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15:30 Kickoffs:
Frankfurt and Leipzig drop points, Heidenheim pull off surprise win over Bremen

By Peter Weis   @PeterVicey

Widespread fan protests in arenas across the Bundesrepublik have once again prevented all of the Bundesliga's 15:30 kickoffs from finishing at the same time. Only four of the five simultaneous fixtures have concluded as of this piece's filing. 

Frank Schmidt's 1. FC Heidenheim presently stand as the only top flight club to emerge victorious. Frankfurt, Leipzig, and Gladbach all drew respective opponents Bochum, Augsburg, and Darmstadt. 
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Photo: Biso, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0
Dino Toppmöller's Eintracht Frankfurt have followed up their disappointing trip to Köln last week with a 1-1 draw against VfL Bochum in their home stadium. Thomas Letsch's Revierklub came to town on Saturday afternoon and nicked a point off a RheinMain squad devastated by injuries both before and after kickoff. As has been the case for several weeks, widespread fan protests in stadiums across the Bundesrepublik prevented all of the concurrent 15:30 kickoffs from concluding at the same time. One fixture (Union-Wolfsburg) is still ongoing as of this filing.


SGE trainer Toppmöller made a whopping six changes to the XI that suffered a shock defeat away at Köln last weekend. Defender Tuta and wingback Niels Nkounkou both had to sit the encounter out after being sent off the pitch on red cards in the round 20 defeat. Nkounkou's counterpart on the right wing Eric Junior Dina Ebimbe had to pass with muscular problems while striker Sasa Kalajdzic left the team to attend to the birth of his child. Keeper Kevin Trapp also injured himself in warm-ups.  Defender Hrvoje Smolicic was the only member of the squad removed for performance based reasons.

Recently returned from AFCON Egyptian striker Omar Marmoush took Kalajdzic's place up front. Aurelio Buta, Willian Pacho, Philipp Max, and Fares Chaibi rotated into the starting lineup. Jens Grahl took Trapp's place. Toppmöller's previously deployed awkward 4-4-2 turned into a more straightforward 4-2-2-2. Bochum trainer Letsch made just two changes to the XI that drew Augsburg last week. Keven Schlotterbeck took Erhan Masovic's place in central defense. Japanese international Takuma Asano - also recently returned from international duty - replace Christopher Antwi-Adjei on the wing.

The match got off to a lively start with both teams swapping quality chances in the opening ten minutes. The hosting Hessians were able to get quite a bit of traction on the newly resurgent Max's left-hand-side. The first major chance of the game nevertheless belonged to VfL attacker Matus Bero, who shot wide from close-range in the 13th. One minute later, however, Marmoush netted the 1-0 in his first match back in Toppmöller's starting lineup. The SGE's leading goal-scorer rounded VfL keeper Manuel Riemann with aplomb following some nice set-up work from Chaibi and Mario Götze.

The response from the guests wasn't long in forthcoming. Bochum lead striker Moritiz Borschinski duped Eintracht defender Robin Koch with a nifty shimmy move in the 17th. The former BVB reserve striker then supplied a powerful finish. Frankfurt back-up keeper Grahl found himself powerless to stop the effort after it took a deflection off Pacho. Matters calmed down somewhat after the 1-1, both both sides were able to still run competent attack charges. The visiting Westphalians produced the slightly better chances as the teams went into the tunnel with the score still deadlocked.

Eintracht emerged from the dressing room the more energetic side, but Marmoush twice missed chances to restore the lead. At the other end, Asano supplied SGE net-minder Grahl with a pair of halfway decent efforts. To the delight of German football lovers, new Eintracht star acquisition Hugo Ekitike entered for Marmoush shortly after the hours mark. The French phenom created his first bit of danger in the 67th with a fine cross into the box for Chaibi. The Algerian unfortunately took too long to finish and the hosts missed out on another opportunity to take the lead.


Another Frankfurt sub, Donny van de Beek (on for an inured Hugo Larsson), found his effort blocked seconds later. These fireworks essentially constituted the end of the chances for the hosts. The match flattened out as Bochum forced Eintracht into a more defensive posture. Injuries, fouls, and stoppages impeded flow over the course of the final 20 minutes. Van de Beek was regrettably one of the SGE wounded unable to continue. The Manchester United loanee had to be subbed off in the 84th; the second one of Toppmöller's crew to have to exit the match hurt.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga's 15:30 kickoffs, Leipzig and Augsburg also fought to a 2-2 draw at the WWK Arena. The underachieving for Marco Rose's German Red Bulls continues after a 2-0 win over Union Berlin last Sunday enabled them to snap a three-match losing skid. The Saxons squandered a 2-1 lead with some shoddy defending. Striker Loïs Openda then fluffed the chance to deliver his side all three points with a miss from the penalty spot nine minutes from time. Leipzig now sit three points away from a top-four place following Dortmund's win last night.

A match delayed for nearly twenty minutes by the "tennis ball" protests from German ultra groups also ended in a draw. There would be no goals at all in a fixture between Gladbach and Darmstadt at Borussia Park. The goals came thick and fast at the Weserstadion during Heidenheim's visit to Bremen. Lennard Maloney and Jan-Niklas Beste put the visiting promoted side ahead with a 2-0 lead inside of 18 minutes. Marvin Ducksch quickly pulled a goal back for the hosts, but Frank Schmidt's FCH still prevailed with a 2-1 victory.



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