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    HomeSportsThe Bundesliga’s injury-time idiots

    The Bundesliga’s injury-time idiots


    Football Germany is watching VfL Bochum. For the third time this season, VfL has given up a lead in the Ruhrstadion in injury time. In Bochum, people are no longer talking about a “coincidence” – and are afraid that history will become a pattern.

    “I screwed up!” Bochum's coach Thomas Letsch didn't mince his words after the third defeat in the Ruhrstadion in injury time. An admission that deserves respect, because it is anything but self-evident in the tough and rarely honest Bundesliga business – but in the end it was almost inevitable. Because a large number of home fans and independent observers of VfL Bochum's game against FC Augsburg on Saturday had taken note of his substitutions and tactical changes with a shake of the head and great incomprehension.

    In the end, the VfL coach's decisions indirectly led to the Fuggerstadt team's 1:1 equaliser in the 90th +1 minute from a penalty after a previous handball by Bochum's Ivan Ordets. Coach Letsch correctly assessed his mistake after the game: “Looking back, it would have been better to stick to our structure and put the opponent under pressure further up front. I certainly wouldn't do that again. That's why I take the three points that we didn't win entirely on my own shoulders, because the decisions I made were too defensive.”

    “Certainly no coincidence”

    “I will learn a lot from the game,” he added, and then had to talk about a topic that is now of great interest to more than just football fans in Bochum. VfL has managed to throw away a lead in injury time in their home Ruhrstadion for the third time this season. After the matches against the teams of FSV Mainz 05 and SV Werder Bremen, FC Augsburg also managed to give Bochum a lucky punch in the minutes after regular time and take home a point. The nation's injury time idiots keep depriving themselves of victory and three well-deserved points with their obvious vice.

    But while coach Thomas Letsch (“That is definitely a weakness that we have to work on”) does not yet believe that the acute problem will become a regular occurrence, his midfielder Patrick Osterhage speaks plainly: “In the end, we can no longer put it down to chance if it happens for the third time.” And VfL Bochum's sports director, Marc Lettau, also sees a pattern in the frequency of the same event: “This is a story that repeats itself. It is certainly not a coincidence and is therefore absolutely unsatisfactory.” Now there is fear in Bochum that the issue will take on a life of its own and become a permanent problem.

    Bochum are still trying to resolve the matter in the simplest way possible – as Patrick Osterhage says: “Create chances, play better, hold onto the ball and gain more control of the game. Then we can see a game like this through and win” – but VfL seems to have lost some of its faith after the third setback in a very short space of time. Because solving the problem by simply scoring more goals is not so easy given Bochum's serious weakness in finishing. And so VfL are not only mourning the missed chances on the pitch, but also the six points they gave away in injury time – with which Bochum would currently be in eighth place in the Bundesliga table and very close to their goal of staying in the league.

    The role model from the neighborhood

    Perhaps VfL coach Thomas Letsch should take a look at a local club. The Rot-Weiss Essen team scored their fifth goal after the 90th minute in their 4:3 win against SC Freiburg II on Saturday. The Essen team is always wide awake, especially in the final minutes of the game. It would certainly be interesting for Bochum to know how the RWE pros do it. But perhaps it is simply the case that, unlike the VfL players, they have nothing to lose in these situations.

    In Bochum, the fans are now hoping that Thomas Letsch, as he himself announced, has learned a lot from the game and that the stoppage-time idiots will soon become the Bundesliga's heroes to avoid relegation. Nine more points, in addition to the 21 already won, should in all probability be enough to achieve the goal of staying in the league this season. The fans will not care how they are won in the end. And there is indeed reason for hope: the two blows against Mainz and Bremen have not thrown the team off course. So it is safe to assume that VfL Bochum will also be able to cope with the third blow in stoppage-time. Even if it is currently still hurting the VfL soul.

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