumann and his second goal came in the last minute of stoppage time when Hoffenheim were desperately pressing for a goal. Andersen’s strikes were the only two on target for Molde and they only tallied a total of three shots altogether, dwarfing in comparison to Hoffenheim’s 27 shots and nine on target. Speaking after the match, Hoeness was justifiably disappointed with the result and exiting the Europa League much earlier than he would’ve liked (kicker).
“A very deep opponent with an, unfortunately, very good goalkeeper and a strong central defender who cleared away a lot,” was how Hoeness described Molde after the final whistle had gone. It was clear that their game plan was to sit in deep and wait for their opportunities to pounce on the counter.
Despite being knocked out even with statistically outperforming their opponents, Hoeness stressed that his side will not play the victim and vowed that they will take this setback in stride.
“It cannot be an option to somehow hide away, to expect pity or to fall into the role of victim. We are not and never have been. Despite the one or the other blow in the neck, we got up again and again, and we will do that this time, too. We are not victims, we must quickly realize that it was our responsibility,” he explained.
Hoeness also said he feels that being knocked out of European competition shouldn’t effect the overall assessment of how he’s done at Hoffenheim thus far since joining from Bayern Munich’s reserve team. In that respect, he’s not too worried: “That is not relevant to me right now and has no place in my thoughts. It was bitter that it came about, but the result is still there. We can’t change that, we can change the future, that’s what I’m dealing with.”
Of course, life at Hoffenheim hasn’t been made an easier for Hoeness with the amount of injuries to the squad that he’s faced. Hoeness has really had to tap into the full depth of his squad, which was part of the reason why he was able to convince Bayern Munich of a loan spell for Chris Richards in Sinsheim, who’s been directly inserted into the starting lineup, and to positive effect.
“Of course you have to speak of a messed up season because of all the setbacks and impassability that there have been,” Hoeness said of the roadblocks he’s already faced since becoming manager of Hoffenheim. Rest assured, he will do everything in his power to get Hoffenheim back into the top half of the Bundesliga table and finish the season strongly.