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Sports

Bundesliga: Lack of fire-power costing Hoffenheim

Creating chances is no problem for Hoffenheim, it's just putting those chances on the scoreboard that has left them second-bottom of the Bundesliga table. A relegation battle now looks certain in 2016.

Schalke 1-0 Hoffenheim

(Choupo-Moting 28‘)

It was a game that was there for the taking. A game that, for a team now sure to be fighting relegation come the second half of the season, could make a difference come the end of the season. For Huub Stevens' Hoffenheim side, positives can be taken from this frustrating defeat, but one particular negative stands out from the rest.

At this stage last season, Hoffenheim had amassed 29 goals and were sat comfortably in seventh place. Compared to the 17 goals they have collected this season, leaving them waning in seventeenth place. The season before last, the Sinsheim-club were the Bundesliga's entertainment package as they ended the season scoring 72 goals, but also conceding 70. Two years on, and the struggle to find a goalscorer has become a real issue.

Hoffenheim have only managed to score more than one goal in a Bundesliga game three times this season, winning just one of those. Six games from the 17 played so far without scoring means they are the fourth lowest scorers in the Bundesliga, but not for the want of trying.

Chances were created in mass at the Veltins Arena on Friday night, with the away side actually providing more shots on goal (18) than the home team (16), with Eduardo Vargas (4) having the most of any player in the game. None of the Chilean's efforts - which all came from inside Ralf Fährmann's box - were on target though, and with the club's top scorer - Kevin Volland - coming on from the bench early in the second half, the clear sign of a reliance on the German international is worrying to see.

What will have frustrated the away side the most, though, is the way Schalke earned their win. A deep cross from Johannes Geis drifted towards Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting and Pavel Kaderabek battling at the back-post. The ball curled in-between the legs of the Hoffenheim right-back and bounced off the toe of Schalke's Cameroonian forward to beat Oliver Baumann. The sort of goal you only score when you're near the top of the table.

The departures of Anthony Modeste and Roberto Firmino in the summer were not completely replaced. While Vargas, Jonathan Schmid and Kevin Kuranyi came in to bolster the attack, the goals of the exiting players (seven each for Modeste and Firmino) have yet to be replaced. Just nine players have scored for Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga this season, and only three of those have scored more than once.

For Stevens, the opportunity to now take his team away and work hard on providing the best chance to survive in the second half of the season could prove vital. But even for the Bundesliga's notorious relegation expert, without another source of goals, the task may even be too much. As the saying goes, the hardest part of football is getting the ball in the back of the next: and don't Hoffenheim know it.

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