Coach Pellegrino Matarazzo successful with Hoffenheim

Coach Pellegrino Matarazzo successful with Hoffenheim

Gpraise the players. So Pellegrino Matarazzo hugged each of his pros warmly and without any ego gestures. The coach of TSG 1899 Hoffenheim celebrated his team, which after five months without a Bundesliga win had finally won again, and in a convincing way. 3-1 against Hertha BSC thanks to two penalties from their Croatian star Andrei Kramaric (24th/37th minute) and another goal from attacker Ihlas Bebou (51st), who triumphed like he was winged, in a goal conceded by Stevan Jovetic (90th + 2).

The Berliners didn’t even hurt Hoffenheim when Hoffenheim striker Munas Dabbur, who had come on as a substitute 86 seconds earlier, rushed into Dodi Lukebakio’s calf from behind with his cleats in front and had to leave promptly when referee Frank Willenborg drew a red card ( 71.). The weakest team in the league away from home, which increased its series to eight consecutive defeats with a weak performance on Saturday in Sinsheim, simply couldn’t get back on its feet.

No problem for Hoffenheim, who now suspect, above all their 45-year-old American soccer coach, that this long-awaited sense of achievement after fourteen unsuccessful attempts with twelve defeats and two draws could also have been a turning point for the better. Also for Matarazzo, who after nine attempts without a win as head coach of the VfB Stuttgart had been released and started his Hoffenheim mission on February 11 – with five defeats en suite.

Noticeably strengthened self-image

No wonder, then, that before the duel with the also deeply sunk Hertha there had been speculation as to whether there would be an ultimatum for Matarrazo, who was used to success, according to the motto win or fly. The visibly relieved Alexander Rosen, Hoffenheim’s director of professional football, denied this after TSG’s first win under the new coach. “Because we see that connection work, because we see how the guys work.”

The signals that came from the group of relieved players on Saturday also pointed to an alliance between them and Matarrazo, who, as a former student of applied mathematics at Columbia University in New York, is characterized by a predictability that his unsettled team after five weeks full of futile attempts finally got a firm footing. Austria’s Christoph Baumgartner, one of TSG’s creative driving forces, praised his coach on Saturday. “Today everyone saw what we think of the coach. The team is behind him one hundred percent.” After a self-image that had been noticeably strengthened recently in the narrow defeats against Borussia Dortmund and SC Freiburg, she finally played with the determination that the relegation battle demands of the teams involved week after week.

Christoph Baumgartner is positive about coach Matarazzo.

Christoph Baumgartner is positive about coach Matarazzo.

Image: Reuters

Matarrazo brings a number of qualities to his mission that could help stabilize the Kraichgauer, who advanced from 18th to 15th place on Saturday. The 1.98 meter long foreman with Italian family roots keeps an overview even under the most difficult circumstances and, with his empathetic way of never overdoing himself, takes his players on the long journey from the darkness of the table back into the light. “I feel that we work well together,” he said humbly on Saturday.

This sense of togetherness has been strengthened by the sense of achievement that has been longed for for weeks and months, because for the first time in a long time it has become clear how much potential there is in this strong team, which has also learned under Matarazzo to stand up to the circumstances and adversities of the to defend against relegation in this Bundesliga location, which has not yet been fought often. There it was for Matarazzo, who between 2017 and 2019 changed the situation in Hoffenheim as a former coach of the U17s and assistant coach under Julian Nagelsmann, it was easy to fit into the revived team spirit of TSG. “I feel good,” said the coach, who doesn’t want to make a fuss, “like any player after the win. This is completely normal.”

He kept his own plans in mind for those who had expected his replacement. “Here,” he said, “it’s far from over for me, I still have a lot to do.” Pellegrino Matarazzo spoke about himself at least once after this victory, which was also very important for him. But he was entitled to do so.

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