The likes of Manuel Riemann and Milos Pantovic are giving Bochum every chance of avoiding an immediate return to Germany's second tier.
bundesliga.com checks in with last season's Bundesliga 2 champions, at the halfway point in 2021/22...
The story so far
Returning to the top flight after an 11-year absence, Bochum have held their own for much of the campaign. The Ruhr outfit have claimed 14 of their 20 points at on home soil, where Thomas Reis's well-drilled unit have accounted for Mainz, Eintracht Frankfurt, Hoffenheim and Freiburg - and drawn with regional neighbours Borussia Dortmund. More encouragingly still, with the exception of a chastening 7-0 defeat away to record champions Bayern Munich, they've only lost by more than one goal twice. As a result, VfL winter in at 12th, with a three-point cushion on the relegation play-off spot.
Sebastian Polter deserves a huge slice of credit for supplying the goals in the absence of injured striker Simon Zoller, but Manuel Riemann arguably takes more of the plaudits for keeping them out. Only three goalkeepers league wide have recorded more than his five clean sheets - Manuel Neuer among them - while he sits second in the saves ratio department (73.9 percent) - all of which translates into priceless gains for Bochum. The only blot to the Riemann copy book was his missed penalty - no, your eyes do not deceive you - against Hoffenheim.
Best game so far
Around 13,000 fans were in attendance for Bochum’s first Bundesliga home game since May 2010 on Matchday 2. They had much to celebrate as Polter followed up Gerrit Holtmann's Lionel Messi-esque solo goal to seal a 2-0 win over Mainz - their first at Germany's top table in over a decade.
Watch: Bochum 2-0 Mainz - highlights
One to watch
A product of the Bayern youth system, Milos Pantovic made headlines with his goal from halfway against Hoffenheim on Matchday 11. The 25-year-old repeated the trick a fortnight later in a 2-1 triumph at home to third-placed Freiburg, despite only having scored seven times across the previous three seasons. He also hit a brace in the DFB Cup second round as Bochum advanced to the last eight at the expense of Bundesliga rivals Augsburg.
The view from inside the camp
"Twenty points is a superb return for the first half of the season." - Reis
Maintaining the fortress-like feel at the Ruhrstadion will be key to Bochum's survival bid, with out-of-sorts Wolfsburg - directly below Bochum in the table - up first on Matchday 18. Maximum points against rock-bottom Greuther Fürth is a must. Depending on how the Rückrunde pans out, the Matchday 31 trip to Augsburg could fall into the 'six-pointer' category.
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